4 Turnovers Doom The Buccaneers In Loss To The Bengals

The Buccaneers looked like they could win another Super Bowl in the first half, but in the second half Tom Brady turned the ball over four times as the Bengals scored 34 unanswered points in come from behind 34-23 win at Raymond james Stadium. 

The game could not have started any better for the Buccaneers as they played their best half of football in the first half building a 17-3 lead. 

The play calling was the best I have seen all season as the Bucs used lots of motion and got Mike Evans involved in the offense early helping to the halftime lead. 

The defense had their best half of football as they smothered the Cincinnati offense allowing less than 100 yards of offense. 

In the second half it was the turnovers that cost the Bucs this game. Playing his worst game since coming to Tampa, Brady turned the ball over four times in eleven plays as the Bengals came roaring back to take the lead. 

Here is how the first five drives for the Buccaneers played out in the second half. 

-A botched fake punt, and the Bucs turned the ball over at their own 16 yard line. 

-Tom Brady intercepted at his own 31

-Tom Brady fumbles at his own 13 yard line. 

-Tom Brady fumbles at his own 44 yard line. 

-Tom Brady intercepted at his own 44 yard line. 

These five turnovers set up the Bengals on a short field and were they able to kick a field goal and score three touchdowns taking a 27-17 lead that they would never relinquish. 

The defense played well, allowing Cincinnati’s high-powered offense just 237 yards. But when you turn the ball over on five consecutive possessions, giving the opponent a short to field to work with, it is is very hard for any team to overcome that. 

The defense held Jamar Chase to seven catches for 60 yards, and Joe Mixon to 21 yards on the ground.

The Buccaneers decided to run a fake punt on fourth and one at their own 15 yard line. Running back Gio Bernard was in on the fake punt and it looked as if he was surprised when the ball was snapped. Bernard mishandled the snap giving the Bengals the ball at the Buccaneers 15 yard line.

Todd Bowles put the blame for the botched punt solely on the shoulders of Gio Bernard. “He missed the ball,” Bowles said. “We needed one yard, we had it, we practiced it all week, we just didn’t handle the football. It was fourth-and-one. They had a front that we could take advantage of, it was blocked well, we could have run for four or five yards, we missed the ball.”

Bernard tried to escape the locker room after the game, but eventually talked to the media and accepted the blame for the botched fake punt. 

Tom Brady talked about the good first half of football the Bucs put together and what they need to going forward. “I think we have the ability to play good; I don’t think that we lack confidence in playing good. It’s just consistency, and two good quarters doesn’t win you any football games. Five turnovers doesn’t win you any football games.”

The Buccaneers are now 6-8 and as shocking as it may seem still have a one game lead in the NFC South. If the season were to end today, the Buccaneers would play the Dallas Cowboys at home in the first round of the NFL playoffs. 

The Bucs have three games left on the schedule. Christmas Night in the desert against the Arizona Cardinals, and then two division opponents, Carolina at home, and Atlanta on the road. 

Todd Bowles admitted that this team is playing nowhere near the level it needs to play at to make a  deep playoff run. “We work at it every week,” Bowles said. “In football, all you can do is fight. You can fight, you can play smarter, you can coach smarter and we’ve got to keep fighting. We understand what we’re doing is not good enough by far, it’s not even close to good enough, and we’ve got three games left to try to save our season.”

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