Buccaneers observations: Tampa Bay adds another to list of painful losses

TAMPA, Fla. — Another Sunday, another painful loss.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers appeared poised to sneak out a needed victory late in the fourth quarter, but the defense coughed up a three-point edge as time expired.

Then Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ fumble to start overtime resulted in a 27-yard scoop and score by Anthony Barr to seal Minnesota’s 19-13 overtime victory at Raymond James Stadium.

For anyone in pewter and red, this result will sting.

"It’s really unfortunate, because we were playing really hard," Seferian-Jenkins said. "They were doing a great job, and I unfortunately fumbled the ball. I’ve got to have better ball security."

Said wide receiver Mike Evans: "We could be 5-2 right now, but we’re not. It’s tough. Hopefully, we’ll come back next week ready to work."

Here are thoughts from the Bucs’ Week 8 loss to the Vikings …

1. It was an ugly ending.

Box score

First, credit the Bucs’ defense for clamping down in the fourth quarter to give their offense a chance. After gaining a 10-0 lead, the Vikings didn’t do much, and that’s proof of improved discipline by Tampa Bay’s defensive personnel.

Also credit the Bucs’ offense for coming alive when it mattered. After not doing much of anything for three and a half quarters, the Bucs put together an impressive nine-play, 71-yard touchdown drive, capped by Mike Glennon’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Seferian-Jenkins. But the Bucs’ defense allowed the Vikings to send it to overtime, and Tampa Bay paid for it when Barr raced to the end zone.

Woulda, shoulda, coulda…

2. That was boring football in the first half.

Penalties, poor offense, overall bad play. It’s hard to describe what that first-half showing from both teams was, but this much is clear: It was not good.

The Bucs and Vikings looked all of a combined 3-10. They totaled 203 yards (Minnesota outgained Tampa Bay 131-72), and Glennon and Teddy Bridgewater missed simple throws. Both teams failed to create momentum until Bridgewater led the Vikings on a late drive that resulted in a 46-yard field goal from Blair Walsh. The Bucs, meanwhile, finished with four first downs in the first half.

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So much for the bye week refreshing the Bucs enough to produce a fast start. This was just more of the same.

3. Trindon Holliday didn’t make a good first impression.

Yes, the Bucs’ return game didn’t do enough with Solomon Patton in the role. But Holliday, signed last Tuesday, didn’t pop enough Sunday for anyone to say, "He’s the answer."

He returned the opening kickoff from deep in the end zone short of the 20-yard line. He muffed a punt late in the second quarter. He was too conservative in calling fair catches.

It’s early in his time with the Bucs, but Holliday showed signs of why he was available to be signed before Week 8.

4. The Bucs missed an opportunity to make Bridgewater sore.

The Vikings entered having allowed 27 sacks, so the opportunity seemed right for the Bucs to rush Bridgewater early and often. However, they finished with just one sack, which should be viewed as a blown chance.

It has been said time and time again: This Tampa-2 defense relies on a strong pass rush. Tampa Bay hasn’t produced a good one consistently enough this year, and it’s largely why the Bucs’ unit ranks among the worst in the NFL. The Vikings’ leaky offensive line was there to be exposed, and the Bucs failed to do so.

Cheerleader Gallery

5. This should be an interesting week for Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin.

Trade chatter has included Jackson and Martin of late, and at this point, why wouldn’t the Bucs deal either before the 4 p.m. deadline Tuesday if they can receive quality return? This season is a wash anyway, so why not build toward the future with draft picks that can make the team better?

Neither played much of a factor Sunday, with Martin finishing with 27 yards on 10 carries and Jackson totaling 13 yards receiving on one catch. Jackson would be a bigger loss, but Martin has shown that he’s not the same player who ran for 1,454 yards as a rookie.

Martin would benefit from a new start elsewhere, because his career has regressed so much since last season. It’s stunning. His ceiling with the Bucs has been reached.

Up next: Next Sunday at the Browns.

You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.