Buccaneers 17, Vikings 34: Immediate observations and reactions

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 24: Head coach Dirk Koetter of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the sidelines of the game agains the Minnesota Vikings on September 24, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 24: Head coach Dirk Koetter of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the sidelines of the game agains the Minnesota Vikings on September 24, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) /

The Buccaneers (1-1) were riding high heading into week three, but were completely outclassed by the Vikings (2-1) in a 34-17 loss on Sunday afternoon. Here, we have immediate observations and reactions from the loss.

60. Final. 17. 48. 34

The Buccaneers started slow and never recovered, falling 34-17 in Minnesota against the Vikings.

Observations and Reactions- General

-So, let’s start with a little behind-the-scenes on how I go about following games for these reactions. I keep notes as the game progresses. Long story short, I wrote that someone was “beaten” no less than 10 times. The Bucs were beaten badly on both sides of the ball. All day.

-Penalties hurt Tampa Bay, as they usually do, on Sunday. The team was flagged seven times for 37 yards.

-In no way did the Bucs lose because of officiating, but something has to be said about continuous missed calls. Multiple Buccaneer receivers took shots to the head without a flag thrown. Minnesota jumped early several times without calls. Even on the Vikings’ first touchdown, it looked pretty clear that Dalvin Cook fumbled before crossing the goal line. Tampa Bay played poorly enough even without the missed calls.

-Injuries. The loss of a true bye week has been talked about a lot, and we’re seeing why. The Bucs were missing guys to start the game. They then saw Gerald McCoy, T.J. Ward and Lavonte David go down. Vernon Hargreaves, Ryan Smith, Noah Spence and Robert Ayers all were banged up at different times as well.

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Observations and Reactions- Offense

-As bad as the Tampa Bay defense was on its own, the offense wasn’t helping either. It struggled to sustain drives, failed to run the ball and failed to convert on third downs. Any time the Buccaneer offense converts just one of six third downs, it’s going to leave their defense out to dry. That unit isn’t deep enough to deal with that.

Jameis Winston had his worst game in a while on Sunday. He made some nice throws, as usual. But there are still far too many mistakes that were highly avoidable. An underthrown deep ball to DeSean Jackson resulted in an interception in the second quarter, then he threw another one in the fourth after a miscommunication. A third came later in the fourth when he threw a ball into triple coverage.

-The Bucs really miss Doug Martin. Jacquizz Rodgers isn’t a bad running back, but he just doesn’t bring the same skills that Martin does. He managed to put up just 15 yards on five carries. 26 rushing yards as a team isn’t going to cut it.

-Winston did a good job of spreading the ball around this week. He completed passes to eight different receivers. Jackson finished with four catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. Mike Evans went for 67 on seven receptions, while Adam Humphries totaled 68 yards on six catches. Cameron Brate caught his first touchdown pass of the year in the third quarter.

-Rookies O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin got some more looks on Sunday. Howard caught just one pass for 12 yards, but Godwin had a couple of catches late. He finished with three for 44 yards.

-The offensive line didn’t look too good against a tough Minnesota defensive front. It only allowed two sacks, but Winston was pressured consistently.

Ali Marpet didn’t have the best day at center. He had multiple bad snaps, setting up the offense for a few broken plays.

Observations and Reactions- Defense

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-Tampa Bay already had some injury issues before the game even started. Kwon Alexander (hamstring), Chris Baker (flu) and Brent Grimes (lat) were all missing. It doesn’t really matter who you’re playing: it’s going to be tough to win if you have a key player missing on every defensive level.

-The Vikings went after Vernon Hargreaves, and saw a lot of success. Adam Thielen beat him for a 45-yard gain on the opening drive, then Stefon Diggs got open for a first down on 3rd and 12 later in the quarter. Diggs later beat him again for a touchdown. It was a forgettable day for the second-year corner.

-Diggs was a problem all day. He caught eight passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns.

Case Keenum, who has had a lot of recent success against the Bucs, looked cool and confident on Sunday. He started 10-for-14 with 142 yards and a touchdown over the first three drives, but wasn’t done there. By the end of the afternoon, he was 25 of 33 for 369 yards and three touchdowns.

-After stifling the Chicago run game last week, Tampa Bay got out to a pretty good start against rookie Dalvin Cook. But as the drives got longer and the defense stayed on the field for six or seven minutes at a time, he got going. The Florida State product finished with 97 yards and a touchdowns on 27 carries. He also added 72 receiving yards on five catches.

-The lack of pressure from the Buccaneer defensive line is maddening. Tampa Bay didn’t pick up any sacks on Sunday, leaving Keenum upright to pick apart the secondary. The guys in the back do need to be a whole lot better, but they can only do so much when the quarterback has six minutes to throw a pass.

-The Vikings finished the day with 494 yards. You won’t win a lot of games when giving up that kind of yardage.

Observations and Reactions- Special Teams

Nick Folk was perfect on his kicks once again, making a 40-yard field goal and both of his extra point attempts.

-The world really might be ending, considering Bryan Anger didn’t even have a very good day. He averaged 40.8 yards per punt and failed to pin the Vikings inside their 20.

Bernard Reedy showed some speed on a kickoff return that set up an eventual scoring drive.

Final Thoughts

The Buccaneers really didn’t show up on Sunday afternoon. There’s not too much to say other than that. Offensively, they looked sloppy. Jameis Winston was pretty bad. Jacquizz Rodgers couldn’t break free. Penalties killed a couple of drives. Then, on defense, things were even worse. Tampa Bay failed to get pressure on a very average quarterback, which allowed him to look like a 12-time Pro Bowl selection. The secondary didn’t even hold up a little bit. The entire unit got worn down by a much better team. There was frustration all around for the Bucs in a game that looked winnable coming in.

The best thing about Sunday’s game in Minnesota is that it’s over. However, Tampa Bay returns home next week for another tough matchup. If some of these injuries are serious, the Bucs could be in for some real trouble. Without generating a pass rush and keeping receivers in check, it won’t matter how good the run defense is. Were there positives in Sunday’s game? There definitely were, but forgive me if I can’t think of any considering the extensive number of negatives. Tampa Bay is not as bad as it looked on Sunday. Let’s just forget this one happened.

Next: Gameday Spotlight: Cam Brate

The Buccaneers return to the field next Sunday against the Giants. Kickoff is set for 4:05 p.m.