The Buccaneers lost a heartbreaker to the Rams, 19-17, to fall to 0-2 on the season.
Poor execution on special teams – a blocked punt that St. Louis turned into a field goal, and a blocked field goal that cost Tampa Bay three crucial points in the fourth quarter – hurt the Bucs. A Josh McCown interception in the red zone in the second quarter also cost the Bucs at least a field goal opportunity.
“That was a tough one to lose,” Bucs head coach Lovie Smith said. “Anytime you have a blocked punt, blocked field goal and in the red zone getting ready to get points on the board and you throw an interception, and then not be able to get enough pressure and I think we got one takeaway – so it was good to get on the board – but you’re not going to win many games.”
It wasn’t just bad plays by the Buccaneers players, but ultra-conservative play-calling on third-and-2 and third-and-7 situations in the fourth quarter that robbed Tampa Bay of the chance for a touchdown that would have won the game. The fact that Smith kept all three of the Bucs’ first half timeouts in his pocket heading to halftime was a cardinal sin and robbed Tampa Bay of a potential scoring possession.
The Rams lined up for 36-yard field goal to go ahead 10-7 at halftime with 1:23 left in the second quarter and ran the clock down to 43 seconds before calling timeout. That was 40 seconds the Bucs could have used on their ensuing possession.
After the field goal, the Bucs had just 33 seconds left – and would have had 1:13 had Smith called a timeout on fourth down prior to the field goal attempt. After a pass to Bobby Rainey went for minus-3 yards, a horse collar tackle penalty gave Tampa Bay 15 yards out to its own 32-yard line with 23 seconds left. Two plays later, Rainey ran for eight yards out to the Bucs 40-yard line and there was no sense of urgency to stop the clock.
After the game I asked Smith if he regretted not using a timeout prior to the kick and going into halftime with all three timeouts at his disposal.
“When they were trying a field goal? No, not necessarily,” Smith said. “I think we were in decent position based on what happened. At the end, I had some timeouts there. We had one big play before, but just wanted to go into halftime and not go in the hole anymore.”
Not go in the hole anymore? It sounds like Smith didn’t want to tempt fate and have McCown to throw the ball much on that final drive. So I followed up my question with this query: “When you answered my question and said you don’t want to get into a hole anymore, does that mean you don’t have faith in Josh McCown throwing the football in that situation?”
“No, right before the half I didn’t want to put more points on the board and feel like the only thing that could happen was something bad then,” Smith said. “I don’t know your question and what you really asked, but at the end of the [half] I felt like we needed to go in then without anything else happening. That’s the decision I made. It doesn’t have anything to do with having faith in anybody. It was a head coach’s decision that I made.”
Smith didn’t want to put more points on the board? Does he mean he didn’t want the Bucs to put any more points on the board and he was satisfied with a 10-7 halftime deficit? Or does Smith mean he didn’t want the Rams to put any more points on the board via a possible McCown pick-six?
The bottom line is that Smith felt like the “only thing that could happen was something bad” at the time.
Wow. No wonder the Bucs lost.
“Everybody’s philosophy is different, but if you can try to push it down there and get a field goal – that’s great,” McCown said. “There’s a bigger picture that we were looking at there. Coach made the decision.”
NFL possessions are so precious, and because possessions are so precious NFL coaches like to preach ball security on offense and getting takeaways on defense.
The Bucs only had nine possessions against the Rams, but because of Smith’s ultra-conservative nature of heading into halftime with all three timeouts remaining, they only tried to score on eight of them and it cost them in the end.
Scott Reynolds is in his 22nd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Good article and good questions asked. McCown is terrible. I don’t know how lovie could have much faith in him. He gets pressured he’s going to do dumb stuff. It’s a bad pattern emerging. This pass rush is non existant, and this coaches decision making is beyond strange and conservative. Not kicking that FG last week was crazy too. I really thought his experience and defensive expertise would be good. I really don’t know what to think other than this team is bad.
PR is absolutely right. Any normal team would have called the timeout to go into their last possession with 2 timeouts and over a minute of time left. It was ridiculous to watch the clock wind down, and showed very poor game management – which was a weakness of Lovie in Chicago. While he will argue against this, this shows a true lack of confidence in the whole Buc offence. This was a possession that the Bucs needed, and was just another costly mistake – one which was very avoidable.
