In a gut-wrenching, emotional roller coaster of a game, the Buccaneers came up short, losing to the Cowboys 26-20.
That one hurt. Bad. The Buccaneers were awful in the first half, surged in the third quarter, fell apart down the stretch, and fell out of their playoff position. The Cowboys were the better team for the majority of the game and did just enough to beat a hot Bucs team.
Jameis Winston had one of his worst games of the season, turning the ball over four times including on the last drive that could’ve been the game winner. We’re still waiting for that moment where Jameis puts the team on his shoulders and orchestrates that statement, game winning drive. He had two opportunities against Dallas and failed both times. However, it’s tough to put the blame solely on him.
Let’s pick six.
Six Topics Suitable For Debate
1.) Gosder Cherilus Is Worthless. One of, if not the biggest reason Winston couldn’t get it done was that he had no time. At all. Gosder Cherilus was a pathetic excuse for an offensive lineman and Cowboy defenders – specifically David Irving – were in Winston’s face all day long. Winston had Evans open on what likely would’ve been a go-ahead touchdown and missed him by inches. He rushed the pass even though he finally had time because his internal clock was so sped up. If Cherilus still has a job by Monday’s end, it’s a travesty.
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2.) Playoff Hopes Aren’t Dead…Yet. Right now, the Redskins are the six seed but face the Panthers tonight. The Packers hold the tie breaker over Tampa, but the Bucs can still win the division. Win out, over the Saints and Panthers, and one Falcon loss and the Bucs are NFC South champs. December football is still crucial for Tampa Bay.
3.) Red Zone Woes Continue. The Bucs were in the red zone twice in the first half and settled for field goals both times. Winston didn’t even look to a wide open Evans on one possession. The other? Winston head butted a Cowboy defender and created a 2nd and Goal from the 28 yard line. It was a stupid, emotional mistake that cost the Bucs dearly. These issues have to be cleaned up. Period.
4.) Moral Victory? I hate moral victories. I really do. That being said, there is some silver lining. The Bucs lost the turnover battle 4-1 and Jameis had one of his worst games this season. Yet, the Buccaneers were still in a position to win the game at the end of the fourth quarter. Yes, the Bucs went toe-to-toe with the best team in the NFC and could’ve won. They’re getting closer. They shocked us all by reviving their season from 3-5 to 8-5 – now 8-6 – and no one saw it coming. This team is building something special. They’re just a few pieces away, which is a lot closer than we all thought two months ago.
5.) They Can’t Get Discouraged. This was a tough, tough loss. Maybe the toughest one this year. The Buccaneers can not afford to hang their heads longer than the plane ride home. Get back to work Monday because it’s time to head to New Orleans. That game still has huge playoff ramifications. Can’t get too low after one loss.
6.) Mike Smith May Be One And Done. The Jacksonville Jaguars fired Gus Bradley and the Los Angeles Rams fired Jeff Fisher. By the sounds of it, Smith is the Jags’ top choice and he may be leaving the Bucs to become a head coach after just one season. Hopefully, with the defensive turnaround, that isn’t the case. However, it seems like a very real possibility.
Six Numbers To Consider
25 – Jameis Winston touchdown passes, third most in a season in team history
7 – Touchdown receptions by Cameron Brate. Tied for most in a season by a Bucs tight end and most in the NFL this year by a tight end.
3 – Consecutive games Mike Evans hasn’t scored, and five of the last six.
.250 – Winston’s winning percentage in prime time games through two seasons
72 – First down catches by Mike Evans this season, most in the NFL
21 – Tackles by Kwon Alexander, a career high
Six Teams To Root For
1.) Carolina Panthers (Monday Night) – A Washington loss keeps them a half game behind the Bucs
2.) Carolina Panthers (Saturday) – Need an Atlanta loss to gain control of the division
3.) Philadelphia Eagles – Keep the Giants in the wild card spot…I’ll explain in a moment…
4.) Dallas Cowboys – NOt only will Detroit losing out benefit the Bucs given Green Bay holds the tie breaker over them, but I want another shot at Dallas in January!
5.) Minnesota Vikings – Of course, a Packers loss wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, either…
6.) San Diego Chargers – Might as well hope Cleveland finishes their perfect season, right?
Six Super Bowl Bets
1.) New England Patriots – Nothing’s changed…
2.) Dallas Cowboys – We had ’em. We had ’em.
3.) Oakland Raiders – Secondary is sketchy, but they’re so darn good on offense
4.) Pittsburgh Steelers – Still hot, cake schedule to finish the year. Always dangerous in the postseason.
5.) Seattle Seahawks – Experience is something to think about come January
10.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Not over. Not by a long shot.