EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who led the NFL last year by averaging 19.2 yards per reception, would have been the star of Sunday's game if Tampa Bay had held on.
Targeted 13 times by quarterback Josh Freeman, Jackson hauled in seven passes for 154 yards, including a 37-yard catch that set up Rian Lindell's go-ahead 37-yard field goal with 34 seconds left.
“That's the type of guy he is,'' Freeman said. “I get the ball in his hands and the guy does something special.''
Jackson also caught a 39-yard pass in the second quarter and posted two other receptions of at least 20 yards, consistently beating the Jets secondary on slants.
“Like I said, he's the best receiver in the league,'' said receiver Mike Williams, who opened Tampa Bay's scoring with a 17-yard touchdown catch late in the opening quarter. “If you don't believe me, keep on watching.''
Jackson, named one of Tampa Bay's two offensive team captains, declined comment after the game.
The Bucs ended up with more penalties (13) than first downs (12), and many of the flags were particularly costly.
Five of New York's 22 first downs came via Tampa Bay penalties, including a holding call against second-year cornerback Leonard Johnson and personal fouls against safeties Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron.
After Jets safety Dawan Landry intercepted Josh Freeman, Barron was flagged for unnecessary roughness late in the first half as the Jets faced a third-and-21 situation. Given new life, Smith capped the drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass to ex-Bucs tight end Kellen Winslow.
“Penalties hurt us a lot today,'' Barron said. “Do I feel bad about (mine)? No, because I was just playing football. I hate that it happened and I'm going to hate the letter (NFL fine) that comes with it, but that's just me playing ball.''
Johnson, who led all players with nine tackles, was called for a hold on third-and-5 while Jets quarterback Geno Smith was being stopped for a 1-yard run. Instead, the Jets drove 65 yards in 14 plays and took a 15-14 advantage on Nick Folk's 30-yard field goal
“No one wants to take penalties, but we have to find a way to win,'' Johnson said. “Now, we have no choice but to rebound from a tough loss. Great teams bounce back.''
The Bucs fell to 1-10 against the Jets, including 0-7 on the road. ... Rookie CB Johnthan Banks was credited with three tackles in his Bucs debut. ... Rookie QB Mike Glennon and RB Peyton Hillis were the only active Tampa Bay players who didn't get into the game. ... Gabe Carimi started at left guard for Tampa Bay in place of Carl Nicks, who is still dealing with a MRSA staph infection. ... The Bucs' defense opened the game in a nickel package as the Jets started three wide receivers. ... Tampa Bay punter Mike Koenen was outstanding, averaging 45.3 yards on seven kicks while dropping three punts inside the 20. ... Counting the preseason, the Bucs offense has scored seven touchdowns in five games. ... Bucs linebacker Dekoda Watson registered his second career sack, dropping Smith in the third quarter.