Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images
A winnable game got away from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and resulted in the same conclusion against a familiar opponent.
This one, however, was particularly gut-wrenching.
Multiple opportunities to pull out the home opener with a thrilling, game-winning drive ended with some poor clock management by Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter and an absent-minded final play from quarterback Jameis Winston. Following a 68-minute weather delay, Tampa Bay forced the Rams to punt and took over at its own 44 with 1:42 remaining and two time outs to burn.
Photo by: Daisey Charlotte/PR
Winston marched the Bucs down to the Rams 15 in five plays. The final down of that sequence was a 12-yard catch-and-run by Charles Sims. The running back was unable to get out of bounds and rather than stop the clock with one of two time outs still available, the Bucs wasted about 10-15 seconds in the process of running another play.
But that wasn’t it.
Facing third-and-15, Winston missed Sims on a short crossing route over the middle but former Buccaneer Mark Barron was flagged for illegal contact farther downfield while covering tight end Cameron Brate. The 5-yard penalty also came with an automatic first down, meaning Tampa Bay had nine seconds from the Rams 15.
First came a near-interception intended for tight end Brandon Myers. Then came the nail. Winston dropped back to pass, the field opened up in front and the 22-year-old stepped up. Problem is he kept looking downfield to pass despite being eight to nine yards beyond the line of scrimmage when Rams defensive lineman Robert Quinn came from behind and hammered him to the turf, ending the game.
Rams 37, Bucs 32.
“Give the Rams credit,” Koetter said after the game. “They made the plays they needed to make and we didn’t.”
The Bucs led 20-10 late in the second quarter but eventually lost their fifth straight in as many years against the Los Angeles Rams. Tampa Bay kept hope alive despite seeing that midpoint lead flip to a 37-26 deficit at one point in the final quarter.
Quarterback Jameis Winston (36 of 58 for 405 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) twice got the Bucs back within five points with touchdown passes to tight end Cameron Brate and wide receiver Mike Evans. Those scores, combined with the big, three-and-out defensive stand deep in Rams territory, set up the final drive to win the game.
The loss drops Tampa Bay to 1-2 on the season and squandered big statistical performances by Winston, Evans (10 catches for 132 yards, TD), Brate (five catches for 46 yards, 2 TDs), receiver Adam Humphries (nine catches for 100 yards), and linebackers Kwon Alexander (seven tackles, pick-6) and Lavonte David (eight tackles, one sack, one forced fumble).
The Bucs need a break from the Rams.
They’ve met their non-divisional foe five years in a row and lost all five. Sunday’s 69 combined points makes it the highest scoring matchup during that span, topping the 54 scored last year when the then-St. Louis Rams won 31-23.
Doug Martin. No Doug Martin. It hasn’t really mattered through three games.
Tampa Bay’s struggles running the football continued Sunday with Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers manning the backfield. The Bucs entered the week averaging 87.5 rushing yards per game and that will go down a little more after a 83-yard effort against the Rams.
Sims picked up 4.2 yards per carry and went for 55 yards and a touchdown on 13 attempts. That total got a major boost with a late 23-yard gain on fourth-and-1 in the final quarter. That helped set up Winston’s 7-yard touchdown to Evans, but was one of the few bright spots for Sims on the night.
Rodgers got five carries for 15 yards.
ALL OR NOTHING
Highlight-reel plays came in bunches. Los Angeles recorded a couple too many, though.
Of the Rams’ six scores, three went for at least 40 yards. It started with receiver Brian Quick’s 44-yard, opening-drive touchdown catch. That was followed up by a 77-yard fumble recovery by defensive end Ethan Westbrooks early in the fourth that put L.A. up 31-20 and receiver Tavon Austin’s 43-yard reception about seven game minutes later.
The Bucs made splashes of their own, but only one ended with six points – Kwon Alexander’s interception returned 38 yards to the end zone in the first quarter.
OFF THE MARK
Here we go again.
Kicker Roberto Aguayo is back in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
Going back to Alexander’s big play, his pick-6 was just that. Six points. Aguayo pulled the extra point wide and let Los Angeles stay up 7-6.
The rookie second-round selection converted his next two extra points before doing it again. Aguayo missed a 41-yard field goal with a fewer than five minutes left in the third quarter.
