The Buccaneers took the field at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday afternoon for the first time this season, falling to the Los Angeles Rams 37-32. Here, we have immediate observations and reactions from Tampa Bay’s second straight loss.
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The Buccaneers had a big opportunity on Sunday to come away with a win in their home opener against a reeling Rams team. After leading 20-10 early, they fell behind 31-20 before getting within 37-32. A lightning delay with two minutes to go halted play, and when play resumed, the Bucs had a shot. The defense came up with a third down stop and the offense marched down to the Los Angeles 15. But, time ran out before the Bucs could get into the end zone, dropping their record to 1-2.
-Tampa Bay got off to a slow start in the first quarter, giving up a touchdown to open the game before going three-and-out on offense.
-Discipline was an issue on Sunday, with the team being flagged seven times for 65 yards. Being called for penalties in key situations was costly all day.
-Head coach Dirk Koetter hasn’t done a lot wrong so far, but he badly mismanaged the clock in the final minute on Sunday. He had two timeouts left when the drive started and used just one of them, and that was with the clock already stopped.
-The Bucs still don’t know how to win games. They had plenty of chances to swing momentum in their favor, but didn’t cash in on any of them. They made too many mistakes in key moments, which allowed a very beatable Rams team to leave with the win.
Observations and Reactions- Offense
–Jameis Winston had a big first half, completing 11 of his 16 attempts for 130 yards and a touchdown. He did throw an interception, but it came on a pass that went off the hands of Charles Sims.
-Winston and the offense got off to a slow start in the second half, but came around in the fourth quarter. He finished the day 36-for-58 for 405 yards and three touchdowns.
-Sims couldn’t get anything going early. He rushed six times for six yards in the first half, but did score a touchdown from a yard out. He turned it on in the second half to finish the day with 55 yards rushing on 13 carries and 69 receiving yards on six catches.
–Mike Evans was huge again on Sunday, catching 10 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. The connection between him and Winston will be a fun one to watch for years to come.
–Adam Humphries came up big again this week, hauling in nine passes for 100 yards. His emergence has made up for the invisibility of Vincent Jackson.
-The Tampa Bay offensive line struggled to keep the Rams’ strong defensive line out of the backfield. One of the breakdowns led to a strip sack fumble that Ethan Westbrooks returned all the way for a touchdown.
Observations and Reactions- Defense
-The Tampa Bay defense finally came up with some turnovers on Sunday. Kwon Alexander got the Bucs on the board in the first quarter with a 38-yard pick six. In the second quarter, Lavonte David forced a fumble that Chris Conte recovered. Tampa Bay came up with 13 points off of turnovers.
-After finishing with no tackles last week, David had a big game. He finished with eight tackles (seven solo), a sack and a forced fumble.
-Conte totaled eight tackles (six solo), while Alexander picked up seven tackles (six solo), including a tackle for loss.
–Alterraun Verner was burnt badly on the game’s opening drive, giving up a 44-yard touchdown. He got no help from his safeties, but it was still a bad look for him after some nice plays last week. In the fourth quarter, he was called for pass interference as the Rams faced 3rd & 17. The automatic first down gave Los Angeles new life that eventually was converted into another touchdown.
–Keith Tandy gave up the late touchdown, getting beaten badly for a 43-yard score.
Observations and Reactions- Special Teams
–Roberto Aguayo had another bad day, missing an extra point and a 41-yard field goal. Leaving four points out on the field just can’t happen, especially in close games like this one. The argument can be made that if he would’ve made all of his kicks, the Bucs would’ve won 38-37.
–Bryan Anger continued his solid start to the season. He punted four times for an average of 47.8 yards.
There are so many positives to take away from the Bucs’ offense in this game. But, this has happened before. On Sunday, Tampa Bay continued to be the team that falls short in winnable games. There were a lot of moments that could’ve changed the outcome of this game, but it just seemed like none of those moments went Tampa Bay’s way. Winston, Evans, Humphries and Brate all looked very promising. The defense and Aguayo? Not so much. The Bucs needed to win this game. Now, they will have to steal one against some tough competition if they don’t want to be 1-4 when the bye week rolls around.
Tampa Bay will host the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos (3-0) next Sunday at 4:05.