The Play: The Single Moment That Lost the Game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1


Sep 8, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano and Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker

Lavonte David

(54) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker

Jonathan Casillas

(52) look on against the New York Jets during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Jets won 18-17. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to ‘The Play.” Each week I will select one play that changed the game to a point of no return. The play that defined the outcome.

Hopefully there are plenty more positive plays than negative, but in the case of Buccaneers/Jets, the play kind of selected itself, and it’s as negative as it gets.

I tried and tried and tried to come up with a play other than the one I selected, but there simply wasn’t another candidate that even came close. Usually it won’t be this obvious, but for Week 1, the play is the now infamous, Lavonte David hit out-of-bounds.

Fourth quarter, :15 seconds on the clock. The Buccaneers led by two. Geno Smith rolls out to the right, decides to run the ball, and Lavonte David pushes him out “after he stepped out-of-bounds.” (I still disagree). David is flagged for 15 yards and instead of the Jets having the ball at the TB 45, they are gifted a chance at a 48 yard field goal that wins the game.

Since the NFL has since fined David for the “hit” on Smith, there’s really no sense in continuing my argument that the play shouldn’t be flagged. And because you are probably all sick of hearing about this play, I’m going to take another route to complete the first ever “The Play” article.

Let’s just play hypothetical for a moment, and say, the actual play never happened, and the Buccaneers won the game. The play that would have taken the honors would have been the Jets 3rd and 4 play with 2:30 on the clock. The Buccaneers defense was in a must-stop situation in order to get the ball back to Josh Freeman and the offense. They had just given up a 7 yard pass play that set up the Jets with a “win the game” 3rd and manageable.

With Freeman’s history of comeback/game winning drives, the thought was, if we can get off the field before the 2 minute warning, #5 will probably give us a pretty darn good chance of recording the go-ahead score.

The Bucs defense locked down all three receivers, and forced Geno Smith out of the pocket. He ended up scrambling back to the line of scrimmage where he was “sacked” (more like tripped) by Lavonte David. The Jets were forced to punt and the Buccaneers offense did indeed go down and score the go-ahead field goal.

Unfortunately, “The Play” happened and the Bucs are now 0-1. Hopefully Week 2’s winner will be more along the lines of the sack than the game losing penalty.