Tampa Bay found itself in uncommon territory Sunday afternoon and then ended up with an all-too-familiar result.
Up 24-0 midway through the second quarter, the Bucs found a way to blow a huge lead and watch the Washington Redskins celebrate their biggest comeback in franchise history.
“All losses really hurt, but there are some that really leave a deep scar,” Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith said after the 31-30 defeat that drops the Bucs to 2-4 on the year. “This is definitely one of those … with two drastically different halves that we played.”
Quarterback Kirk Cousins delivered the decisive blow with 24 seconds remaining. The fourth-year signal caller took over trailing 30-24 with 2:24 to work with and proceeded to march Washington 80 yards downfield. Cousins punctuated the drive by splitting a trio of Bucs defenders with a 6-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Reed.
Before that sequence occurred it was the Redskins defense coupled with a wasted opportunity by Tampa Bay that set up the late-game dramatics. The Bucs were in a first-and-goal situation from the Washington 5 and could have gone back up by two scores, but three straight stuffed runs resulted in a 21-yard Connor Barth field goal. On third down from the 1, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter opted for a pitch-left to running back Charles Sims that got blown up in the backfield for a 2-yard loss.
The final miscue of the gut-wrenching defeat came as Tampa Bay and quarterback Jameis Winston tried hurrying to get into field goal range. Two straight completions to wideout Mike Evans and tight end Cameron Brate got the Bucs to their own 42. Winston then dumped a short pass to Sims, who proceeded to pick up 19 yards before committing a costly gaffe in Washington territory. As he was being taken down, Sims tried to toss the ball backward to a non-existent teammate. The fumble was jumped on by Redskins defensive lineman Chris Baker with 5 seconds left, effectively ending the game.
Sunday’s depressing finish ruined what began as the Bucs’ best performance of the season. After forcing a three-and-out on Washington’s opening possession, Tampa Bay needed all of three plays to go up 7-0 when Winston hit Evans for a 40-yard touchdown.
That hookup was the first of eight on the day as Evans shredded the Washington defense for a second time in as many years. The second-year pro finished with 164 yards and the touchdown.
The fast start didn’t stop with those early fireworks, either. Tampa Bay scored points on each of its first three drives, then added a defensive touchdown when Jacquies Smith strip-sacked Cousins and Howard Jones raced 43 yards to the end zone.
There wasn’t much to celebrate after that big splash play.
Beginning with Cousins’ 8-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to get Washington on the board, the Redskins went on to post 21 unanswered points and outscored the Bucs 24-6 in the second half. Not helping the cause was another afternoon littered with yellow flags. As the Redskins were busy setting a franchise comeback record, Tampa Bay was approaching a mark of its own by committing 16 total penalties for 142 yards.
During his postgame press conference, Winston spoke about Tampa Bay failing to close out what could have been the team’s third win of the season.
“Gotta finish. You’ve gotta finish,” the rookie quarterback said. “We didn’t do enough to finish. One thing we always talk about is finishing and starting fast. We started fast this game, now we’ve got to finish. It’s something obviously that we have to go over when we get back.”
Winston ended his day completing 21 of 29 pass attempts for 297 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. His other scoring pass went for seven yards to rookie Donteea Dye in the second quarter. The reception and touchdown were both career firsts for the rookie out of Division III Heidelberg University.
Tampa Bay outgained Washington 479-355 and 190-50 on the ground. Running back Doug Martin went off for 136 yards on 19 carries and Sims chipped in 49 on 10 touches.
Moving the football got a little tougher in the second half after a pair of receivers – Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy – exited with injuries. Those setbacks led to Martin, tight end Luke Stocker and Sims finishing as the Bucs’ top receivers, respectively, behind Evans.
The Bucs continued with their weekly tweaking of the secondary and didn’t receive any better results. Johnthan Banks returned to action, Tim Jennings was a healthy scratch and Jude Adjei-Barimah saw his most action ever, but Cousins completed 82.5 percent of his passes (33 of 40) for 317 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Two weeks after Jennings took plenty of heat for his subpar performance against Jacksonville, fellow cornerback Mike Jenkins and safety Bradley McDougald stepped into that role with a pair of forgettable afternoons.
Although Tampa Bay limited Washington running backs Alfred Morris and Matt Jones to 34 combined yards on just 15 attempts, Bucs on the back end didn’t get much in the form of pressure on the quarterback. The final stat sheet credited Tampa Bay with seven hits on Cousins but Smith’s strip of in the second quarter represented the lone sack.
