On a game that held the perfect football weather, it did not hold the perfect football result for Bucs fans as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell to the Detroit Lions by a score of 24-21.

The Buccaneers won the toss, but deferred to the second half, giving Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense the first crack at things. This was the right choice because the Buccaneers defense has been great at home, especially when momentum was on their side. With the crowd behind them on the first drive, they did hold strong and forced a three-and-out and a punt by the offense – mission accomplished.

Unfortunately, when the Bucs got their hands on the ball for the first time themselves, they didn’t do much with it either. Running back Doug Martin got the start after missing last week’s game with a concussion and got the first two carries of the game right off the bat for Tampa Bay. Those two carries went for six yards, but after a miss on third down, the Bucs were forced to punt themselves.

After they got the jitters out of the way, Stafford and the Lions offense fired on all cylinders on a 7-play, 74- yards drive that included Stafford going 5-for-5 with 72 of those yards coming through the air. The drive was made possible due to big plays by Detroit running back Theo Riddick, who got the start for the injured Ameer Abdullah, and tight end Eric Ebron.

In a spot where the Buccaneers have fallen short many times this season, instead of letting the game get out of hand early on, Winston and his offense responded with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended with an equalizing score. Wide receiver Mike Evans was the catalyst for that drive with two big catches of more than 10 yards each, capped off by a 1-yard Martin touchdown run.

After that things started to get ugly on both sides.

On the Lions next drive, Ebron caught what should have been a big pass, but coughed it up on a forced fumble by Bucs linebacker Lavonte David, who also recovered the fumble. That was David’s fifth forced fumble of the year, which is second most in the NFL, as well as his fifth fumble recovery, which is the most in the NFL. But, on the second play of the Buccaneers next drive, they, too, fumbled the ball off a deep pass to tight end O.J. Howard.

After driving the ball 39 yards on their following drive, the Lions were forced to eventually punt. The Bucs started driving the ball down the field on the next series, but a deep pass from Winston to DeSean Jackson was cut off by Lions cornerback Darius Slay for yet another turnover, this time an interception – and those were just getting started.

In response, Stafford led the Lions on a 6-play, 46-yard drive that was engineered by a 38-yard catch over the middle from Stafford to receiver Marvin Jones that got his team to within the 10-yard line. After the deep catch, on the very next play, Stafford hit wide receiver Golden Tate for a five-yard score to take the lead 14-7.

Down yet again, the Bucs took over with the ball at their own 19 yard line. Thanks to big plays from wide receivers Freddie Martino and Chris Godwin, the Buccaneers offense got the ball all the way to Detroit’s 23-yard line before a Martin fumble in field goal range cost the team points – and cost Martin his carries for the rest of the game.

Thankfully for the Buccaneers, though they weren’t doing anything on offense, the Lions didn’t either for the rest of the half. In fact, the last two series for Detroit ended in Matthew Stafford interceptions; the first to Bucs cornerback Brent Grimes, the second to cornerback Robert McClain.

The game went into the half 14-7 in favor of Detroit.

Running back Peyton Barber took over for Martin in the second half and ran the ball well to kick things off. Barber on the ground and Howard in the air got the Bucs offense rolling until a Winston interception ended that drive right at midfield.

The damage off the turnover was minimal as the Bucs defense held strong and allowed just four yards on the Lions first possession of the second half, forcing another punt. However, the Bucs couldn’t make the most out of their defensive fortune, either, as a costly fumble by Winston in Lions territory ended what looked to be a promising drive.

Following that turnover, the Bucs weren’t as lucky as they were before. Stafford and company woke up and orchestrated a 6-play, 51-yard drive that ended in six points from the feet of Detroit’s running back Riddick, who scored from 18 yards out.

But, rather than laying down, then down two scores, 21-7, the Buccaneers offense instead came to life. On the following drive, Tampa Bay went 75 yards in 10 plays to bring the game within one score. Big throws to Jackson, Godwin and Humphries all played a major role in getting the Bucs to within striking distance, which was capped off by a Howard catch in the end zone. The score was then 21-14.

After a five-play drive that ended in another punt for Detroit, the Bucs offense got back to work starting from their own 28 yard line. The key plays for this drive came at three deep passes from Winston to Evans, two of which were missed, and one which drew a costly pass interference penalty against the Lions defense. After the penalty, Barber gave his offense a big boost with a 16-yard run that got his team all the way to the two-yard line. On the goal line, Koetter went into his bag of tricks and gave offensive lineman Leonard Wester, who was reported as eligible on the play, his first NFL touchdown to tie the game up 21-21.

