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Bucs squander dominant effort in overtime loss to Packers

Heading into their first overtime period under the NFL’s new extra time format, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers statistically dominated the Green Bay Packers. They out-gained the Green Bay 395-276. The Bucs held a big edge in time of possession. At one point, they had 22 first downs to the Packers’ eight. 

Despite all of this, the Bucs found another way to lose a football game in gut-wrenching fashion. And as a result, the 2017 continues to spiral into a lost cause.

On his only carry of the game, Packers running back Aaron Jones ripped off a 20-yard TD just over four minutes into overtime, giving Green Bay (6-6) a 26-20 win over the Bucs (4-8) at Lambeau Field. The Packers are still in the hunt for a wild card spot in the NFC while Tampa Bay continues to flounder in last place in the NFC South.

Making his first start since Week 9, Bucs QB Jameis Winston displayed much of what both delights and frustrates fans.

After missing three weeks due to a shoulder injury, Winston returned and finished 21-of-32 for 270 yards, a pair of TD’s and no interceptions, taking what the defense gave him. However, he also committed a fumble that was returned 62 yards for a TD. Winston also nearly lost another fumble deep in Green Bay territory. On the opening drive of the game, he led the Bucs 75 yards in 10 plays, finishing it off with a 28-yard TD pass to TE Cameron Brate.

Green Bay then took over and drove the ball 61 yards in 14 plays before settling for a 37-yard field goal that cut the Bucs’ lead to 7-3 late in the first quarter. The Packers used a lot of short passes by QB Brett Hundley and the power running of RB Jamal Williams to move the ball.

Two sequences in the second quarter shifted momentum back into the Packers’ favor.

After both teams’ offenses traded unsuccessful drives, Hundley went deep to WR Jordy Nelson looking for the big play. Bucs safety Justin Evans came up with the interception, but during the return, Kwon Alexander was called for a block in the back. Tampa Bay’s offense proceeded to go three and out. As Bucs punter Bryan Anger was about to punt the ball away, Green Bay’s Kyler Fackrell came flying up the middle untouched and blocked it, giving the Packers the ball at Tampa Bay’s 45-yard line.

It took Green Bay just five plays to go up 10-7, as Williams punched it into the end zone from a yard out. Williams finished the day with 113 yards rushing on 21 carries.

On the ensuing possession, the Bucs drove the field, appearing positioned to get points. However, during a pass attempt, Winston was under pressure. He got grabbed and it looked like a sure sack. Rather than tuck the ball and take the sack, Winston tried to get rid of it. Unfortunately for him, his arm hit lineman Caleb Benenoch. The fumble was picked up by Dean Lowry, who rumbled 62 yards for a TD, putting Green Bay up 17-7. Fortunately for Tampa Bay, they would get the ball back again just before halftime and cut Green Bay’s lead to 17-10 thanks to a 36-yard field goal by Patrick Murray.

 

While the third quarter saw no points scored by either team, the Bucs’ running game asserted itself.

Most notably, it was RB Peyton Barber leading the way. Tampa Bay out-gained Green Bay on the ground 92-4 in the third quarter. Barber finished the day with 103 yards on 23 carries and 41 yards on four catches. He led the Bucs in both rushing and receiving yards. The defense also got off the field on four out of five third downs over the course of the second and third quarters. Defensive end Will Clark paced the way for the Bucs’ defense with a pair of sacks.

Following another field goal that cut Green Bay’s lead to 17-13, the defense came up with another stop, setting the stage for Winston and the offense.

The Bucs drove 78 yards in 12 plays for the go-ahead TD, but there were some adventures in the Packers’ red zone. On first and goal at the 3-yard line, Winston fumbled a handoff, but was able to recover. On the next play, he was flushed out of the pocket and had room to scramble. Unfortunately for him, he was called for an illegal forward pass. This came on a play when he threw a TD pass after crossing the line of scrimmage. However, he made up for those mistakes when he found Brate for his second TD of the day. The Bucs owned a 20-17 lead with 6:02 remaining.

After a long drive stalled out at the Bucs’ 5-yard line, the Packers kicked a short field goal, tying it up 20-20. Tampa Bay had a chance to take the lead with all three timeouts left. However, a block in the back penalty on Evan Smith on a screen pass cost the Bucs 10 yards. A sack of Winston led to the Bucs punting the ball. The Packers finished the game with seven sacks.

Green Bay had one more chance to end it, but their offense stalled out and this game went to overtime.

Green Bay won the toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff in overtime. They never gave the ball back.

Taking over at their own 28, Hundley began to take over by using his legs to pick up a pair of first downs. He finished 13-of-22 through the air for 84 yards and an interception, but added 66 yards on 7 carries. Williams also got into the mix as well. He took a pass from Hundley and powered 12 yards down to Tampa Bay’s 20. This came on the heels of a 9-yard run by Williams. Giving Williams a break, Aaron Jones entered the game. He made his only carry count, too, dashing 20 yards into the end zone for the winning TD. For as well as the Bucs’ defense played for much of the game, they failed to make a stop when it mattered most.

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