Yeah, today is what you’d probably call “a step back,” or perhaps “a return to reality.”
Colts 25 – Bucs 12
Today’s contest between Tampa Bay and Indianapolis had at least one interesting distinction: It was the first time in five years that the NFL’s oldest and youngest starting quarterbacks faced off against one another. At 40 years old, Colts QB Matt Hasselback looked to be in fine form, whereas Jameis Winston struggled off and on all day long.
Coming off last week’s performance, it looked like everybody in a Bucs jersey lost the handle. The offensive line didn’t do Winston many favors, offering him up for five sacks on the day. He also threw an interception, his first one in two weeks. Unlike other games where he seemed able to shake off setbacks in the early going, today he and the Bucs offense just never seemed to find the right gear.
Meanwhile, the defense wasn’t having much luck getting the Colts offense off the field, letting them hang around to keep the game close while Tampa nursed a meager lead. Inevitably, opportunity presented itself and the Colts were able to seize the lead. Of course, they were helped more than a bit by the Bucs, the most penalized team in the NFL, who once again committed unforgivable infractions at critical moments to keep Indy drives alive.
After one drive in which Tampa held the Colts to a field goal, one of the Bucs players was called for leaping off a team mate in an attempt to block Adam Vinatieri’s kick. The result? Indy took the first down and the improved field position, then stuck it right in Tampa’s heart with a touchdown that ultimately proved to be the score that put the game forever out of reach.
Anemic offense. Forgiving defense. Penalties. Not a formula for long term success. Just sayin’.
The loss drops the Bucs to 5-6, however the Saints also lost, meaning that Tampa is still one game up from them and not dwelling in the NFC South Division cellar. Atlanta also lost their fourth in a row, and their continued implosion might be a bit of good news for Tampa if they can get their act together. As for the Carolina Panthers? Forget it. They’re 11-0 and will clinch the division title next week if they win and the Falcons lose again. Technically, the Bucs are still in the NFC Wild Card hunt, but from what I can tell before I my eyes glazed over, they basically have to win out, and likely get some help with losses by Green Bay, Atlanta, and/or Seattle.
Next up for Tampa? Hey, whaddaya know: those same Atlanta Falcons travel to Tampa for a division rival rematch. The Bucs won their first meeting back in Week 2, so you just know Atlanta’s coming for some payback and hoping to stop their downhill slide.
Bucs life, yo.