Tampa Bay stays on the road next week and travels to NFC South rival Atlanta for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff against the Falcons.
WR Vincent Jackson, LT Donovan Smith, LG Logan Mankins, C Joe Hawley, RG Ali Marpet, RT Gosder Cherilus, TE Luke Stocker, WR Mike Evans, QB Jameis Winston, RB Doug Martin, TE Brandon Myers
LDE Will Gholston, DT Gerald McCoy, DT Clinton McDonald, RDE Jacquies Smith, SLB Alterraun Verner, MLB Kwon Alexander, WLB Lavonte David, CB Johnthan Banks, CB Mike Jenkins, SS Chris Conte, FS Bradley McDougald
QB Ryan Griffin, CB Tim Jennings, S Keith Tandy, DT Tony McDaniel, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, T Reid Fragel, WR Russell Shepard
DID NOT PLAY
QB Mike Glennon, C Evan Smith
Paid attendance: 72,912, FedEx Field
Game time: 3:14
Well let’s see how I can do this without massive amounts of profanity.
First off the good. Our offense looks pretty darn good. Jameis played an outstanding game, especially considering he was playing with two receivers the whole game. He was money in a lot of big throws today.
Dougernaut looked great again and this young offense is impressive. We are set for a long time at down key positions on offense guys so we do have that. Barth is also money and should’ve been on this team from day one.
Now for the bad, THiS DEFENSE IS GARBAGE! No pressure on cousins all day except one play. Where was McCoy at all game? This secondary made cousins look like Joe Montana. I’ve never see a worse secondary in my life. That is officially now our weakest spot without a doubt.
As for Lovie , I’m done with this conservative p?$$*! How many times this season are we going to have the ball before half with timeouts and just run the ball till halftime?! It’s that mind set as to why he’ll never win.
The play calling at the Gia line was weak too. Maybe one play action to give Jameis a chance to roll out. And the pitch in third was a horrible cal.
Lovie won’t be fired mid season, it just won’t happen but I’ve seen enough. Next year make koetter your head coach, that locks down our offensive system for years and keeps Jameis in the same playbook. Get a new defensive coordinator and send Lovie and his ex bears rejects to the streets.
This loss is squarely on Lovie and I’m tired of his lack of fire, or skill for that much. Draft dbs with our first two picks.
We have a good young nucleus on offense guys but with movie we will never win anything. I’m tired of this guy. Sorry for the long winded response but after my noles and bucs lose in heat trenching fashion I need to vent.
Ps did anyone really think Washington wasn’t going to score on the last drive?
I’ve got to agree. Rarely do I eat my words, but this time I must. I have defended Lovie before, but in the face of this loss, it’s apparent that we will never consistently win with his leadership.
When you ask the question, why would a team (Chicago) fire a coach with a 10-6 record? This game answers that question loud and clear.
I Like this team and we see the foundation for a really competitive offense. But when you’re on the 2 yard line with a QB, that’s had a near flawless game and he’s not involved in the series of plays that wins the game, it goes to a mentality and personality that defines your team. With Lovie we will never be a “win or die team” – just not in his DNA. Time to move on I’m sad to say!
Agree with everything you said. But on the final drive before halftime, its obvious what happened. Lovie thought you could take unused timeouts from the first half into the second half. That’s the only logical explanation for not using two in the first half and then using all three so early in the second half. He thought he had five to use in the second half instead of three. Lovie is killing us. I want him fired, but then what do we do on defense. He has basically brought in guys that fit only his system including backups. We would have to purge around 60% of the defense if a new coach came in.
Good point Entre, maybe he did think he could keep them for the second half. WHy else would you not freaking use them? Lovie is such a clown.
There are no words to cover this disaster. We can’t cover, tackle, and DUMB, PENALTIES.!!Not a brilliant call on the one yard line third and one so lets change RBack and go outside. Sorry like I said no workds to cover it. Maybe, FIND A NEW JOB.
Penalties, penalties, penalties. I have never seen a more undisciplined club that this one, except for the team last year. Clock mismanagement and penalties beat us today and while the defense also couldn’t shut down Cousins, it was the penalties that kept Washington alive when everything was failing. I’m not sure if Smith should be fired or not, but he HAS to get a grip on the penalty situation.
I realize that we probably won’t fire Lovie mid-season, but I think we should. And I am not naive enough to think firing will fix all our problems. It won’t, but that’s not why you fire a coach mid-season. You do it because you feel that he is not the coach to progress your team and you don’t want to risk the chance that the team gets hot at the end of the year, making it harder to justify firing him. Although you never know, we may get lucky and stumble into a Dan Campbell/Miami situation.
