DETROIT (AP) — Jameis Winston became the first player in NFL history to throw for 450 yards in consecutive games, leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 38-17 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Winston threw three touchdowns in the first half — four overall — and a career-high 458 yards passing one week after throwing for 456 yards.
The Buccaneers (7-7) have won four straight and five of six, but their surge started too late for them to get in the playoffs race.
Detroit (3-10-1) has dropped seven games in a row and 10 of 11, increasing the scrutiny on embattled coach Matt Patricia.
The Lions looked like they were still competing for their coach, and themselves, after falling behind 21-0 in the first half. Running back Wes Hills, who was signed Saturday, ran for a second TD early in the fourth quarter to cut Tampa Bay’s lead to 24-17.
The comeback hopes ended with a thud.
Sean Murphy-Bunting returned an interception 70 yards for a score and a 14-point lead with 5:12 remaining. Winston followed with his fourth TD pass, connecting with Breshard Perriman for a third time.
Even though both teams won’t reach their goals this season, Winston made the most of his opportunity to show the Buccaneers they should give him a new contract when his deal expires following the season.
Winston, playing with a small fracture in his right thumb, completed 28 of 42 passes and set career highs with 221 yards passing in the first quarter and 308 yards by halftime en route to the highest single-game total in the NFL. The No. 1 pick overall from the 2015 draft did throw a league-high 24th interception on the opening possession, but he more than made up for the miscue.
Winston took advantage of time to throw to connect with Perriman for a 34-yard TD and Scotty Miller for a 33-yard score in the first quarter. He threw a 25-yard TD to Perriman in the second quarter, keeping the team’s passing game clicking even with standout receiver Mike Evans out with a hamstring injury.
Winston’s pace slowed in the second half in part because receiver Chris Godwin left the game with a hamstring injury in the third quarter. Godwin had five catches for 121 yards.
The Lions did not have a first down on offense without the benefit of a penalty until midway through the second quarter. Matt Prater had a 44-yard field goal.
David Blough was 24 of 43 with two interceptions, making his third straight start in place of injured quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Tampa Bay’s Shaquil Barrett had a sack, giving him 16 1/2 this season to match the franchise record set by Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp in 2000.
Buccaneers: Miller went out with a hamstring injury after he scored in the first quarter. TE Tanner Hudson was evaluated for a concussion in the second half.
Lions: DT Mike Daniels (arm), RB J.D. McKissic (stringer), LB Devon Kennard (hamstring) and OG Kenny Wiggins (arm) left the game with injuries.
Buccaneers: host Houston on Dec. 21.
Lions: play at Denver on Dec. 22.