Tampa Bay missed an opportunity to pick up their fifth win in a row, losing to the Texans on a rare Saturday afternoon game at Raymond James Stadium. Houston took the win 23-20 in a sloppy game from the Bucs offense that saw them commit five turnovers.
Below is our weekly Most disappointing List from Saturday’s contest.
QB Jameis Winston
Another first drive, another pass interception by Jameis Winston. To make matters worse it was returned for a Texans touchdown and an early 7-0 lead. On Tampa Bay’s next possession Winston threw another awful pass that was also returned for a touchdown, but a penalty on the Texans negated the score. Houston was still able to get three points off of the turnover.
Winston’s third interception was a momentum killer as the Bucs’ Devin White had just recovered a fumble inside Texans’ territory but Winston’s first pass on the drive was intercepted. Besides the gifts thrown to the opponent, Winston also missed a touchdown pass to Justin Watson, after Watson slipped out of his break, then followed it up on the next play with an overthrow to a wide open Breshad Perriman.
Winston as usual had some terrific throws and scrambles, and got the Bucs back in the game right before the end of the first half, connecting with Watson to even the score at 17-17. Later, with a chance to get the Bucs in position to tie or win the game, Winston’s fourth down pass to Cameron Brate was dropped by the sure-handed tight end late in the fourth quarter. The Bucs got the ball back around the 2:00 minute mark but Winston’s fourth down pass intended for Dare Ogunbowale was picked off to give him four turnovers on the day.
Winston and the offense were hampered by the absence of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but his four interceptions had nothing to do with the Pro Bowl duo being out for the game. It was a pattern seen too often over the previous five seasons with the former Heisman winner – poor decision making – and this week the Bucs weren’t able to overcome the Winston roller coaster.
Winston finished the afternoon 25-of-48 for 335 yards, one touchdown and the four mentioned interceptions.
While the officials aren’t players, the NFL officiating is at an all-time low and clearly belong on any list that has the word disappointing in the headline. On the Buccaneers’ second possession, the Texans defender clearly arrived early and interfered with Bucs’ wide receiver Breshad Perriman. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians challenged the play, and of course lost.
On the first Texans possession Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean was called for defensive holding on third down on a very questionable flag. On Tampa Bay’s third possession Cam Brate caught a short pass and was tackled and the officials missed a blatant facemask call.
This all occurred within the first six minutes of the game. But this crew led by head referee Scott Novak wasn’t done with the blunders, blowing a play dead prematurely after the Bucs Lavonte David stripped the Texans receiver. Since it was an early whistle, the Bucs weren’t able to challenge the play. Of course with this officiating crew they most likely would have blundered the challenge anyway.
It is amazing that in 2019, with a multi-billion dollar television contract, the NFL puts such important decisions in the hands of part time employees.
KR Dare Oguwbowale and Special Teams
Ogunbowale struggled on Saturday as the Bucs kickoff returner, taking five kicks back for just 74 yards, constantly putting the Buccaneers in poor field position to start drives. But as head coach Bruce Arians said following the game, it wasn’t just Ogunbowale, the blocking was poor on the returns. The special teams unit also gave up a blocked field goal attempt in the first half.
RB Peyton Barber
Barber didn’t get many opportunities to carry the ball (five carries, 13 yards), of course when starter Ronald Jones has the hot hand that tends to play into the carry distribution, but even more so are fumbles. And Barber had a crucial one in the first half after the Bucs were trying to get back into the game. From Tampa Bay’s own 30 yard-line Barber ran for a nice gain before coughing up the ball. Houston went on to turn the turnover into a touchdown and Barber was virtually nonexistent after his fumble.