Coming into this week’s game against the Panthers the Buccaneers defense looked to be the problem.
This was the Buccaneers’ first divisional game of the season and it did not go as planned. The past couple weeks have not been kind to Tampa on the defensive side of the ball. In their last two games the Bucs had allowed a total of 68 points.
Today, they only allowed 17 and still lost the game.
They finally got Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David back on the field at the same time, so that could have been the boost the defense was looking for.
The offense was the issue today.
The Bucs just couldn’t sustain any momentum. The most consistent aspect of the Tampa offense was, once again, Doug Martin. Martin had a game high 18 carries for 71 yards.
Part of the blame falls on Jameis Winston.
Winston is in his third season now and he continues to make some costly mistakes. He turned the ball over three times today (two interceptions and one lost fumble) after turning it over twice last week against the Bills. The most costly of his turnovers was, quite possibly, his second interception. This led to what was essentially Cam Newton’s game sealing touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin. Newton finished the game completing 18 of 32 passes for 154 yards, one interception and the one touchdown.
Winston finished the day 21-of-28 for 210 yards and two interceptions.
As good as the Bucs’ defense played they are having issues getting after the quarterback. The Buccaneers did not sack Cam Newton one time today. By comparison, Julius Peppers, who, by the way is 37 years old, had one sack today.
This brought his season total to 7.5, which is more than the Bucs have total as team on the season. Tampa has got to find a way to get pressure on and bring down the opposing quarterbacks.
Today’s loss is a big blow. Not only did they lose to a division foe, but all the other teams in the NFC South won this afternoon. Tampa is now three full games back of the Saints, who defeated the Chicago Bears.
The Buccaneers (2-5) are back on the road and head to New Orleans to take on the red-hot Saints (5-2). Tampa is winless this year on the road and have lost their last five road games, dating back to last season. You don’t want to think of a game as a must-win only half way through the season, but this is about as critical as it gets for the Bucs. The game takes place next Sunday at 1pm EST.
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