Ryan Fitzpatrick nearly rallies Buccaneers past Bengals after Jameis Winston gets benched
CINCINNATI (AP) — Jessie Bates returned Jameis Winston‘s fourth interception for a touchdown Sunday, and Randy Bullock kicked a 44-yard field goal on the final play that sent the Cincinnati Bengals to a 37-34 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who now have a question at quarterback.
The Bengals (5-3) recovered from their second-worst drubbing under Marvin Lewis and pulled it out with their only scoring drive in the second half. Andy Dalton had completions of 23 and 9 yards to A.J. Green that got them in field-goal range and salvaged another uneven performance.
Cincinnati had a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver while surging ahead in the first half, then managed only 95 yards in the second half — 50 of them on the final drive.
“A win is a win, but this one feels a little weird,” Bengals linebacker Preston Brown said.
Winston was benched after matching his career high with four interceptions. Ryan Fitzpatrick rallied the Buccaneers (3-4) to a 34-34 tie with a pair of touchdown passes, including his 18-yard toss with 1:05 left.
Tampa Bay has allowed at least 30 points in five games and changed defensive coordinators two weeks ago. This time, Winston was the Bucs‘ biggest problem. He threw four interceptions for the third time in his career, including one directly to Bates that the safety returned for Cincinnati’s fourth defensive touchdown of the season.
Winston opened the season on a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. He has thrown 10 interceptions in 3½ games, one less than he had all last season.
“I’m definitely the reason we came up short with this game, and I know that I have to fix it,” said Winston, who was 18 of 35 for 276 yards with five sacks.
Winston went to the bench, and Fitzpatrick pulled Tampa Bay even.
Fitzpatrick threw a 72-yard touchdown to Mike Evans , his fifth TD pass of at least 50 yards this season — most in the NFL. He also led an 88-yard drive to the tying score, hitting O.J. Howard for an 18-yard touchdown and completing another pass for the conversion. Fitzpatrick finished 11 of 15 for 194 yards and a passer rating of 154.9.
Now, the Bucs have to decide which one will lead the NFL’s top-ranked offense. Coach Dirk Koetter sidestepped questions about his starter after the game.
DeSean Jackson caught a 60-yard touchdown pass that moved him ahead of Jerry Rice for the NFL record. He has 24 TDs of at least 60 yards. It also was Jackson’s 29th career TD of at least 50 yards , tying Randy Moss for second-most since the 1970 merger behind Rice’s 36.
Cincinnati couldn’t hold a 27-6 lead set up by a big first half. Joe Mixon ran for 114 yards in the half and scored on runs of 1 and 8 yards. Tyler Boyd had six catches for 112 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown.
The Bengals were coming off a 45-10 loss at Kansas City on Sunday night.
LOTS OF INTs
Winston has thrown at least two interceptions in five straight games, tied for the most since 1990. His 13 interceptions over that span are tied with Fitzpatrick for the most in a five-game stretch over the past five seasons.
Buccaneers: RB Ronald Jones II suffered a hamstring injury in the second half.
Bengals: G Clint Boling hurt his back late in the first half. DE Carl Lawson hurt his right knee. CB Dre Kirkpatrick left in the third quarter with an Achilles injury that kept him out of practice.
Buccaneers: Play at Carolina on Sunday, finishing a stretch of four road games out of five.
Bengals: Have their bye week, followed by a home game against the Saints.
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