As they have at home this season, the Bucs defense rose to the occasion at home and held the Lions to just 32 yards in seven play and a punt on their next drive. The Bucs took over with just over five minutes to go in the game in what could have been a potential game-winning drive. However, after getting 11 yards on the second play of the drive, the Bucs offense stalled and were forced to punt it back.

That next opportunity proved to be the one the Lions needed, and the one the Bucs couldn’t afford to give up as Stafford and his offense drove the ball down the field on final time for the game winning field goal.

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston finished the game 26-for-38 with two touchdowns, two interceptions and a lost fumble. Doug Martin got the start at running back, but only got 26 yards on 10 carries. Peyton Barber ended the game with 58 yards on 12 carries. Chris Godwin led the Buccaneers in receiving yards with 68 on five catches. Howard was next with 54 yards on five catches, and Jackson was after him with 41 yards on four catches.

The defense did well with interceptions by Grimes and McClain, but the story coming out of this one was the injury to Gerald McCoy’s shoulder/bicep. McCoy was pretty emotional on the sideline after being sidelined. It could be something that forces him to miss the rest of the season.

Share On Socials

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]
Subscribe
Notify of
13 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jlog
Jlog
4 years ago

So we still calling those Winston fumble flukes?

mark2001
mark2001
4 years ago

Sikkema…what is your problem? Your prediction was off by a point. Didn’t you remember we have a new kicker and we don’t miss extra points hardly ever anymore?

Mike.Seven
Mike.Seven
4 years ago

This was a winnable game, Lions offered opportunities, however, #3 ints gave this game to lions, now need to wait for the new coach, not sure a top level coach will take this job if he has to base the team on Winston, Draft picks will offer a good player at the 3-4th pick.

surferdudes
4 years ago

I’m a pessimist by nature, so even after we tied the game, I thought we would still find a way to lose. Anyone else have that feeling? Thank goodness Stafford had a banged up hand, no telling how much they would’ve beat us by. Yeah Winston had his usual bonehead plays, Stafford threw two bad picks also. Bad teams don’t over come those gaffes, Matt Ryan had three bad picks, his team could. This is a bad team period. Can no longer look to just one player, like Winston, and say he’s the only reason we lost. We could’ve stopped… Read more »

Horse
Horse
4 years ago

Well this game definitely told us the Coaching won’t be back. Disappointed in Winston as he has regressed, Conte was horrible and they were eating him alive in the middle, Mike Smith called his usual defensive scheme which is always almost there, DL absolutely sucks with McCoy or not, what the hell was Koetter using Sims for the running plays when it was 21-21. What a disaster of a season. Top priority is DL, DL, DL! This is our second biggest problem and coaching is first. It’s over for me. If I’m Licht I’m saving my ass and would go… Read more »

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
4 years ago

This was another total team loss. The Turnovers just can’t happen. Jameis will just have to learn to take the damn sack. AS for the picks, Desean deserved that temporary benching for his effort on that play. Come back to the damn ball! The throw to Howard, how you miss the hold on the defender is beyond me. This team just has some terrible luck. Even the Desean play when the ball was ruled down, and pooped up, only to be picked. I was thinking what the hell is going on?! There is a few things Koetter is killing himself… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  cgmaster27
4 years ago

Nice to see someone else saw the hold of Howard on the interception. Jameis has his faults at times, but we should all not jump to the conclusion that every pick is on the QB.

pinkstob
pinkstob
4 years ago

This team sucks. For over an hour I’ve been trying to think of better way to summarize this game but I can only find myself summarizing this season. I don’t have anything else to add for now.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  pinkstob
4 years ago

pinkstob; I know the feeling. Not worth it to get upset. As soon as the game was over I went out for a walk and enjoyed the fresh air. Other than the Bucs, it was a beautiful day. Glad to be alive!

pinkstob
pinkstob
Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

Very true Horse. Well said.

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  pinkstob
4 years ago

you don’t need to word it any other way than that Pink. This team does in-fact suck.

revfish
revfish
4 years ago

A couple of disturbing trends in this game even as it was exciting to be at the stadium watching it live. On the first series of the game, we had a 3rd and 2 and we throw a one yard route. Isn’t that the exact same thing that happened last week on 3rd and short vs. Green Bay. We are a professional football team and reflecting on situations, running a route and throwing a pass that goes beyond the sticks should have been the first thing on their minds. Secondly, this is the second week in a row that the… Read more »