The Tampa Bay Buccaneers snapped a 3-game losing streak with a thrilling, wild overtime victory over the Cleveland Browns. We should be thrilled, right? Well, no. Not really. Look, you never apologize for a win and good teams do have to win ugly from time-to-time, but this wasn’t ugly folks, it was almost downright embarrassing. But, a wins a win and at the end of the day, the don’t ask how just how many. Let’s see what other pearls of wisdom I have for you today.
Pieces of Eight
1) Chandler Catanzaro may have saved his job with that miracle 59 yd field goal to win it in overtime. With yet another missed extra point and missing the makable 40 yd field goal at the end of regulation to send it into overtime, the writing was on the wall. If the game had ended in a tie or loss, Catanzaro would be looking for work and the Bucs kicker curse would live on again in infamy. What is it about this damn team and kickers?
2) No one’s breathing a bigger sigh of relief than Bucs GM Jason Licht for Catanzaro’s kick. Let’s face it, Winston, Licht’s number one overall choice in 2015, was putting the game in jeopardy with multiple turnovers. His defense, boasting many top picks, blew a 14 point fourth quarter lead. Finally, the kicker he anointed to be the answer to the Bucs kicking woes, was pulling everything like a bad golf slice. Had the Bucs lost to Cleveland, I truly believe ownership would have begun their process for regime change in earnest.
3) You don’t win many football games when your offense turns the ball over four times. For all the good he does, Jameis Winston is a maddening quarterback to root for. He can play an impeccable game, 90% of the time, but it’s that other 10% that gets you beat. He’s now turned the ball over 7 times in only 2 and half quarters of play this season. We keep saying, that has to stop. That has to stop. But it never does and at this point, you have to begin to wonder if it ever will. I mean, yep, Jameis threw for another 365 yds today. He ran in a touchdown. His offense put up 26 points on the board. He also set up Cleveland inside Tampa Bay territory twice with turnovers, one that got turned into a touchdown and the other nearly cost the Bucs the football game in overtime.
You can’t hope to become a winning quarterback if you continue to do this nonsense.
4) Okay, enough of the bad. How bout that freaking defense? Despite playing without Pro Bowl DT Gerald McCoy and Vinny Curry and losing the heart-and-soul of the defense Kwon Alexander to what appears to be a serious knee injury about midway through the 2nd quarter, the Bucs defense played hard and very well throughout the ballgame. Only once did the Browns drive the field and get points, their other two touchdowns were set up by a turnover on offense and a long punt return. The Bucs tossed a season-high 6 3-and-out series, included two critical stops in overtime that kept the Bucs in it.
Limiting the Cleveland Browns to just 305 yds of total offense isn’t anything to write home about. But holding them to 3-of-14 on 3rd down is. That goal-line stand certainly was. The strip of Baker Mayfield on 4th-and-2 deep in Bucs territory was. The 5 sacks and 8 TFLS were.
Look, it won’t make anyone forget about the 99 Bucs defense, but it was signs of life from this much-maligned squad and a hell of a first outing for new defensive coordinator Mark Duffner, who seemed to call a much more aggressive game plan.
5) We all know the Bucs shouldn’t have gotten themselves in trouble like this against the Browns, but the Bucs will Buc. What’s important is Tampa Bay usually loses this games and somehow, someway Tampa Bay found a way to get a crucial victory and keep pace with the rest of the NFC South. With both Carolina and New Orleans rallying from behind for victories, 2-4 with a home loss to the Cleveland Browns (especially leading by 2 touchdowns heading into the fourth quarter), that would have been the type of gut punch that ends seasons and coaching careers. At 3-3, the Bucs have a fighting chance to stay in the race. They’ll need to play a hell of a lot better on offense to compete with the Cincinnati’s and Carolina’s upcoming on the schedule, and stop turning over the damned football, but if their defense can continue to get better (a little more difficult with loss of Kwon Alexander), they have a fighting chance. That’s all you can really ask for at this point.
6) The feeling of dread at Raymond James stadium yesterday was palpable. Buc fans feared their team would lose to the Browns and many left when Jameis Winston seemed to hand the Browns the win in overtime with an interception in Bucs territory. They didn’t want to see the Browns fans celebrating in their stadium. It’s hard enough to lose to the Bears or Falcons or Panthers. But the Browns? Cleveland tied a record for the most consecutive road losses in NFL history with Sunday’s defeat. You can’t lose to that team on your home turf – period. Yet Bucs fans didn’t have confidence their team would be victorious today. For a while, it looked like that was foolhardy, as the Bucs controlled the game most of the way. When things collapsed in the fourth quarter, though, the despair in that stadium was something I haven’t felt in a long time. Fans were stunned, watching the Bucs throw away a 14 point lead to Cleveland – CLEVELAND. I would say no disrespect intended, but that would be disingenuous of me. When Catanzaro missed the game-winning field goal in regulation, I wondered if some Buc fans left to head to the Skyway Bridge. It was a weird vibe, this game, and I think it translated onto the football field. The Bucs, at least offensively, played like a team that didn’t want to win this football game. They tried every which way to waste a rare solid effort by the defense. Thankfully, Browns browning is stronger than the Bucs buc’ing.
7) If the Bucs decide Jameis Winston is their quarterback going forward, they should trade Desean Jackson and get something of value for him. Winston and Jackson just haven’t clicked and you begin to wonder if it will ever happen. Winston would rather throw to Adam Humphries than Jackson. Jackson’s a hell of a football player and a weapon, but if Winston keeps force balls to him that end up in the opponent’s hands, then he isn’t a weapon the Bucs can use with Winston under center. Jackson, to his credit, hasn’t pouted or been a disruption, but you can see he’s frustrated and for good reason. He’s getting open, Winston either misses him or doesn’t see him or doesn’t have the patience to anticipate and let the play develop as Fitz did.
I know the Bucs won’t bench Winston, but I do wonder sometimes if they would have been better off sticking with Fitzpatrick. Then again, Fitz was kinda crumbling his last couple starts so it’s quite possible that that amazing two game run was the rest of what he had in the tank.
8) The Bucs offensive line has not lived up to it’s billing this season. While Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet and Ryan Jensen have been okay, Caleb Benenoch and Demar Dotson have been downright bad, Benenoch especially. There was one play during the game that the defensive linemen overwhelmed Benenoch so much, he sent him tumbling into Winston. Obviously, Benenoch is playing because the Bucs believe they don’t have anyone better, but they better find an answer, because it isn’t Benenoch at this point.
DLT’s Emotional Game Tweet of the Week
— 👽🎃JC De La TERROR ☠️🎃 (@jcdelatorre) October 21, 2018