Before kickoff, the Bucs were one of three NFL teams that hadn’t forced a turnover.
They needed less than a quarter to finally get off the schneid and it came with Alexander’s pick-6. Then came another in the second quarter when safety Chris Conte jumped on a fumble caused by linebacker Lavonte David.
That’s pretty good, but not that great when looked at next to the two turnovers committed by the Tampa Bay offense. In addition to the strip-sack that turned into a 77-yard touchdown return, Winston was charged with his sixth interception late in the second when Sims couldn’t catch a pass out in the left flat and tipped it right into the hands of Barron.
A few learnings:
1) if the plan B from the outset at RB was Sims, somebody hasn’t been taking notice for three years (he’s called a 3rd down back for a reason) – mr Licht, that one’s on you…big time error on your part.
2) Donovan Smith simply isn’t good enough at LT. I’ve heard all the excuses about him being young, having to play next to scrubs at LG, and so on…he simply cannot play against the top DEs, and guess what, the top DEa play in the NFL. I’m not saying he’s useless – the aforementioned LG role is wide open, and the play of Dotson was down right disgraceful today…but a top flight LT he is not.
3) I’m not sure who to blame when our defense holds the offense into a 3rd and 17 at a critical moment in the game….and then we gift them a 1st down with not one but two penalties, but WTF are we doing. We’ve been down this road before so many times…why aren’t the coaches reminding the DBs that the only way the Rams get out of this titanic sized hole is with a stupid penalty? Why are our DBs not smart enough to realize this? Why are they put in a position on an island where such a penalty is even plausible?
4) I thought we supposedly upgraded our defense this year in all aspects…it sure looked like the same old “GMC and pray for help” defense we’ve running for years…the Rams couldn’t score a TD against the 49ers…let that sink in…but torched us…
5) I can’t help but wonder what difference a big, fast, good-hands TE might have made for us today….especially on those last few passes.
Too familiar today boys….too familiar.
We have a lot of good young exciting pieces (Winston, Evans, Humphries, VH3, Kwon, David, N Spence, Brate) but there are still glaring holes to fill. We NEED to upgrade at safety to many times our safety our out of position and giving up big plays and our O-Line needs work I agree with you on Smith I’m not a huge fan of his to this point. Luckily we have a good young player at the most important position but this team still needs work. I have defended Aguayo and the pick up to this point but I’m done he is losing us games we still have ti many holes to be spending a 2nd rounder on a K, imagine what a S, WR or OL would have done for our team. Ugh
LIVID! Just got home and am still LIVID! The Buccaneers absolutely BLEW it at home AGAIN! There is no WAY they should have lost this game and yet they did.
Roberto Aguayo is a CHOKE ARTIST! He cannot be counted on and yet the Buccaneers are stuck with him because he was drafted in the 2nd round? NUTS!
And how the HELL does a Head Coach in this league blow the clock like Koetter did? Wake the freap UP!
The defense was totally unprepared on FAR too many 3rd downs, many of them third and a freaking MILE!
I could go on and will. But DAMN IT! Can’t the Buccaneers do ANYTHING but disappoint their fans when it matters most? Seriously, how many home opening losses in a row is it now? Forget the playoffs, right now this team just STINKS!
Breath Garv, breath….
Defense needs work the future is looking bright with all the young pieces that we have but there are still way too many problems for us to compete for a playoff spot yet
Losing the game and you have two time outs deep in enemy territory,
Oh yea, really!
Koetter and Aguyo this one is on you two.
Give the Bucs of old 32 points and we run the season.
Bucs ball is defense Mr Smith and Mr Licht.
ok … so is our gm going to waste “2” high draft picks on a kicker next year.???
Disappointed is my word tonight. I thought we were finally over the hump and ready to compete, but I was wrong once again. We just don’t have enough quality players on defense or on the offense. Why we have all these rejects from other teams is beyond me as most don’t do much of anything, but take up space for more younger players who deserve the chance to play in the NFL. Mike Smith might be like Lovie Smith, past his prime. Meathead is in trouble because of the kicker selection in the 2nd round which already appears to be an issue. I did support that choice too, but now I understand why you don’t draftpunter and kickers in the early rounds. Coach koetter blew the time management at the end. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one screaming at the TV to call a time out with 48 seconds left in the game. I’ll give him a pass because he never has been an NFL Head coach before. There was some good things that happened? Winston to Evans, Brate, Humphries.