Ugh, where to begin…how about the good: 1) WINSTON looked very but the pro QB today…poised, accurate, deep balls, check downs…I wanted progress and I definitely got that today. 2) the OL..blocked well in both phases, but what’s with the boneheaded penalties. 3) Evans…unstoppable…gotta get him the ball more. 4) McDonald showed his best Vince Wilfork today…nice effort.
Next the good, but maddeningly not good enough. 1) Martin…fantastic stats…hard running throughout…but what keeps him from being a great RB is getting caught in open field at the 5 yard line with a chance to ice the game…you have to get in the end zone there Doug..it was a really good game for him, but could have been great. 2) J Smith…awesome speed rush for the strip sack…why was that the only play you made in the whole game….
Finally, the just not good enough at all day. 1) Lovie…completely out coached…how can we waste three time outs so that we have none left for a final drive…a drive that a Winston was making happen. How can we get out scored 31-6 over the final 40 minutes. How can we give Kirk Cousins so much time that he looks like the next coming of Tom Brady….yes Lovie you are allowed to bring pressure. 2) GMC…not even close to good enough…2 tackles…that’s your stat line…and that seems generous given what a non factor you were…the game is on the line and you get absolutely zero pressure on Kirk freakin Cousins allowing him to drive 80 yards for the winning TD. 3) Mike Jenkins….why are you even on the field…you can’t stop the vaunted Kirk Cousins to whoever that WR was….just bench yourself please to let Lovie save face. 4) I don’t know who to blame this one on…maybe Lovie….maybe Frazier…maybe Our LBs….maybe our DBs, but if one more team marches down the field on us and scores by playing pitch and catch over the middle of the field with seam routes and slants, I’m going to puke….that game winning TD could have been called by a peewee coach against our D.
My take: Weak leadership within the team itself. I see lots of miss coummunication on the Defense. Jenkins was terrible and no legit DE rush which I have brought up before. I don’t see the advantage of letting Lovie go as a Head Coach; what I do see is to take some of his power away from him. I believe the GM needs to inform Lovie he isn’t going to be the Defensive Coordinator anymore after this season and hire a new one. I’ll say one more thing; so far all the big bucks they are paying a few players might want to think about it on future contracts.
At this point, I just feel like throwing up…GAVE IT AWAY!!
At what point did I think we were going to give it away? It’s when somebody had the bright idea to let Sims have the ball on 3rd and goal. Dougernaught gets you all the way there and you figure he can’t get in? Give me a break. Lovie should be run out of town and let Koetter take over. Surely Frazier can run the defense as good as Lovie, hell I think I could run it that well. Great game for Winston,Martin and Evans, piss poor game for the defense.
Lovie is creating a culture of loosing. He is allowing these players to believe that they are getting better. Always looking for the bright spots and using terms like “we are getting better” to try to defend the play pathetic play of “HIS” defense on the field.
This team is undisciplined, can’t finish, and has no heart. Those are attributes of a poorly coached team.
I totally agree that firing Lovie mid season will not change the fortunes of the team this year, but what it will do is hopefully put an end to this culture of mediocrity and loosing that he has established here over the past two seasons.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a coach with a 4-18 record and 1 home win in a season and a half should not be coaching in the NFL and for sure not in Tampa Bay.
Lovie coaches to not lose, we shut it down before the half. Had time to get more points, but he’s always affraid to open up. Three run plays from the five, and settling for a field goal win a T.D. beats you is what losers do. Why even have a Q.B. when you won’t throw it from the friggin five!! They scored their last T.D. on the same slant they scored on earlier only from the opposite side. Way to fool the fools we are.
That slant was horrible. I was watching the game with my cousin who is a Washington fan. When they got it inside the 10 yard line, I looked at him and said y’all are going to score on an inside slant. It was too predictable. Everyone scores TDs on inside slants against us.
We F`n SUCK!
I’ve never been as embarrassed to be a Bucs fan as I was yesterday. Lovie’s Losers always seem to find a way. Now back to the Draft conversations.Sadly, the only hope we have.
It starts with the Glazer kids. Since they took over just terrible hires. Just wish they would sell the team to someone like the lightning owner who truly cares. Lovie will be here all year and that’s sad for Buc fans. We deserve better.
The sad part is that I expect crap like this to happen now.
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