Well, that was embarrassing.
Cardinals 40 – Bucs 7
Short version: Following last week’s impressive outing against division rival Atlanta to start the new season, reality reasserted itself as Tampa promptly traveled to Arizona and proceeded to step on its collective crank.
Apparently, the Bucs forgot pretty much everything that made them a force to be reckoned with last Sunday against the Falcons. Everybody forgot how to block, or tackle, or catch passes, or to stay on the right side of the ball or line of scrimmage..
Quarterback Jameis Winston, coming off a solid game last week, threw four (count ’em: four) interceptions and lost a fumble. Five turnovers from your QB is rarely a recipe for success, so here’s hoping he shakes off those missteps and gets back to doing what we already know he can do.
Though you can argue that all four picks (somewhat unfairly…especially the one returned sixty yards for a touchdown) are on Winston, he was by no means alone in contributing to the day’s spanking. For one thing, there were injuries to key players, including workhorse running back Doug Martin. Here’s hoping he and the other players forced to leave the game early recover fully and rapidly.
It wasn’t all bad news. Receiver Mike Evans managed to hang tough against a truly impressive Arizona secondary, notching six catches including one for Tampa’s only score on the day. Though he didn’t get to score, Adam Humphries still managed a half dozen grabs of his own for almost seventy yards.
As for Arizona? Simply put, they came to play. Setting aside last week’s loss to the Tom Brady-less New England Patriots, QB Carson Palmer put up some strong numbers while guiding the Cardinals offense, completing 18 or 31 passes for 300+ yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. Tampa’s defense was unable to put any kind of real pressure against Palmer, hampered by extended periods on the field thanks to a string of short or broken drives from the Bucs offense. Meanwhile, the Cards defense hounded and harassed the Bucs all day, including planting Winston three times. Then there were those aforementioned turnovers.
So, yeah. Not a pretty day, at all. However, it’s only Week 2. Now that they’ve had a taste of both sides of a final score, here’s hoping the Bucs will snap back in and get back so some good football.
The loss drops Tampa to 1-1 on the still minty fresh season. Carolina and Atlanta also won, which means the NFC South is all knotted up (ain’t that always the case, though?) with the Bucs just barely holding on to the top spot by the one hair follicle lone the skin of their teeth. New Orleans lost again, dropping them to 0-2, but if history is an indicator, this division can turn and twist and do all sorts of crazy yoga moves before the season’s over.
Next up for the Bucs? Their home opener at Raymond James Stadium, against the recently rebranded (or retro-branded, if you prefer) Los Angeles Rams. The last time I cared about a team called the Los Angeles Rams, Joe Pendleton was their quarterback. I almost feel like the Bucs should break out the Creamsicle uniforms, or something.
It’s a Bucs life, yo.