Buccaneers edge Browns 13-12 behind K Matt Gay’s game-winner
The rookie’s game-winner capped a 16-play drive lasting more than seven minutes. Cairo Santos booted a 23-yard field goal in the third quarter and third-string quarter Ryan Griffin threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Leggett for the Bucs (2-1).
Rookie Austin Seibert kicked four field goals for the Browns (2-1), who led 9-0 when Baker Mayfield and the rest of Cleveland’s starters left the game.
Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick from the 2018 draft, started and played the entire first half after getting just one series of work in Cleveland’s preseason opener against Washington and sitting out last week’s game at Indianapolis.
Playing without starting receivers Odell Beckham Jr. (hip) and Jarvis Landry, the second-year quarterback led three short field-goal drives and was not particularly sharp while completing 10 of 26 passes for 72 yards and one interception.
Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston had an even tougher night, though it wasn’t all his doing.
Gay missed a 37-yard field goal and Tampa Bay’s leaky offensive line had difficulty protecting Winston, allowing five sacks while the fifth-year pro was in the game.
The No. 1 overall pick from the 2015 draft, who’s closing in on becoming the franchise’s career passing leader yet still trying to prove he’s the club’s long-term answer at quarterback, finished 9 of 19 for 88 yards without an interception.
Winston played seven series after seeing limited action the previous two weeks against Pittsburgh and Miami. Backup Blaine Gabbert started the second half and led the Bucs into field goal range before falling awkwardly at the end of an 8-yard scramble and heading to the locker room with a shoulder injury. Griffin’s TD pass to Leggett gave Tampa Bay a short-lived 10-9 lead late in the third quarter.
Browns: Starting CB Denzel Ward made his preseason debut after missing two games with a minor leg injury. … Coach Freddie Kitchens doesn’t view the third preseason game as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. He’s more concerned with keeping players fresh and healthy for the Sept. 8 opener, so his plan was to determine playing time for regulars on a case-by-case basis.
Buccaneers: WR Mike Evans, ILB Lavonte David, DL Vita Vea, TE Cameron Brate, S Mike Edwards, ILB Devante Bond, OLB Anthony Nelson and OLB Kahzin Daniels did not play. … Backup TE Antony Auclair (calf) left the game in the first half and did not return. … ILB Deone Bucannon (knee) and S Kentrell Brice (shoulder) were injured during the second quarter.
With field goals of 54, 36, 30 and 35 yards, Seibert may have made some headway in the competition for Cleveland’s kicking job. Incumbent Greg Joseph has struggled and Seibert, a fifth-round draft pick out of Oklahoma, had not been consistent before converting all three of his attempts Friday.
Tampa Bay’s kicking situation is unsettled, too, with Gay, a fifth-round draft pick from Utah, competing against incumbent Cairo Santos. Gay kicked a 55-yard field goal against Miami last week, but hasn’t been as accurate on shorter kicks. His 37-yard attempt against the Browns hit the right upright and bounced away.
Browns: Preseason finale at home vs. Detroit next Thursday
Buccaneers: Close the preseason next Thursday at Dallas