Jameis Winston efficiently leads Bucs to victory

Jameis Winston outduels Drew Brees for first victory, game ball (1:40)

ESPN NFL Nation reporters Jeremy Fowler, Pat Yasinskas and Mike Triplett hand out game balls after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 26-19 upset over the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome. (1:40)

NEW ORLEANS -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie quarterback Jameis Winston was not spectacular Sunday.

He didn't have to be in Tampa Bay's 26-19 victory against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Winston merely was solid, and that's all the Bucs needed.

In an ideal world, that's what the Bucs want: a strong defense, a solid running game and some timely plays from Winston. That is exactly what they got Sunday. After the game, Winston seemed to have a pretty solid idea of what his job is supposed to be. He doesn't need to be spectacular, the way he often was in college.

"I just want to go out there and do my job and be a game manager right now," Winston said. "Who knows what my future holds? Right now, I just want to be a game manager and put our team in the best possible situation I can for us to win."

Winston's performance was far better than what he turned in against Tennessee in the season opener, a 42-14 loss that featured two costly interceptions.

"You would like young players to be All-Pro every game," Bucs coach Lovie Smith said. "Early on you struggle sometimes. It's how you come back [that matters]."

Against the Saints, Winston completed 14 of 21 passes for 207 yards with one touchdown and -- more importantly -- no interceptions.

"It's going to come down to the quarterback being accurate throwing the football," Smith said. "It's as simple as that. Making good decisions and being able to place the ball. Jameis was in control throughout. It was a good comeback effort by a rookie quarterback."

It was precisely the kind of game Smith wants from his quarterback. Smith had a long and prosperous time in Chicago without ever having a quarterback who carried the team. Instead, he relied on a strong defense, a good running game and efficiency from the quarterback.

Sunday's game might have been the first time since Smith came to Tampa Bay that the team truly played his style from start to finish. The defense, which was shredded a week ago by Tennessee rookie Marcus Mariota, played a stellar game. Led by defensive end Jacquies Smith, who had three sacks, the pass rush was all over New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees.

The victory was the first of Winston's career and the Bucs are hoping there are many more to follow. As long as the Bucs continue to follow the formula as they did Sunday, Winston can be ordinary and be a success at the same time. That would be just fine with the Bucs.

Winston might eventually develop into a superstar. But, for now, Winston and the Bucs are happy for him to be a game manager.

"Situational football will win you a lot of games in this league," Winston said. "Third-down situations, two-minute situations, four-minute situations. It's critical for our team's success. Thank God that we executed and our defense played amazing today and we got that victory."