Buccaneers 14, Patriots 19: Immediate observations and reactions

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

Thursday night in Raymond James stadium, Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers suffered a tough loss to Tom Brady and the Patriots. They now sit at 2-2 with a game against the Cardinals next week.

Observations and Reactions – General

– That was a tough one. There’s no shame in losing to Tom Brady, but the way the Buccaneers did it was heartbreaking. The score was close and Tampa had several chances to swing momentum but blew pretty much all of them. It’s difficult to beat Tom Brady with several missed kicks, penalties that bring back big plays, and a quarterback that took three quarters to find his rhythm. Even despite all that, the Bucs had a chance to win at the end, so there is some bright side.

– The Buccaneers need a kicker. Nick Folk missed three kicks on the night after struggling mightily last week as well. Tampa Bay more than likely wins tonight if the kicker does his job. Folk has now missed six kicks in the last two games.

– Jameis Winston took too long to get going in this game and it bit them in the end. Winston led a big time drive with just a minute left to give the Bucs a chance at winning, but they couldn’t punch it in at the end.

– It had been nine quarters since the Bucs got a sack, and for any chance at competing in this game they had to break it. Clinton McDonald delivered in the first quarter, and Adarius Glanton got another one that resulted in a fumble in the third quarter. The pass rush didn’t get home a ton, but they got a lot of knockdowns and put Brady under duress often.

– Did I mention that the Buccaneers need a kicker?

Observations and Reactions – Offense

– Jameis Winston took a while to get going, but he caught fire late in the 4th quarter and connected on a few huge passes to DeSean Jackson. Winston finished the game 26 of 46 for 334 yards and a touchdown. It’s Winston’s third straight game with 300 yards passing, and second straight without an interception (though there were plenty of chances for one in this game). The stats were okay, but Winston has to figure out a way to get going in the first half to pounce on mistakes by the other team.

– Winston and Jackson’s deep chemistry is still off, but we did get to see Jackson hit full stride and burn past defenders for a big forty yard gain in the fourth quarter. Jackson finished with five catches for 106 yards, his first hundred yard game as a Buccaneer, but went down with an injury on the Bucs final drive. He returned to the game, but we’ll have to monitor that this week.

– Cam Brate continues to shine and caught a touchdown for the third straight game. He wasn’t perfect and had a few key drops, but Brate has really transformed into one of the best tight ends in football.

Doug Martin was the star of the night for the Buccaneers offense. Martin was making sharp cuts and finishing off runs with power all night, and made a highlight play on a pass from Winston. He ran for 74 yards and a touchdown on 13 runs, and would have had much more if the game flow had allowed it.

– The Buccaneer offensive line continues to impress this season. I had my doubts before the season, but this unit has managed to keep Jameis Winston clean almost the entire season. Donovan Smith and Demar Dotson have turned a weakness last season at tackle into a strength of the team.

– By my count this is the third straight game in which the Buccaneer pass catchers have shined brightly as a unit. All of Humphries, Brate, Evans and Jackson made huge plays throughout the night. It was the second time in those three games that their quarterback couldn’t quite capitalize on his pass catchers.

– The Patriots defense is going to get a lot of love for slowing down the Bucs tonight, but this was more on the Bucs failures offensively than the Patriot defense. Dirk Koetter shoulders a lot of the blame along with his quarterback for not adjusting to the Patriots zone defense.

Observations and Reactions – Defense

Vernon Hargreaves continues to get beat for big plays in coverage. Commentators and analysts have been pleading for more physical play in coverage from Hargreaves, but to no avail. Hargreaves is a strong player near the line of scrimmage and makes a lot of solid tackles, but he puts the defense in a tough spot too often by allowing chunk yardage.

– The Buccaneer defense notched two turnovers on Tom Brady and managed to get in the veteran’s face all night. They broke their sack drought with three on the night, and yet it still wasn’t enough. That has to be disheartening for the Bucs defense, but that’s what Tom Brady does.

Justin Evans got his first career start against Tom Brady but managed to intercept the future hall of famer in the first quarter, and later in the game dropped another. As Evans grows more comfortable taking angles and wrapping up he’ll work his way into a permanent starting role.

Kendell Beckwith led the team in tackles once again with 12. The rookie has been a huge player for the team this season with linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David on the shelf.

Observations and Reactions – Special teams

– The Buccaneers lost this game for several reasons, but Nick Folk was one of the most significant. He missed three kicks on the night, including a chip shot that would have made the score 16-10 with more than five minutes left on the clock

– Allow me to reiterate: the Buccaneers need a kicker.


Bryan Anger was his usual self booming punts every time he got the chance. The highlight was a bomb that Ryan Smith helped pin on the two yard line.

– The Buccaneers’ return game continues to be non existent. This is almost as sure as the sun coming up tomorrow, as the Buccaneer return game has stunk almost every year of the teams existence.

Final Thoughts

Given all their defensive injuries, this was always going to be a tough game for the Bucs to win. Still, they competed until the end and managed to hold the Patriots to 16 points which is a monumental accomplishment. The Bucs pass rush showed some life, and their offensive line put together a third straight impressive game. There were definitely some positives to take away from this game. If Tampa can establish Doug Martin the rest of the season and get Winston into a rhythm quicker than the second half, they’ll still be able to make plenty of noise this season.  Now at 2-2 the Buccaneers will need to defeat the Cardinals if they want to keep from dropping below .500.

Next: Week Five Fantasy Football Sit/Start

The Buccaneers travel to Arizona next week for a date with the Cardinals at 4:05. Be sure to check back with the Pewter Plank for more immediate reactions.