Let’s keep this real and not just pile on the Coach. Lower your expectations this year; we are in rebuild whether you like it or not. I get it why Coach Smith did what he did in the draft? He’s getting better players to replace them at most positions. He took good players regardless of position. He has to say we are in a position to win: what the heck do you expect him to say. I would start trading as many as players that I can afford to be without. Martin is the first one, Bowers, Stocker, Jackson, McCown, Dotson, Barron.
Horse, are you kidding me? This is one of the worst coached games I’ve ever seen. Stop being a Lovie homer. How about 2 1st and 10 situations in the RZ, and they call 6 running plays. I bet you think that was a good idea as well…SMH.
They spent millions upon millions in the offseason yet they’re in “rebuild?”
Horse: You would get rid of Vincent Jackson (our best wideout and pro-bowler), Demar Dotson (our best tackle and arguably most promising OL – who is still improving and isn’t close to his ceiling), and Mark Barron (improved a ton from rookie year to last year and was a first-round draft pick)??? You can “afford to be without” these guys? I respectfully disagree.
You’re so afraid of being called a homer that you don’t even bring up what was the biggest play of the game, the play that decided the game?
Yes, the Bucs played awful, however Mike Evans was getting up when the refs called off the game… how does that happen. There’s 8 seconds left, he has 8 seconds to get lined up or to get off the field, he wasn’t still on the ground and the refs stopped the game and ended it instead of just allowing Evans to get off the field or to just stand there for the spike.
Stop worrying about what others outside the area thinks, it’s a legit issue to bring up and doesn’t make your a homer. I understand the rule, I’ve always hated the rule but I get its need. Again however, the ref stopped it not when Evans was on the ground with 14 seconds left, he stopped it 6 seconds later once he was getting up and gave no chance for him to get off the field or lineup.
After 24 years I can officially say I’m done with the Bucs. Tired of stressing myself out ever year! Losing to a team at home with their 3rd and 2nd string QB is terrible!!!! Thought this year was going to be different, but I was wrong again. Tired of wasting my money on a low caliber team!
have to agree with you, savin. went to the game, sweltered in the heat, drenched in the rain, put up with drunk fans, people walking up and down the steps, sitting behind a HUGE man who refused to sit down, and then watching a horrible team … this is the worst I’ve seen in years … surprised no one commented on the lethargy which is Mankins … I watched him and play after play he barely moved … wonder why so many drink the koolaid in the preseason when it is clear there is nothing to get hyped about … long long season ahead
What a masterpiece. Was that Peyton Manning at the helm for St. Louis or a former Southern Miss walk-on turned 3rd string NFL qb? I guess we made him look that way with our lack of pass rush (often) or the fact that we cannot cover ANYBODY (ever) in the secondary. According to the boxscore we had 2 passes defensed for the WHOLE GAME (Barron on Austin on the injury play and one by LJ – which I don’t remember). When was the last time you saw an entire game without a single play you could recall where a DB tipped a ball away from a receiver?
Lovie’s style is exactly like what all the Bears fans have been saying we would hate. We have two huge talented WR’s on the outside who specialize in going up and making plays on the football downfield in coverage. We have gone two games and not taken a SINGLE shot downfield on the outside. Both of these guys have proven that they will go up and high-point the ball and make plays and we have them in single coverage and absolutely refuse to take a shot. Today we ran the ball repeatedly on 3rd downs and didn’t pick them up. Why can’t we throw for a first down like the rest of the entire league (including the rams today with A THIRD STING QB)????????
Also, why in the world is Robert Herron on this football team? I am assuming we drafted him b/c Arroyo liked him back in his Wyoming days. PR reported about this guy dropping balls every single day in camp and then we all saw it with our own eyes at the night practice and in preseason. I was shocked when he made the team. Quickness in the slot doesn’t matter when you have stone hands. There is nothing wrong with cutting a 7th round draft pick. It’s not like we have a ton invested in the guy. We had other much better receivers in camp who could actually catch the ball but we have this guy who clubs a well thrown ball today on a key play. We were lucky to get bailed out with the RTP call.
Lovie said we aren’t rebuilding and we want to win now…….but he gives the gem of a quote to SR above. I am so confused by this guy. This defense is going to be much better than Schiano’s right? All the defensive fundamental drills that GS made the team do were stupid right? We just made two backup quarterbacks look like hall-of-famers with wide open receivers running all over the field like a college game.
