The Buccaneers lost a winnable game against the Packers, 26-20 and the wheels are starting to fall off.
Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston returned and looked good for the most part outside of one big mistake. Winston was constantly under duress, being hit thirteen times and sacked seven. However, Winston still delivered with 300 yards, two touchdowns (one of them being a go ahead-score late in the game).
It was the defense that gave up the late lead to no surprise. The worst part was that the defense completely shut down the pass, but could not stop the run at all. Hundley passed for 84 yards and threw an interception. However, Hundley rushed for 66 yards, picking up several first downs in the process.
The real running-back on the team also carved up the Bucs. Packers running-back Jamaal Williams rushed 21 times for 113 yards and a rushing touchdown. It is amazing to see a Bucs run defense that is normally solid give up nearly 200 yards on the ground after shutting down the passing game.
The offense had done enough to win, Peyton Barber looked strong going for the first 100-yard performance of the season for the Bucs. However, it was the defense that failed to make a stop on a third down when the Packers were down three. One side of the ball always fails to make a play when needed, and that is the mark of a bad football which is what the Bucs are.
Let’s get to the key plays.
Jameis Winston 28 yard touchdown pass to Cameron Brate: 9:52 Q1
No, you’re not hallucinating – the Bucs actually scored an opening drive touchdown. I couldn’t believe it either, but Winston came out slinging early. Winston only threw one incompletion en route to driving the Bucs 75 yards down the field. On a third and six, Winston found Brate streaking over the middle of the field, hit him in stride and Brate made a nice catch.
This was a key play because the Bucs scored a touchdown. This touchdown was the Bucs first opening drive touchdown in a looooong time.
Justin Evans Interception: 10:59 Q2
The rookie made a play again. On the first play of the drive, Hundley took a shot down-field to a seemingly open Jordy Nelson. However, Evans had other plans as he came from out of nowhere to snag an interception and return it into Green Bay territory. The return was nullified by a penalty, but the Bucs were still set up with solid field position.
This was a key play because the Bucs got the first turnover of the game and received solid field position the process.
Kyler Fackrell blocked punt: 9:53 Q2
Following the interception by Evans, the Bucs did not do much offensively. The Bucs had a quick three-and-out, meaning they had to punt from their own 45. On fourth-and-seven, the Packers were able to block the punt by Anger. Fackrell was able to get a hand on it and Jermaine Whitehead was able to recover it at the Tampa Bay 45. The Bucs had not had any punts blocked the past few years, but have already had two blocked this season.
This was a key play because it set the Packers up with good field position as opposed to being pinned deep in their own territory.
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Jamaal Williams 25 yard rush: 9:44 Q2
Following the blocked punt, the Packers wasted no time taking advantage. On the first play of the drive, Williams continued to shred the Bucs on the ground, this time picking up 25 yards. Williams run set the Packers up deep inside Tampa Bay territory.
This was a key play because it put the Packers in a great position to score and potentially take the lead.
Jamaal Williams one-yard TD run: 7:12 Q2
Williams finished off what he started. On a third and one following a stop by the Bucs defense, Williams finally found the end-zone. It initially appeared as if Conte was going to stop him outside of the end-zone but he muscled through the tackle for the score. The Packers took advantage of the short field, taking it 45 yards for a touchdown.
This was a key play because it was a touchdown that allowed Green Bay to take the lead.
Jameis Winston 34 yard pass to Peyton Barber: 7:12 Q2
After the score by Green Bay, the Bucs wanted to answer. They got off to a good start on the first play of the drive. Winston hit Barber on a screen and he rumbled for 34 yards before being tackled on the Green Bay 41. This play was a great way to start the drive, Barber was giving the offense a spark.
This was a key play because it started the drive off well, and put the Bucs in Green Bay territory.
Dean Lowry 62 yard fumble return: 4:17 Q2
Remember when I said Winston had one big mistake? Yeah, this was it. On a first-and-ten on the Green Bay 30, it appeared Winston was going to be taken down for a sack, which is fine considering how bad the line was. However, Winston still has the bad habit of trying to throw when he is being tackled. This time it costs the Bucs dearly, as the ball popped out of his hand while he was trying to throw it, into the hands of Lowry who returned it for a touchdown. This is inexcusable from Winston, he has to learn when to just take a sack, because a sack there is better than the six he gave up.
This was a key play because the Packers scored a touchdown to extend their lead to 17-7.
Jameis Winston eleven yard touchdown pass to Cameron Brate: 6:02 Q4
Third times the charm. On the Buccaneers’ third drive of the second half, they were finally able to score a touchdown. A hobbled Winston led the Bucs down the field with several big passes. Winston led the Bucs 78 yards down the field, finding Evans and Sims III for big gainers in the process. On a third and goal, Winston went to his usual red-zone target and was able to hit Brate for the eleven-yard score.
This was a key play because it was a touchdown that put the Bucs up 20-17 late in the game.
Mason Crosby 22 yard field goal: 2:01 Q4
Following the score by the Bucs, the Packers drove the ball down the field and tied the game at 20. Hundley continued to pick up big gains on the ground while doing just enough in the passing game. The Bucs failed to make a third down stop early in the drive but made a big one on third-and-one to force a field goal. The Bucs defense rarely makes the stops necessary to win a game, but this time they saved it from being completely lost.
This was a key play because it tied the score late in the game.
Kenny Clark three-yard sack: 1:09 Q4
The Buccaneers got the ball back with just under two minutes left and a chance to win the game. On the first play, Winston found Sims on a screen pass that went for 20 yards. However, the Bucs were flagged with an illegal block above the waist, so instead of first and ten from their own 40, the Bucs were looking at a first and twenty from their own ten. Tampa Bay continued with the self-inflicted wounds. On a second and seventeen, Jameis dropped back to pass, and immediately pressured and sacked by defensive tackle Kenny Clark.
This was a key play because it killed off any chance of the Bucs getting the late go-ahead score.
Aaron Jones twenty yard rushing touchdown: 5:59 OT
Once the Packers won the toss, I had a sinking feeling that the Bucs would not be getting the ball back. Unfortunately, I was correct. The Packers moved the ball down the field with ease, picking up nearly all their yardage on the ground. Green Bay picked up 60 of the 72 yards through Hundley and Williams. Neither of them ran for the winning touchdown, however, it was Aaron Jones who was getting his first carry of the game who ran untouched for the score.
This was a key play because it was the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
By now, we are used to the Bucs finding ways to lose games, but somehow it is still surprising. The Bucs makeshift offensive line was solid in the running game but gave Winston almost no time in the pocket. However, the offense still played fairly well given the circumstances.
The defense played decently, but per usual could not make a stop on third down when it counted. It is unbelievable to see how the Bucs have gone from one of the best third down defenses to the worst this season. If the defense does not show any signs of improvement for the rest of the season, Mike Smith could very well be gone.
Next up, the Bucs face a Lions team that is in the playoff race. Matthew Stafford is banged up, but will most likely suit up.
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