Ever since the Bucs began training camp, fans have been waiting.

Ever since the Bucs finalized their rookie draft class, fans have been waiting.

Ever since the news broke that DeSean Jackson, Chris Baker and J.J. Wilcox were joining the Buccaneers, fans have been waiting.

And ever since a tiebreaker was what held the Bucs from making the playoff for the first time since 2007 seven months ago, the fans have been waiting.

They’ve been waiting for Friday night.

But, for their team’s first win of the 2017 season, they’re going to have to wait a little longer as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell to the Cincinnati Bengals 23-12.

It was made known that the starters on offense were only going to play the first quarter. They ended up playing just a little bit into the second quarter, but it only totaled to two drives, regardless. Quarterback Jameis Winston was an efficient 9-for-13 for 99 yards, but failed to cap off the opening drive with a touchdown, settling for a field goal instead.

For the wide receivers, Mike Evans dominated the early gameplan with four catches and 58 yards on seven targets. Two of the targets that were incomplete were fade routes on the goal line, which Bengals cornerback, Adam “Pacman” Jones, played well. DeSean Jackson managed one catch on his only target, which went for six yards, and Adam Humphries ended the game with one catch for three yards, but dropped his other target.

For the running backs, most of the first-team offense was about testing that high-powered passing game, so Doug Martin and Jacquizz Rodgers’ 2.8 yards per carry average (both had 4 carries for 11 yards) looks worse on the stat sheet than it really was.

The offensive line was shaky early on, but as the game progressed, so did their play – especially left tackle Donovan Smith. Smith was getting bullied on the edge on the first few plays, but was then seen throwing defenders out of the pocket until the starters took their rest.

For the second and third string guys, despite not getting a touchdown, Ryan Griffin appeared to out play Ryan Fitzpatrick. Griffin was 4-for-9 for 57 yards before his night was ended due to a hard hit on his throwing shoulder. Fitzpatrick ended the game 6-for-13 for 45 yards with a rushing touchdown, but also an interception. He just didn’t look as precise. And, in the late-game minutes, Sefo Liufau went 4-for-5 for 33 yards.

From the receivers and running backs, the big surprise was receiver Chris Godwin only getting one target all night, which he reeled in for 14 yards. As for the rest of the bunch, receiver Josh Huff had a hot-and-cold night with one catch on three targets, but also a very nice kick return. Tight end Cam Brate had two catches on two targets for 27 yards, but fellow tight end O.J. Howard was held without a catch. Running back Peyton Barber led the team in carries with eight for 21 yards, and rookie Jeremy McNichols finished the game with 12 yards on two carries with one target that wasn’t a completed catch.

On the flip side, the first team defense had a tough time handling the Bengals’ first-team offense minus a fantastic interception by cornerback Vernon Hargreaves to end their first drive.

“That was a huge play,” Bucs head coach Koetter said. “He picked that thing off on the one-yard line. We challenged Vernon to take the ball away and he’s done it.”

Against second-team players and in a rotational role, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald looked explosive and disruptive. But, for the most part, you could tell this was a first game with real contract for these defenders, who have been light on contact all training camp – to avoid injury.

“You just don’t know yet,” Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “You’ve got to see what’s going to show up on the film. We’ll see once we get back to the film room. It just felt good to be back out there… I always expect the first preseason game to be full of mistakes. It’s rare you go into a first preseason game, your feet are always right, you step straight and you don’t lose on a rush. That’s how the first preseason game goes. It’s going to be rusty, but that’s what it’s for. They’re keeping score, so obviously we want to win, but we’ll see how it looks on film. We’ve got a lot to fix though.”

Kendell Beckwith and Sterling Bailey had the only sacks of the game for the Bucs, and J.J. Wilcox, Justin Evans, Kwon Alexander, Devante Bond and Robert McClain were all tied for the tackle lead with five.