So bad so far.
@horse: expectations duly lowered, but I agree with @jhop88 that I had every reason to have some expectations…if Lovie is going to put the game in his D’s hands every time then he needs to have a better defensive plan (our safeties against TEs has clearly not worked) and without GMC we are a much much worse defense. …we need something else on offense to score points when GMC is gone in preventing points against…the conservative redzone attack does not equate with assembling the Dunkaneers – what was the point of that? Lovie needs to evolve his thinking – a QB like McCown is not the answer….we need an answer in the next draft and his name is Mariota!
EEB, I agree wholeheartedly!
This is the QB that was brought in because he makes good decisions, protects the ball and because coach did not trust the young QB. He could not do worse, it may be time to give him the ball and prepare for next year.
I said this last year when everyone was calling for Lovie and thrilled after we hired him. He’s not that good unless he’s surrounded by insane, handpicked talent, and even then we’ll come up just short of the Super Bowl. He’s a ship stabilizer who will lose you games, like he did today. With all of our draft picks and an open checkbook, this is what we get – I would have preferred to see what Gruden could do with those, but he’s too happy making bank to shout on TV. Get ready for a lot of frustration over the next couple of years.
the ten second runoff probably wouldn’t have happened if the dumbass training staff didn’t run on to the field once they hit the field the call has to be made
I’m not one to criticize play-calling and most often can see the logic , albeit disagree, with coach’s decisions during the game. But it’s clear that whoever was calling a running play when we had a 3rd and I think 7 to settle for a field goal (that was blocked) was not confident in the QB play. Then with the line stacked with but one safety deep on a 3rd and 1, again we ran the ball when the defense alignment dictated a pass play would have had a better chance. But as I see it, the root of the problem doesn’t lie with the 10 second run-off or the offense’s conservative nature….it’s with the defense’s inability to generate any kind of pressure or cover anyone. Last week Anderson and this week Davis looked like Joe Montana carving us up as receivers were wide open. There was no “tight window” through which they had to throw. The defenders weren’t even close. It’s been pitch and catch. There is no one making the QB uncomfortable in the pocket. They are able to relax and scan the field.
Which team had the third string Q.B. making his first start? Wow 2nd, and 3rd stringers kicking our butts, wonder how the elite Q.B.’s are going to look? Me thinks Lovie, and his McClown need to go back to the basement to watch football, not put the Bucs in the basement!
I don’t mind conservative game plans on occasion but I NEVER like ULTRA conservative. Schiano played not to lose, please Lovie don’t do the same. You load our team with a creative OC and lots of new talent and don’t trust them to win a game for you? I’m almost dreading watching Thursday night. We had better open up the offense because the defense is hurting.
Before I say anything about that game, SR I’m glad you had the testicular fortitude to ask Lovie the exact question I had in my mind leaving the game and especially diving right in with that follow up question that needed to be asked based on his crazy response. Right on SR! As for the game, I know exactly what’s happening. Lovie’s comments and responses don’t make sense because he’s flat out lying to protect his QB. Based on seeing the game I have all the data I need to conclude what’s going on. Lovie no longer trusted McCown after he threw that red zone INT with no Bucs in the area back across his body as he was running towards the sideline. It explains not wanting to run a 2-minute offense before the half, it explains the run on 3rd and 7 and it explains all the tosses and runs on 3rd and 2. Now I haven’t made up my mind whether Lovie should have had any more confidence in McCown after that INT so maybe he made the right in game calls, but he surely had made two monumentally horrible off the field calls. The first is bringing in McCown as his starter (although truthfully I can’t think of a better option either on our roster, in FA or from the draft) and the second horrible call was not telling the truth when SR asked him this question and just say, “I didn’t trust McCown to make the plays he needed to make after that first INT. I trusted the defense without McCoy more than I trusted McCown not to turn the ball over again.”
Wow, he really sounds like a loser with a comment like that….they need to open it up even if it means more interceptions, or they will lose. In today’s NFL if you aren’t scoring over 20 points, it is all over.
Time of possession and running the ball doesn’t mean nada in a passing league where teams score fast. Our defense isn’t generating sacks, picks or fumbles, that Tampa 2 only works if that’s happening. Considering that’s not happening, unless we throw more to score and open it up the losing will continue.
Lovie is really trying to put a square peg in a round hole. He’s soooooooooooooo frickin’ stubborn!
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