Sunday was about as close to a must-win game as the Buccaneers have had this season.
The Bucs were in a position to fully take control of the NFC South and secure the first half of a tiebreaker over the Atlanta Falcons. It would have been the second time this year the Bucs earned such a prize against a division rival, but instead the team backslid on all of the progress it had made up to that point.
Not for nothing, but the loss comes a week after the Bucs failed to measure up in a test against the Detroit Lions. Three times the Bucs have faced likely playoff teams this year and all three times they've lost.
All three losses have also come at home.
Perhaps most damning, the offense has gone completely silent in each of the games the Bucs have played against good teams. There were signs of life in the loss to Philadelphia but in back-to-back weeks Tampa Bay has failed to muster up any sort of momentum or production on offense and the result has been a mere 19 points scored.
That's the sort of thing that leads to losses like the ones we've witnessed the last two weeks, and it doesn't bode well for how the team will fare against the Buffalo Bills on a short week.
Todd Bowles was at a loss for why the Bucs offense was so bad in Week 7
Making matters even more depressing is the fact that head coach Todd Bowles is at a loss for how the offense is playing as badly as it is. After the game, Bowles was asked if he had any explanation for the struggles and he admitted he couldn't come up with one.
"I couldn't give you an explanation. We did practice well, but we've gotta bring it to the game on Sunday," Bowles said after the loss. "All three phases had a hand in it, but we've got to be able to score points to win ball games."
Bowles was right to call out all phases of the Bucs performance on Sunday, but there should be a heavy slant toward how much a poor performance from the offense factored into things. Some may say the defense got bailed out by sloppy redzone offense from Atlanta, but the Bucs own offense did absolutely nothing to capitalize.
Three times the Bucs defense turned Atlanta over in the redzone and all three times the offense gave the ball right back after doing exactly nothing with the chance. The defense gave up a back-breaking play that set the Falcons up for a game-winning field goal, but that came after nearly 60 minutes of trying to not break while being bent every which way by the offense.
It happened last week when the defense mostly kept the Lions in check and happened again when the offense couldn't offer more than 16 points of run support. Things were supposed to be different this year but all of the same miserableness remains.