Once again the Buccaneers’ defense found themselves in position to make a game-saving play at the end of the game but were unable to capitalize.
The first came at the start of the fourth quarter with 14:55 left to play. Lavonte David was able to tip Panthers quarterback Derek Anderson’s pass into the hands of Orie Lemon who returned it deep into Panthers territory. This would’ve set the Bucs up inside the 30-yard line trailing 16-10. But instead, Larry English was flagged for roughing the passer. The call was questionable, albeit, but nevertheless, it allowed Carolina to retain possession while tacking on 15 yards for an automatic first down.
“Missed opportunities,” said Lavonte David. “Orie got his, but a penalty called it back. “Tough loss. Tough, hard fought football game. I think guys really played hard, but it’s the story of our season. We fell short today.”
The roughing penalty wasn’t the only break for Anderson and the Panthers that drive. On third-and-7 from the Bucs 27-yard line, the tenth-year pro threw a bullet over the middle to Philly Brown. Alterraun Verner made a great break on the ball and appeared to have an easy interception that would’ve kept the game within one score. But instead, like we’ve seen Bucs’ defenders do all too often, he dropped the game saving pick. Kicker Graham Gano went on to make his fourth field goal of the afternoon, giving the Panthers a 19-10 lead with 8:31 left in regulation.
“Alterraun made a great break on the football but couldn’t haul it in,” David said. “Like you said, the game didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to today.”
It goes without saying that penalties have been a glaring issue all season and a huge reason for the Bucs 2-12 record. But their routinely missed fourth quarter interceptions shouldn’t be overlooked, either.
In Week 1, Dashon Goldson jumped an out route but whiffed on what would’ve been an easy pick six and a 21-20 victory against Carolina.
Then in Week 8, Johnthan Banks had a similar play to the one Verner had on Sunday where he dropped a low slant pass. This would’ve avoided the game tying field goal, and ensuing overtime fumble by Austin Seferian-Jenkins that resulted in a Vikings touchdown. Had Banks capitalized the Buccaneers would’ve escaped with a 13-10 win at home.
“That’s how our season’s been all along,” Banks said. “We have our opportunities and don’t make the plays we have to make. We’re a young team and we’re getting better, but we have to learn how to finish games and make plays.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
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