In what most people would call the Bucs “dress rehearsal” preseason game — meaning this would be the one time the projected starters for Week 1 would play most of the game — Tampa hosted the visiting Cleveland Browns in a rematch of their mid-season contest last year, where the Bucs were victorious in overtime.

Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and the first-team offense took the field first, and, well, it wasn’t pretty. After a quick first down, the Bucs offensive line gave up back-to-back sacks to force a punt. This would be the first drive of many where Tampa’s offensive line struggled to stay in front of the Browns’ stout pass rush.

With a short field to work with, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield drove the ball 18 yards in seven plays. Though that wasn’t much, it was enough to get within range of a 54-yard Austin Seibert field goal, which opened the scoring at 3-0 for the visiting team.

On the Bucs next drive, Winston and company got settled in. On a drive that was much better for the offensive line, the run game came alive and running back Ronald Jones looked efficient. A pair of Chris Godwin catches got the Bucs into field goal range, but rookie kicker Matt Gay missed his first field of the preseason by knocking a 37-yarder off the upright.

Over the next two drives, the Bucs defense would bend but not totally break. They would yield two more field goals, but that was it, keeping the game a two-score contest at 9-0.

After the Browns’ third field goal, the first half really started to slow down in terms of offensive output. Winston and the Buccaneers offense could not get anything going, and much of that could be blamed on the poor cohesiveness with the offensive line once again. Right guard Alex Cappa especially looked like he was not ready for the Browns’ first-team defensive line, giving up multiple sacks and pressures.

Right before the half, Mayfield attempted a deep pass down the field, but was intercepted by Bucs safety Jordan Whitehead. The game went to the half 9-0.

Bucs backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert came into the game in relief of Winston to start the second half. Winston exited the game 9-for-19 for 88 yards in one half of play.

As Gabbert was driving the Buccaneers second-team offense down into Cleveland territory, he injured his shoulder on a scrambling play and did not return. It appeared the injury might be serious.

Third string quarterback Ryan Griffin came into the game for the Buccaneers and picked up right where he left off the previous week; playing well and moving the ball down the field. In his first drive, he finished the Bucs 63-yard, 13-play stretch, which ended in a Cairo Santos field goal to bring the score to 9-3. On Griffin’s next series, with tight end Tanner Hudson as his go-to target, he orchestrated a 9-play, 69-yard drive which ended in a touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Leggett. That gave the Bucs their first lead of the game at 10-9.

After back-to-back punts, the Cleveland offense finally got something going in the second half. Browns quarterback David Blough led a 10-play drive that went 31 yards in distance, but that was enough to get them in field goal range to give the Browns the lead once again 12-10.

With time for one more drive, Griffin and the reserves took the field with a long way to go. In a well-control, well orchestrated drive, Griffin hooked up with wide receivers Justin Watson, Bobo Wilson and Scotty Miller to travel 72 yards in 15 plays. This set up Gay’s second field goal of the night, and a shot at redemption. This one was right through the uprights.

That gave the Bucs the 13-12 lead, and that’s how the contest would end. For the second week in a row, Griffin led a long drive in 2-minute fashion and Gay finished the job with a clutch field goal to seal a Buccaneers victory.

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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]

19 COMMENTS

  1. OL OL OL

    Keep drafting trenches. This isn’t rocket science lol.

    Onto the game thoughts.

    Defense kept this team in the hunt for the win. 1st string offensive line needs to improve its blocking.

    Hudson has to make this team!

    And Gay redeemed himself with another game winner.

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    Rating: +19. From 23 votes.
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  2. It wasn’t pretty but I’ll take the “W”! We have all seen the Bucs lose this game many times before. Perhaps this year we just might be able to pull the close ones out. Griffin is scraping out there that’s for sure. It will be interesting to see the severity of Gabbert’s injury. Do we wait for cutdowns to find a more accomplished Back up QB or has Griffin done enough to earn the chance to be back up? Something tells me BA likes QBs with game experience. I bet we keep 3 QBs and BA brings in another vet! Go Bucs!

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    Rating: +10. From 12 votes.
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  3. Funny how our first tier offense has not been impressive for the last two preseason games. Our first string OL is scary at this point.

    Our first defensive team has given us no cause for alarm. The Browns had good to great field position all through the first half.

    Our 2nd and 3rd string offensive teams keep winning the game for us.

    We might be deeper in general than I have been thinking. Keep that roster churning, BA.

    No interceptions by any of the QBs so far.
    ________________
    Go Bucs!!!

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  4. Ugh!

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  5. Arians noted in his post game conference that Winston did a good job protecting the football which did not happen in the past. You can see Winston is thinking about protecting the football more now.

    With that said if Winston makes quicker decisions and works his timing with Perriman the sky is the limit with this offense. But that starting OL has to make an effort to help Winston out and Rojo/Barber.

