Bucs coordinator says Jameis Winston 'played his best game' vs. Washington

TAMPA, Fla. -- Rookie quarterback Jameis Winston "played his best game" during Sunday's loss to Washington, Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said.

"[Jameis] did a nice job," Koetter said Wednesday. "Didn't turn the ball over. Made good decisions. Got the ball out of his hand -- got the ball out of his hand early. ... Jameis did a really nice job."

The numbers support Koetter's assessment. Winston completed 21 of 29 passes for a season-high 297 yards with two touchdowns. He posted season-best totals in completion percentage (72.4) and passer rating (128.1), helping Tampa Bay to gain a season-best 479 yards of total offense. He also avoided throwing an interception for the second consecutive game.

"When you take care of the football, it gives us a chance to win," Winston said Wednesday. "That's something I'm always going to focus on week to week."

Winston didn't take much solace in his disciplined performance, saying, "A loss is a loss." Still, the fact he guided Tampa Bay to a 24-0 first-half lead was conspicuous.

"The positive thing was we started fast," he said. "This year we've been struggling. [Critics say], 'Hey, they don't start fast.' But we started fast. We went up early, but now we just have to finish. We have to play a full game."

Against Washington, the Bucs (2-4) were outscored 24-6 in the second half. Tampa Bay's four offensive possessions after halftime ended with two field goals, a punt and a fumble.

Still, a wider look at the game suggests the Bucs' offense is evolving with Winston. He distributed the ball to nine different targets. His ability to connect with wide receiver Mike Evans a season-high eight times for 164 yards and a touchdown -- after questions about Evans' slow start -- bodes well for the future.

"He just shows the leader that he can be," Evans said. "And he showed the talent that he has. He can be one of the best quarterbacks in the game. He showed that talent."

"He keeps everyone calm in the huddle. He never overreacts about anything," Bucs wide receiver Donteea Dye said of Winston. "Very cool under pressure."