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In what was arguably the biggest regular season game since 2008, when the Bucs needed just one win in their final four games to clinch a playoff spot, the 2016 Buccaneers feel short in their bid to upset the NFC’s top ranked Dallas Cowboys and take a step closer to making a case for the postseason.

The stage was set for the Bucs to show the nation who they were with a national television audience watching, but quarterback Jameis Winston, who had been better at protecting the football over the team’s five-game winning streak, fell back into his early season pattern of turnovers. Tampa Bay’s signal caller accounted for four turnovers, and also a costly personal foul penalty in the first half.

Head coach Dirk Koetter was asked if Winston’s issues hurt the team.

“Yeah, sure did. He got his arm hit on the fumble,” Koetter said. “They blitzed. We did relatively well but one guy got off and hit his arm on that. We had a penalty. Jameis let his emotions get the best of him on that. That can’t happen. He had the one interception at the end of the half. He did a great job in the third quarter, though, getting us back in and then we couldn’t get anything going in the fourth.”

Winston explained what happened on the penalty. 

“I was protecting my teammate,” Winston said. “Doug (Martin) runs hard for us all the time, and got thrown on the ground late. It was passion versus emotion and I can’t do it.”

While Winston didn’t have his best game of the season by any stretch, his third quarter play got the Buccaneers back into the game, and even an improbable lead following a dismal first half.

“We saw the streaky side a little bit of Jameis,” Koetter said. “He got off to a slow start. Even though we got a good drive and got that early lead, against a team like this, you can’t kick field goals and expect to win. You look at the stats at the end and we’re 1-for-3 in the red zone. Those other eight points would have helped us. The second one was that penalty that you mentioned earlier. That’s been hurting us the last few weeks and it caught up to us tonight. The flip side is what Jameis was able to do when we got some rhythm going there in the third quarter. That’s a plus. That shows you what we’re capable of doing when we’re firing. We got a little hot there in that third quarter and we came right back.”

A somewhat dejected Koetter was asked if, despite the loss, was this a building block for his young football team.

“Well, that’s hard to judge, tonight. Tonight it just feels like you got your tail kicked by a good football team. That’s a possibility. We came here with higher expectations but we got beat by a good football team, and give them credit.”

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About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at mark@pewterreport.com
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4 years ago

The difference in this game was Dallas’s offensive line, compared to our offensive line. Fans want more flash, draft a receiver, we only have Evans. Yeah, we only have Dotson, and Gosder playing R.G.. One was rightfully benched, the other is a holding, false start, hands to the face waiting to happen. At center we have the scrapper, cut by Atlanta serviceable, but no where near elite. Pamphile was an after thought at L.G., and Smith hasn’t exactly taken the next step. So when the Bucs are on the clock, they would do well to consider taking the best O… Read more »

Reply to  surferdudes
4 years ago

Agree with you. I have said this the whole season, we need a bigger, stronger, faster center who can help his buds on the left and right side of him then those buds can help the buds next to them. It all starts with the Center. We beat ourselves in this game. It clearly showed our two weaknesses, Center and WR on Offense Coach Smith was back to his old conservative defensive scheme. He was making sure the deep pass wouldn’t hurt us, meanwhile the short passes killed us. We should have played much closer to the line. There was… Read more »

4 years ago

We lost that game b/c cherilus couldn’t block after the 2nd quarter. Worst OT play I’ve ever witnessed. He couldn’t land blacks on screens either. Winston couldn’t sit in the pocket and throw..had less than 2seconds before pocket collapse. Did anyone notice Kwon had 21 tackles and 1 FF? Holy sh*t. lavonte kicked it up a notch too. But Tyron smith ate our RE’s lunch all game…spence was no match

Reply to  deeznuts
4 years ago

You’re absolutely right deez. The O-line, and in particular Cherilus, prevented any sort of offense in the 4th quarter after a stellar 3rd quarter that had Dallas on their heels. Koetter said Cherilus was hurt but tried to play through it.

4 years ago

Dallas played a great game IMO and still only won by 6 points. Demar should be back this week and he can’t come back quick enough. Everything offense related was due to the poor protection Jameis received and primarily at the RT position. Clean that play up and we had plenty of open receivers just no time to find them. The defense bent but made plays in the second half to keep us in the game. Jameis missed Mike on the deep shot in the 4th quarter and in a close game like this we needed him to make that… Read more »

4 years ago

Proud that these guys still almost pulled it off. The loss of Gholston was hard to take and hopefully it’s not long term. We still had a chance to win the game despite the loss in the turnover battle. The fumble was lack of protection, the one INT was end of half, the other Winston’s arm was hit as he threw it and the final one was an end of game pick. Happens to the best sometimes (see Drew Brees last week). Let’s hope these guys have very short memories as we’re back at it in 5 days. Now it… Read more »

Mad Buc
4 years ago

We knew how to beat them thanks to NY stuff the box stop the run and force them to throw I was wondering why didn’t do
that the defense wasn’t as stifling as it has been?

4 years ago

NYG probably had better 2nd level coverage probably but that wasn’t the difference. Yes the Oline cost us big but Prescott came to play last night. He executed very well. He was like 30/34 at one point and our secondary coverage was pretty good. Way better than last season. He didn’t play like that against the Gmen. So credit to him but discredit to our Oline

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