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    Rating: +6. From 10 votes.
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    • Yes Winston protected the ball he also did nothing as well. Though he did have one of his few perfect deep passes of his career dropped in the 1st. Still very disappointing for him, the expectation is to protect the ball and still deliver. Winston did not deliver, and outside of the mentioned deep ball didn’t look good at all. The only redeeming thing was Winston was twice as good as Mayfield who finished with a 30.6 rating. We don’t have a franchise QB, we have a QB that wouldn’t be a starter on most teams given the exceptional receiving talent this team has. Maybe they can turn it around for him but so far in preseason he’s taken a huge step backwards.

      Having said that the D played well certainly well enough to that we don’t need to score 30+ game this year to win. Rojo is still a mixed bag with a few good runs then reverted to his wussy east west BS for a losses. Can BA just smack some sense into to him or will we have to cut him to learn. Still high on Gay, one being a 5th rounder he’s got a charity salary for 4 years but I think he’s better than Santos. Right now we need every dime we can get to help out the O line.

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      Rating: -13. From 21 votes.
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      • Winston was the only QB on either team all night who couldn’t get the ball out of his hands.

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  6. It’s the O line. Need to make changes now.

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    Rating: +10. From 10 votes.
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    • Unfortunately as Arians said in his post game conference they all played bad so you can’t single out or replace a single player. Just have to go back to the drawing board and see what went wrong.

      Arians noted also that this style of defense that the Browns run is pretty close to what they see in practice with Bowles so they shouldn’t have struggled so much.

      It didn’t help that Ellington has looked bad in pass pro too.

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      Rating: +4. From 6 votes.
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    • Winston too slow on his reads!

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      • Too slow on his reads? There were no receivers open! Should he force it and possibly throw a pick or hold it and try to run for positive yards? Winston wasn’t great but the fact you can blame the Swiss cheese oline on him is laughable

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        Rating: +7. From 7 votes.
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        • I blame the OL and JW. If the line sucks you have to have a quick drop, a quick read, and quick release. When he does that he looks very good, but when he takes a 7 step drop and tries to go deep against a quality DL, bad things usually happen. Our OL sucked during this game.

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  7. Gotta look at the positives. The defense played well throughout the game. Just imagine when all hands are on deck (Vea/David). The secondary gets my game ball. The Offense had no turnovers and …..had no time. The O-Line needs work but we knew that. Special Teams could sharpen up, got two weeks to do so. Overall assessment – progress made, but not there yet. Observation: Biggest difference between this year and last year – this team does not quit, plays to the final whistle for the win. Go Bucs!

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    Rating: +15. From 19 votes.
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  8. This was ugly. I know Coach said at halftime that Defense played well, but I saw a lot of penalties, and it would appear that we still don’t have that good of a pass rush. Where was White tonight? I heard his name called one time. I guess they are afraid that if he gets injured we are scr*wed. The offense was ugly. Although Griffin keeps making the case that he should be 2nd string QB. I think Justin Watson had a pretty good game, and he has to stick. Bobo was amazing. Rojo looked pretty good too. But Alex Cappa? He had me sold last week, but how many sacks did he give up tonight? Yikes.

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    • Griffin may be making the case for higher than 2nd string.

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      Rating: -9. From 13 votes.
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  9. Well our problem the last few years was we had a high powered offense and a QB that turned the ball over too much. We didn’t have a defense to help keep us in games.

    This year, we seem to have a defense capable of keeping us in games. Our QB has limited the turnovers and the rest of the offense remains relatively the same.

    No reason not to feel positive so far

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  10. This game looked like they just ended training camp, and really didn’t even want to be there. They looked like they played to not get hurt. I hope that’s the case.

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  11. The cohesiveness of the offensive line and other positions attempting to pass protect was obviously poor. I did see Cappa allow penetration on one play, but in my observation, the real culprit in this game was Big Dot, who actually admitted that he was not mentally prepared for the game.

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  12. What the Buc. You’re a tool. First off, Jameis was playing without his all pro #1 WR. Take Edelman away from Brady, take Adams away from Rodgers, take Julio away from Ryan, take Thomas away from Brees, take Hopkins away from Watson, take Ju Ju away from Big Ben and every single one of them will struggle. In fact, Some of those did happen in week 3. Brady looked mediocre without Edelman, Ryan looked below average without Julio, and Baker looked lost without OBJ. Just missing your all pro #1 wideout by itself would make life very difficult for Jameis. Now add in the fact that he has a comically bad OLine protecting him, and an equally as comical group of RB’s going up against a nasty Browns DLine. I’m sorry, is Jameis supposed to be the second coming of Brady/Vick? Put any QB in the entire league in Jameis shoes last night and not one of them(Brady and Rodgers included) would have succeeded. All the Jameis haters over and over and over and over point to him making the dumb throw rather than eating it and living to see another down. Well guess what, he did Just that. And you finally get to see that neither of those options is gonna make a single shred of difference with this pathetic garbage OLine and running game. It’s either gonna be forcing throws, and losing the game early and by multiple TD’s, or it’s gonna be a slow painful methodical death like you saw last night. Take your pick. The moral of the story is, it’s not Jameis fault. Not by a long shot. Guaranteed, just having Evans alone would have made his stat line look much more passable. But still wouldn’t have made all the difference when he was running for his life or get planted into the ground on every single pass. Jesus you people are unreal

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