The Buccaneers had a huge opportunity to keep the season alive and gain some ground in the wild card race annnnnd they blew it. The Buccaneers fall to 3-5 after they were beaten 42-28 by the Carolina Panthers. This game was once again, a tale of two halves. There were a lot of ups and downs, as there is with any Bucs game nowadays right?
How They Started
The Panthers won the toss and deferred to the second half. The Buccaneers and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick came out looking to pick up where they left off. The first drive looked sluggish. Two incompletions to Mike Evans and a two yard run by Peyton Barber forced the Bucs to punt. The Panthers got the ball and went three and out as well. The Bucs got the ball and gave it right back after Ryan Fitzpatrick overthrew Mike Evans and the ball went right into the hands of Eric Reid and Reid ran 39 yards all the way down to the Buccaneers 10 yard line. The Panthers were in business and they closed the deal with a one yard touchdown to go up 7-0. The Bucs followed that drive with a punt and then the Panthers drove down the field 88 yards and scored another touchdown. The score was now 14-0 and the Bucs needed to get something going soon. The Buccaneers responded to the pressure and scored a touchdown on a pass to OJ Howard from Fitzpatrick. The Panther lead was now cut to 14-7. The Panthers got the ball and executed a perfect double end around to Curtis Samuel. Samuel got some good blocks and went into the endzone for the touchdown. The score was now 21-7 and things were looking dark. Things got even darker when the Bucs were forced to punt and the Panthers scored yet ANOTHER touchdown. The score was now 28-7 and things started to get out of hand. The Bucs got the ball and they ran a fake punt that was unsuccessful, then the Panthers scored another touchdown to make it 35-7. The Bucs would respond with a touchdown of their own. Fitzpatrick and Howard connected for their 2nd touchdown of the day with little time left in the 2nd quarter.
At The Half
Could the 1st half have gone any worse for the Bucs? The offense looked out of rhythm, the defense seemed like they did not even gameplan for the Panthers offense. The Panthers run a lot of misdirection and that absolutely killed the Bucs in the 1st half. Fitzpatrick looked off most of the half. The run game was nonexistent again. The Bucs have to do a better job of finding a balance on offense. The Panthers would receive the ball to start the second half. The Bucs defense would have to step up to give the Bucs any chance of a comeback. How much Fitzmagic was left?
How They Finished
Well, the Buccaneers should know how to make things interesting. The defense held the Panthers to two straight three and outs to start the second half. The Bucs first offensive possession ended with a punt, but the second drive was able to be capped off with a touchdown pass to Adam Humphries, who had a fantastic day. The score was now 35-21. The Bucs showed even more life when they stopped the Panthers on 4th down. After a dumb penalty by Carlton Davis, the Bucs got backed up a little bit but were able to get out of it when Fitzpatrick hit Godwin for a big gain on 3rd down. That kept the drive alive and set up a Adam Humphries 30 yard touchdown, his second of the day. The score was now 35-28. Did the Bucs and Fitzpatrick have a few more tricks up their sleeve? The short answer here was no. The defense let the Panthers drive down the field and they capped it off with a 19 yard touchdown pass to make the score 42-28 and things were looking bleak yet again. The Bucs got the ball back, but after a few sacks allowed, were forced to punt. The defense would hold the Panthers once more, but it was too little too late. The Bucs got the ball and Fitzpatrick tried to force the ball to Desean Jackson and it was picked off. That pretty much did it. The Panthers picked up a few first downs and that was all she wrote.
The Buccaneers are bad, folks. The offense is too hot and cold and the defense is as well. Good teams play good for 60 minutes, not 30 minutes. The Bucs would have won last week if they had a better first half and this game would have been the same story. They cannot keep digging themselves into these holes and expect to get out of them. This is the NFL, not college. Epic comebacks are not gonna happen a lot. Koetter announced that Ryan Fitzpatrick would again start next week against the Redskins and I agree with that decision. Fitzpatrick played fine, but needs to be more consistent. The Bucs are now 3-5 and the playoffs are very close to being out of reach. Onto the next one.