The Play: The Single Moment That Lost the Game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2


Sep 15, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Rian Lindell (4) reacts after he missed a field goal during the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium. The Saints won 16-14. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Read previous editions of “The Play” for Week: 1

Week 2 had a number of candidates for “The Play,” but one stuck out above the rest as the clear reason why the Buccaneers are 0-2 rather than 1-1.

That play occurred in the fourth quarter with a little over a minute left on the clock. The Buccaneers have the football at the New Orleans 29-yard line. It’s fourth down and three. The Buccaneers are leading the game by a single point and the Saints do not have any timeouts remaining.

Greg Schiano opts to try a 47 yard field goal with Rian Lindell. Shocking to few, Lindell shanks it and the Saints get the ball at their own 37 with 1:06 to play. They must now move the football about 33 yards to get into true make-able (for anyone other than Lindell) field goal range. Well, the rest is history and we don’t need to replay it again.

Why was this play so crucial? Because head coach Greg Schiano had three options on the 4th and 3 play.

"A) Kick the FGB) Go for itC) Punt"

Schiano chose A. Now of course, that wound up being the incorrect decision.

However, it’s not the outcome that bothers me, it’s the decision-making process. I believe Schiano chose to kick the field goal for a few reasons. First, he must not trust his quarterback to make a throw for a first down. Second, he must not have believed in his offensive line and running back (who’ve been gashing the Saints all second half) to pick up a measly three yards. And finally, the one I believed played the biggest factor, kicking a FG pushed the blame away from him and on to Lindell.

If the kick is missed, it’s not Schiano’s fault, Lindell missed it. If he makes it, Schiano looks like a genius.

I would have gone for it on fourth down. And I promise you, if you ask anyone at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Henderson, NV they will vouch for me as I was screaming at the TV when Lindell was trotted out.

Here’s why going for it is the right decision. If you get it, you win. But if you don’t, you’ve shown a number of things to your team. Most importantly, you believe in your quarterback, running back, o-line, and receivers to come up with a game winning play. Secondly, you are telling your defense, I know that if we for some reason do not pick this up, you guys are going to get me a stop.

Kicking a field goal shows faith in no one (except Lindell). You are saying, we need 3 more points, otherwise we are going to lose. And even though that did end up being the case, there was a rallying point play available to Schiano and he passed on it.

There’s no telling if the Buccaneers would have converted the 4th down. But it is “The Play” of Week 2.