Sloppy play and turnovers prove costly as the Buccaneers drop to 4-9 on the season. Loss also officially eliminates Tampa from playoff contention.
The Bucs returned home to Raymond James Stadium for the first time in nearly a month. Things did not go as they planned. Tampa and Detroit traded three-and-outs on their first drives.
Matthew Stafford was able to easily move the ball down the field on the Lions second drive of the game. He showed no side effects of the hand injury he suffered last week. On the drive Stafford was five-of-five for 72 yards. The Bucs defense allowed two plays of 20 plus yards on this drive. Theo Riddick was able to cap off the drive with a two yard touchdown run.
Tampa was able to answer right back however on their next series. Jameis Winston led an 11-play, 75-yard drive of his own. Mike Evans was Winston’s favorite target on this drive catching multiple passes, resulting in 10 plus yards each. Doug Martin was able to get into the endzone for the game tying score.
Then the turnovers started.
Lavonte David was able to force a fumble of Eric Ebron. David now has five forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries on the season.
This should have been a momentum builder for the Bucs. It did not turn out that way. On the second play of the drive OJ Howard coughed up the football to put an end to that drive. Tampa forced Detroit to punt on their next possession. Winston was looking to connect on a deep ball with DeSean Jackson when Darius Slay stepped in front and made a sliding interception. Drive over.
Stafford was on fire early in the game. He started 13-for-13. On the ensuing drive off the turnover, Stafford was able to find Marvin Jones, Jr. for a 38 yard pickup. On the very next play Golden Tate was able to get in on the fun and put Detroit ahead on his five yard TD catch.
Early in the second quarter is was announced that Gerald McCoy, the Bucs defensive leader was out for the game. McCoy suffered what was described as a shoulder/biceps injury. You could tell by the look on McCoy’s face on the sidelines that it was not good. McCoy had torn both of his biceps before costing him time in his first two seasons.
After Detroit went up 14-7, Tampa turned the ball over again on their next drive. This time it was Doug Martin. After the Martin fumble he did not receive another carry for the remainder of the game. Peyton Barber took over and was productive. Barber finished with 12 carries for 58 yards.
This was the third straight possession the Bucs had turned the football over.
The turnovers didn’t stop there. On the Lions very next drive, Stafford was intercepted on a nice leaping grab by Brent Grimes. Tampa was not able to do anything with the ball and was forced to punt.
Stafford again threw another interception late in the first half, possibly costing his team points this time. Detroit was deep in Bucs territory when Robert McClain was able to pick off Stafford’s pass putting an end to what looked to be a promising drive for the Lions.
When we got to halftime both teams had turned the ball over three times.
On the Bucs first possession of the second half, Winston over-threw O.J. Howard for his second interception of the day. It looked as if Howard may have been held on the play, but even if he was it didn’t look like he was going to make that catch anyhow. That was just a bad decision by Jameis.
Tampa was able to force a punt on Detroit’s drive, but again on their next possession Winston fumbled the ball away. Things were getting ugly fast. Detroit was able to capitalize off the turnover when Riddick scored his second touchdown of the day. On Riddick’s TD run it looked like every Buccaneer defender was trying to strip the ball away rather than making the tackle. This one put the Lions up 21-7.
The Bucs were able to cut into the lead on their next possession when Winston found O.J. Howard for his fifth touchdown of the season. Tampa trailed 21-14 at this point. Tampa looked to be building a little momentum. They forced the Lions to punt on their next possession.
Winston then drove the Bucs down field and found offensive lineman Leonard Wester for the two yard touchdown. We had a ball game at this point. Bucs fight their way back to tie it at 21.
Neither Detroit nor Tampa were able to do anything with their next possessions. Detroit had the ball for the last time with just under three minutes remaining in the game. This was all the time they needed. Stafford was able to drive Detroit down the field and setup the Lions for a possible game winning field goal. Matt Prater came on and nailed the 46 yarder putting the Lions up for good 24-21.
The Bucs (4-9) will face the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football on December 18th. This will also be the game that Jon Gruden will be inducted to the Ring of Honor.
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