This was not the way the Buccaneers wanted to begin the second half of the season.
On a dreary Washington DC afternoon, the Bucs game was just as gloomy and depressing as the weather on both sides of the ball as they dropped a 29-19 decision to the Washington Football Team.
After a good week of practice, it seemed the Bucs could not get untracked offensively. They went three and out on their first possession, and Tom Brady threw an interception on the Buc’s second drive to give the WFT excellent field position.
The defense played well if you look at the stats. The defense sacked Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke five times. They allowed just 320 yards of offense. They stopped the WFT three deep in Buccaneers territory as the WFT had to settle for field goals.
But the defense could not make a big stop or force a turnover when it mattered most. Washington chewed up ten minutes on the clock in the fourth quarter on a touchdown drive that put the game out of reach for the Buccaneers.
Bruce Arians was embarrassed about this performance, and rightly so. “I was hoping I wouldn’t say I was embarrassed again, but that display was very reminiscent of the last one. It’s baffling to me after the week of practice I watched these guys have that we could play that poorly. We’ve got to show up on Sundays. We’re doing a heck of a job on Monday through Friday, but we’re not showing up on Sundays.”
Arians was referring to the 36-27 loss to the Saints two weeks ago.
I don’t know what it is, but there is something about backup quarterbacks and rookie quarterbacks that seem to be able to carve up this defense and make plays when it counts.
Although the Bucs sacked Taylor Heincke five times, the defense had their hands on him on at least three other occasions, and he was able to scramble and make a play. As bad as they have played at times this season, the Buc’s defensive backs managed to get their hands on at least three balls but couldn’t hang on for the interceptions.
Arians lamented that the defense couldn’t seem to close the deal when it comes to getting the quarterback on the ground or securing an interception. “We let him get out too many times (talking about Taylor Heinicke), and we talked about it all week. And I think we dropped three interceptions right in our hands, so you’re not going to beat anybody that way.”
Third-down conversions were also a problem for the defense as they allowed the WFT to convert 11/19, 57.7 percent of third-down conversions, and both of their fourth-down conversions. Meanwhile, the Bucs offense was only able to convert 4/10 third-down conversions.
Lavonte David talked about not being able to get the WFT off the field on third down. “We had an opportunity to get off the field, and we didn’t. We talk about this every week. They came out throwing the ball and making plays, and we didn’t make any plays.”
This was the worst game that we have seen the Bucs play since the 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints last season at Raymond James Stadium. Washington came into the game last in the NFC East, with a 2-6 record, and made the plays needed to get a victory.
Although the Bucs offense was without Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown, there is no excuse for this offensive performance.
Mike Evans summed it up after the game. “We had a really good week of practice. We were prepared, we knew what to do, and we knew what to expect. We didn’t make enough plays today. I tell the guys it’s just one game; it doesn’t define our season. We’ve got to come with it if we want to get where we want to go.”
The good news is the Bucs are still 6-3 and in first place in the division. They still control their destiny.
Sean Murphy-Bunting and Carlton Davis could be activated soon, which will bring some much-needed help to the secondary.
Richard Sherman pulled his calf muscle yesterday during pre-game warmups, and Dee Delaney left the game with a concussion, further depleting the secondary. Vita Vea was hurt on the last play of the game. He was diagnosed with a slight MCL sprain and a bone bruise.
“We’ve got a lot of soul searching to do,” coach Bruce Arians said as preparations begin for next week’s Monday Night affair with the New York Giants.
The Giants are another one of those teams that are not good. This has been a disappointing season for the Giants with a 3-6 record. This will be the perfect game for the Bucs to get untracked and start getting that momentum needed for a strong playoff push.