Ouch, that one hurt. The Buccaneers fall to 3-4 as they suffered a loss at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals as kicker Randy Bullock nailed a 43 yard field goal as time expired to end it. The 37-34 loss was a mix of emotions. At first there was hope, then there was stress, and more stress, and then frustration. After frustration came some more hope and then some excitement, until it got ripped away by the Bengals. That sounds like a normal Sunday for Bucs fans doesn’t it? This game was easily the worst game I have ever seen out of QB Jameis Winston. His 4 interceptions were a big reason the Buccaneers lost this game. Winston’s future with the team is definitely in doubt.
How They Started
The Bucs won the toss and deferred. The Bengals and QB Andy Dalton drove down the field. The Bengals would get into field goal range and would face a 4th and 1 and they decided to go for it. They handed it off to Joe Mixon and Mixon was stuffed for no gain by rookie safety Jordan Whitehead. It was a terrific play by Whitehead and gave the Bucs the ball. I liked what the Bucs tried to do on offense. They had a balanced attack and it had worked well early on. They went down the field and the drive ended when Winston overthrew Mike Evans and was intercepted in the end zone. Not the greatest start on offense, especially considering Winston had Adam Humphries open in the flat but decided to go for the kill. The next Bengals drive would feature the Bucs defense answering the bell again, forcing a 3 and out a Bengals punt. The Bucs would then punt also and give the ball back. Cincinnati then drove down with ease and scored the game’s first touchdown on a Mixon 1 yard run. The next Bucs possession would be another Winston interception. I don’t know what Winston saw, but it wasn’t pretty. He threw it right to the Bengals linebacker. Unreal. The Bengals had the ball back all of the sudden and scored another touchdown and it was 14-0 before the Bucs knew it. The Bucs defense played fine, but really struggled to contain Joe Mixon in the 1st half. The Bucs followed that up with a punt and then the Bengals followed that up with another touchdown. The Bucs were now down 21-0 with their backs against the wall. We finally got to see Winston connect on a deep ball with Desean Jackson for a 60 yard touchdown. Unfortunately Chandler Catanzaro missed the extra point. The Bucs worked out some kickers over the weekend, so it would not surprise me to see Catanzaro cut. The lead was now 21-6 for the Bengals but they weren’t done. The Bengals scored another touchdown on a fantastic catch by AJ Green. The Bucs got the ball and drove down the field, only to stall and settle for a 25 yard Catanzaro field goal and that would close out an ugly 1st half.
At The Half
The score was 28-9, it was clear that the Bucs were trying to establish a run game but you can’t do that once you commit turnovers and put yourself in a hole. Jameis Winston was just off today and it wouldn’t get much better. The defense had real trouble stopping the run. It seems that when offenses run to the outside, the Bucs have trouble setting the edge and it creates big holes for a team’a rushing attack. The Bucs would receive the ball to start the 2nd half and it was a huge opportunity to get back into the game.
How They Finished
The Bucs came out to start the 2nd half and had a nice drive that ended in a Peyton Barber 1 yard touchdown run. The Bucs defense responded by forcing the Bengals to punt. The offense got the ball back, but gave it up when Winston overthrew Cameron Brate and it was picked off. His 3rd of the day. The Bucs defense stepped up again and forced the Bengals to punt. Could the Bucs offense finally get into a rhythm? The answer was no. Winston was picked off by Jessie Bates and this one was returned for a touchdown. That was his 4th interception and his day was done. There was only one thing that could rescue the Bucs. A little Fitzmagic. Ryan Fitzpatrick came off the bench and went right into action. The Bucs were able to get a field goal out of the drive and the score was 34-19. The defense again would force the Bengals to punt and the offense got the ball back. Things got real interesting when Fitzpatrick hit a wide open Mike Evans on a deep ball for a 72 yard touchdown. The score was now 34-26 and the Bucs still had life. Both teams would trade punts and then the Bengals punted once more and that gave the Bucs one last chance to tie the game. Down 8, Fitzpatrick drove the team down the field and on a critical 4th and 3, fired a touchdown pass to OJ Howard. Now there was the two point conversion. Fitzpatrick avoided a defender and toss the ball in the endzone to Chris Godwin. We have a tie ball game. The Bengals got the ball and that defense that played so well down the stretch finally crumbled and allowed the Bengals to drive down to field goal range and kicker Randy Bullock hit the game winner to send the Bucs home with a loss.
That was definitely disappointing. I’m gonna say it, if the Bucs pulled Jameis Winston sooner, they would have won the game. Winston was bad, very bad. I really don’t know what the Bucs are going to do with the QB situation. If they bench Winston for Fitzpatrick, that shows that you don’t believe Winston can win games. However if they start Winston, I don’t know if he will be able to limit the turnovers. I would not want to be Dirk Koetter right now. The defense played terrific in the 2nd half, but got off to a slow start in the 1st half and that hurt the team. I don’t care if he made the rest of his kicks, Chandler Catanzaro should be on alert this week. The Bucs worked out Cairo Santos this week and I think he would be a good option. The Bucs will be traveling to Carolina to play the Panthers next weekend until then, all the fans can have is hope.