What do you do you’re initially up by as much 24 points in the 2nd quarter, and 17 points at halftime?
Well, if you’re the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, odds are 50-50 you’ll proceed to blow that lead right out of your ass.
Redskins 31 – Bucs 30
Things started out with everything coming up roses and unicorns for the Bucs. 24 unanswered points, rookie quarterback Jameis Winston throwing laser-guided passes, receivers actually catching balls and whatnot. Granted, it was the Washington Redskins, another team teetering awash in a sea of mediocrity and sailing toward oblivion, but as a long-suffering Bucs fan I take my positives wherever I can find them. Even when Washington managed to notch a touchdown late in the second quarter, I wasn’t panicking. The Bucs had this, right?
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins came out of the locker room after halftime like a man possessed, or at least somebody whose coach has doused his jock in Bengay. Shaking off his first-half slump, Cousins proceeded to throw for three TDs, including what ultimately became the game-winning score with just 24 seconds left on the clock, leaving the Bucs to wonder what the hell had just happened.
First off, the offense popped the clutch at some point. After coming out swinging to start the game, Winston and company soon found themselves unable to move the ball with any real effectiveness. Despite a decent outing for Winston, particularly early on, that included 297 passing yards and two touchdown passes with no interceptions. Running back Doug Martin had a solid day, as well, with 196 rushing yards on 19 attempts. Defensive end Howard Jones recovered a Redskins fumble and returned it for a touchdown. Even the kicking game was a huge improvement, with returning Bucs kicker Connor Barth connecting on all three of his field goal attempts and all three point-after attempts.
All of that wasn’t enough, it seems.
The stat that makes my ass itch? Tampa’s 16 penalties for 142 yards. Most were stupid infractions that served to keep Washington’s offense on the field and their drives alive, giving Cousins and his guys renewed opportunities to push the ball to pay dirt. It’s the gimmees that really just irk the living hell out of me, and it’s worth noting that Tampa currently sits in second place behind the Buffalo Bills for most penalties so far this season. This is not a club you want to be a part of, folks. I mean, they’re ahead of the Oakland Raiders, for fuck’s sake.
The loss drops the Bucs to 2-4 and the basement of the NFC South, one game behind the New Orleans Saints, who won today against the Colts, and four games behind the Falcons, who also won in the game against Tennessee. As I write this, Carolina is winning against the Eagles and stands poised to edge past Atlanta for top of the division. If they win, they’ll remain undefeated at 6-0.
Next up for Tampa? Traveling to Atlanta to take on those aforementioned Falcons, who’ve only lost once, this year. Will the Bucs learn some of the painful lessons imparted today?
Guess we’ll see.