BREAKING: Tampa Bay Buccaneers petition NFL to shorten games to 10 minutes.
Yeah. It’s like that.
Patriots 23 – Bucs 3
Unlike the previous two weeks, when they were in the game well into the final minute until the football gods chose to piss on them, at least today Tampa had the decency to let themselves out of serious competition for the day well before the start of the second quarter. This was good, as it absolved me of my self-inflicted requirement to watch the game in order to tend to some items on my “To Do List.”
With my attention divided between screen and task(s), it didn’t take long to realize just how pitiful the Bucs would be throughout the remainder of the day.
After taking a small, fleeting lead at the midway point of the first quarter, Tampa executed whatever the football equivalent might be for a self-destruct protocol. A missed field goal attempt early in the game by Bucs kicker Rian Lindell seemed to make head coach Greg Schiano nervous, as he elected to have quarterback Josh Freeman and the Tampa offense go for it when facing 4th Down on two successive possessions when they were conceivably within Lindell’s range. Instead, they ended up turning over the ball to New England on downs.
That’s when things really started to go downhill.
Of the ten offensive drives the Bucs mounted, four ended after failed attempts to convert on 4th Down. Three ended with punts, and then there was one Josh Freeman interception. You’re not going to win much with a game plan like that. As for Tampa’s defense, they looked strong, particularly in the early going, forcing the Patriots to punt on their first three drives. But, Tom Brady’s going to find a way to score, and that’s what he started doing once the New England offense was dialed in. The Pats scored 17 unanswered points in the second quarter, which you can do when your offense controls the ball for 11 of the quarter’s 15 minutes. Holy. Crap.
It didn’t get much better for the Bucs in the second half, either. While the defense did their best to keep things relatively close, including holding the Patriots to six additional points and snatching an interception from Tom Brady, Tampa’s offense never was able to get anything going. It was with a sense of inevitability that the seconds ticked away on the game clock until the gun mercifully sounded.
The downward slide is threatening to snowball, but–on paper, at least–the Bucs have a chance next week to turn things around, as they host the 1-2 Arizona Cardinals during what will be their annual “throwback” game. Elsewhere in the NFC South, the New Orleans Saints are 3-0 after beating those same Cardinals, while the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers are knotted up at 1-2 apiece. The Bucs are Tail-End Charlie at 0-3, and it’d be nice to notch a win before going into their bye for Week 5.
I guess we’ll see.