Jackson, Tandy, D. Smith, Verner need to take a seat.
The good news is the Bucs do not look as bad as they have for the last decade. But Licht is the major one to blame. He has learned nothing from his days with the Patriots. He wastes draft picks on ancillary positions (kicker, FB, kick returners) and trading up. He overpays for non premium positions. He got lucky last year with his first 4 picks last year being starters. But 4 players a year are not enough. A GM needs build a team with players that can outperform their contracts. We need more Adam Humphries.
Glad I left game little early before the storm hit. Pathetic game. Pathetic opponent. Pathetic end. Our defense was a disgrace. 3rd and 18 converted with a run play? Who lets that happen!!! Another 3rd and 17 blown on penalty. WR’s getting wide open with blown coverages. Kicker is worthless. Time to move on he sucks period. Was a bad pick. I didn’t like it at that time and I sure don’t like it now. Just horrible game. We have so many holes on this team still. They really had me fooled this would be the year we wouldn’t be a laughing stock of the league.
I still think we are going to have an improved team this year, because Winston is just so good. But now what I have feared the most is coming true. We just don’t have enough play makers on Defense, and as good as our linebackers are, it is not enough. We need more pass rush. I am sorry but this kicker is a perfect example of a wasted high pick. We do this way too much. The best draft masters wait for the draft to come to them. It takes really good scouting and patience. The kicker, and both of our TE’s that are either gone or sitting on the bench we have spent a total of 6 picks for. Do you think a couple of DE’s or DT’s or a Safety would have been worth a chance ?
Kicker lost this one for us plain and simple. No one else played as consistently poor as he did. I do think we will catch the Broncos sleeping on us and beat them. I think we can get the best of Denver’s QB at home.
Me too my friend.
@pinkstob I hope you’re right but I think this team will be annihilated by the Broncos next Sunday. We just the let the Rams score more points than they prob will over the next 4 games combined. There’s no hope for this defense and definitely none against a more talented bunch in DEN. I guess they could all come down with a stomach virus and miss the game but hell Case Keenum has carved us up twice so the backup prob will be good enough.
So if Licht is being consistent Aguayo should be kicking for his job next week. We cut Murray for a similar performance early last season. Austin Sefarian Jenkins sure could’ve helped in the red zone late but we will never know. The defense was awful. Grimes is stealing money, so much for the lockdown guy we heard about all summer. I’ll say it again Vincent should’ve been traded, he’s too old and doesn’t fit with the teams young core on offense. I can’t blame Mike Smith bc these players have been failures in every scheme. A secondary too slow for man coverage and not enough instincts for zone. If I never see Verner I’ll be perfectly fine. Play Banks, Hargreaves, AJB and leave the others on the bench. The DL has absolutely no edge rush and only gets pressure with blitzes. The safeties are also trash and I think it’s time to work in Smith to see what he can do. I hate that Koetter won’t run more no huddle to get Jameis in rhythm. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that he plays better with tempo. We get leads and then start calling plays like it’s the 02 Bucs defense standing on the sidelines and not Gerald,Lavonte,Kwon and the pips. I wanted Lovie gone last year and this year it’s Licht. I can’t blame every coach for these players not answering the bell but I can blame the guy who built this joke. Adios Licht!
I put this whole loss on the kicker. I’m already over this guy. You have one job, if you can’t do it, your gone. Defense is too thin as far as depth goes. 37 points to the rams? Just heartbreaking as all bucs games seem to be. We have many bright spots, just too many holes to fill in
It seems to me that if the defense did their job this team might be undefeated?! Giving up 40 plus in one game and just about the same in another game, makes it hard for the offense to keep trying to pull a win out! The team needed a kicker, so why all the fuss about his selection? If they would have waited he would have been gone. It’s done, so instead of bitching all the time, maybe standing behind him and cheering would be better and helpful. If Winston has a sub-par game, fans still stand behind him. The same should hold true for your kicker, who is actually very good. It doesn’t help any player’s confidence when fans are nagging and nasty at a player because he wasn’t perfect! Nobody is perfect. Look at yourself in the mirror and say that…., it’s true.
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