In the kicking game, Roberto Aguayo made just one of his two field goal attempts, and also missed an extra point. Nick Folk, on the other hand, hit his only field goal, which was of 45 yards, and did not have an extra point attempt.

Tampa Bay will next take the field again in Jacksonville against the Jaguars next Thursday.

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]
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Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0
4 years ago

Backup DL and OL was iffy. Reedy has the edge from the rest of the WRS at the bottom of the depth chart. Winston looks good in an up temp short passing game. All RBs impressive upfield running. Rickey Bullough stood out along with VH3, McDonald, Spence and K. Alexander. Fitz struggled a lot while Griffin with protection was on point. Anger MVP for sure. Aguayo…just sad. Evans had a mixed bag with some good open field tackles but missed a tackle and some assignments. Beckwith with two decent tackles going downhill but disappeared for rest of game and his… Read more »

macabee
macabee
4 years ago

Will the Bucs wait for the next Hardknocks to do Aguayo or will they do him on the plane tonight? Lol. Ok. Just kidding, but not the opening premiere that I expected. This is the first preseason game but there is still an awful lot of work to be done. I’m relieved in a way because I’m now going to ignore the hype and set reasonable expectations for my team. Go Bucs!

WVBuc
WVBuc
Reply to  macabee
4 years ago

I know you went with some sarcasm about doing him in on the plane ride home but I’m not sure it is necessary…the sarcasm. After tonight, what could Roberto do in the next three games that would make anyone comfortable with him as the kicker this season? If the team were to release him today, I don’t think anyone could say all he needed was a chance. Nick Folk may or may not be the answer himself but he is the leader in the clubhouse and nobody else on the roster is going to make the cut. Options are limited… Read more »

pinkstob
pinkstob
Reply to  macabee
4 years ago

Mac as long as we’ve been doing this as fans shouldn’t we all be ignoring the hype in the offseason?

Dman
Dman
4 years ago

A lot of rust all the way around except Anger. That guy is amazing. Jameis looked good, more patient, a little more accurate [not the high throws] D line was out of position all night – hoping its more scheme than being dominated. WR’s and RB’s all looked good. Even Charles Simms. Not sure what we can say about Arguyo… you want to pull for the guy but he’s got to come through and he’s just not. Impressed with Beckwith and Bullough. That Beckwith is even on the field after ACL surgery in late Nov 2016 is incredible. He looked… Read more »

Motobird
Motobird
4 years ago

Tonight’s game…Bucs are who we thought they were. Potentially decent! But for those people thinking moving Marpet to center and getting Sweezy back would mean 7 yard runs every time, not so fast. That said, I think the O-Line is good enough and the schemes were very vanilla. Standard Jameis comfort level – Evans and Brate. Will take some time to work the other guys in. Defensive line, based on just playing and not game planning, did not physically dominate anyone. They may be good or even decent, but no one was blown away by a pass rush or run… Read more »

WVBuc
WVBuc
Reply to  Motobird
4 years ago

You might want to let Marpet play a game at center before you declare the change ineffective. You seem to be unaware that he didn’t play against the Bengals.

pinkstob
pinkstob
4 years ago

Overall I thought the staters looked pretty good on offense. On defense, they looked as I expected also since they are not practicing live tackling in camp in order to prevent injuries. The result is what I expected, a healthy team that gets pushed around in the run game. We’ll see if the starters get enough practice tackling solely in the preseason games to be ready for Ajayi.

surferdudes
4 years ago

Freddy Martino needs a seat next to Berto for the next round of cuts. Lost count on the number of drops he had with at least one killing a drive. It was head scratching watching him drop passes while Godwin only got one target. If who stays as receiver is based on kick off return ability the team is making a big mistake. If I were H.C. I’d order all my Returners to never take it out of the end zone, more bad can happen then good. Example, the opening kick off! Return to the 12, penalty, start your first… Read more »

Randy H.
Randy H.
4 years ago

Aguayo just cut, ’nuff said.