Bucs kick away a shot at upsetting Patriots

by Gary Shelton on October 6, 2017 · 8 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Nick Folk missed three field goals in Bucs' narrow loss./JEFFREY S. KING

Nick Folk missed three field goals in Bucs' narrow loss./JEFFREY S. KING

Friday, 4 a.m.

The futile, forgettable farce of Foot-Fault Folk and his Flock of Failures might have reached its finish on Thursday night.

After this, how can the Bucs persuade themselves to stay with wayward kicker Nick Folk, who just wrapped up the worst week any Buc kicker – yes, including Roberto Aguayo, Kyle Brindza and Mirro Roder – has ever had.

For crying out loud, Folk has now missed five of six field goals — and an extra point — in four days. This, from a guy who was supposed to make you forget

 Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the GarySheltonSports.com blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on GarySheltonSports.com.

Winston threw for 225 yards in the fourth quarter./JEFFREY S. KING

Winston threw for 225 yards in the fourth quarter./JEFFREY S. KING

about the shortcomings — and widecomings — of Aguayo. He missed three Thursday night — two long field goals of 55 and 49 and a point-blank shot of 31 yards — in a 19-14 loss to New England.

Think about that. If Folk hit two field goals, the Bucs – for all of their other flaws — win this game. If he hits only one of his field goals, he has a shot at the winner as time ran out (instead of a wayward pass by Jameis Winston into the end zone).

Instead?

Jackson caught five passes for 106 yards./JEFFREY S. KING

Jackson caught five passes for 106 yards./JEFFREY S. KING

Look for an ad on Craigslist coming soon.

“I left points out there,” Folk said. “We should have won that game 20-19. This one's on me.”

“It's been a bad week from Sunday to now,” said Folk, adding that his job security was “the farthest thing I'm worried about now.”

Koetter said that he and general manager Jason Licht would discuss Folk.

"We'll talk about that," Koetter said. "Jason and I had a brief conversation afterward. That will be something that will be forthcoming. But you don't want to make any rash decisions."

Not many people would disagree. Well, except for Winston, that is.

Overall, mind you, Winston's numbers were keepers. He hit 26 of 46 passes for 334 yards. But of those, 220 yards came in the fourth period as the Bucs tried in vain to win a game against the World Champions with only 14 points. They couldn't. Winston

Martin celebrates a touchdown in his return game./JEFFREY S. KING

Martin celebrates a touchdown in his return game./JEFFREY S. KING

finally found DeSean Jackson for 106 yards, but he missed a deep ball to Jackson. Then, with three seconds to play, Winston's last-gasp pass from the 18-yard line fell incomplete.

“At the end of the game, the quarterback has to make a play,” Winston said. “That's the bottom line. You have to make a play at the end of the game. It was a bad decision on my part. I didn't give anyone a chance. The only thing that can hurt you is throwing the ball where no one can get it. That's what I did there.

“It was a bad decision on my part. I had a tight end (O.J. Howard) wide open. I have to give him a chance."

Is that enough victims for you? Well, tight end Cameron Brate said he was awful, too.

"It wasn't my night tonight," Brate said. "I kind of let the team down. I had some chances to make some plays and usually, I come through, but tonight it didn't work out."

For most of the game, Winston was a witness to the exploits of Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady (Winston called him the best quarterback on earth). For the night, Brady hit 30 of 40 passes for 303 yards. But the Patriots scored only one touchdown (Stephen Gostkowski hit four field goals).

Think about it. The mighty Patriots had the ball for 11 drives. One of those ended in a touchdown. Four ended in field goals. Four ended in punts. Two ended in turnovers.

And they won.

The Bucs' defense — missing Kwon Alexander, Lavonte David, Keith Tandy and T.J. Ward – played well. It sacked Brady three times, intercepted him once and caused him to fumble.

Adam Humprhies with one his three catches for the Bucs./JEFFREY S. KING

Adam Humphries with one his three catches for the Bucs./JEFFREY S. KING

Still, the offense scored 14 points. That won't beat the Patriots often.

“We didn't play complementary football at all,” Bucs' coach Dirk Koetter said. “You win and you lose as a team, but the defense did their fair share to get it done.

The Bucs missed on their first seven third-down chances and converted only 31 percent for the game.

“It takes you a ton out of rhythm,” Koetter said. “I mean, it tires your defense out at the same time. It's frustrating to everyone when your defense is stopping them and they we got three-and-out.”

Bucs' offensive tackle Demar Dotson said there was no mistake the outcome.

“We let it slip away,” he said. “We had this game won. We just left too many points out there.”

The Bucs' defense was led by a pair of rookies. Kendall Beckwith had 14 tackles and safety Justin Evans had nine and an interception.

In hindsight, this is a game the Bucs could have won, even if you think they shouldn't.

Instead, they kicked it away.

“I think as a coach, any player you put out on field field, you should have confidence

Jaquizzz Rodgers carried the ball only three times for the Bucs./JEFFREY S. KING

Jacquizz Rodgers carried the ball only three times for the Bucs./JEFFREY S. KING

in,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “You think that they're going to be able to do the job that you ask them to do. If at some point you don't feel that way then you probably need to put someone else out there.

“I think Dirk does a great job. He's done a great job with this team and I certainly would not second-guess or criticize or comment on any of the decisions he makes. I'm having enough trouble coaching my own team.”

Still, it is obvious. Folk was brought in to replace an awful kicker, and he's been even worse.

So, yeah, the defeat hurts. On the other hand, it was probably the Bucs' most impressive effort of the season. The Bucs are 2-2 overall, which isn't as good as they would like, but it doesn't put them behind so far. Winston hasn't thrown an interception in three of his games. Doug Martin, in his return, had 74 yards on 13 carries (a 5.4 yard average).

Still, this was one that went through their fingers. Or, if you prefer, off of their toes. This would have been a signature win that would have sent ripples throughout the league.

So blame the kicker.

Blame the quarterback.

Blame society.

If you want, blame them all. This one ended wrong.

Will Clarke sacks Brady and forces a fumble./JEFFREY S. KING

Will Clarke sacks Brady and forces a fumble./JEFFREY S. KING

 

Share with:Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill MYERS October 6, 2017 at 9:19 am

This game was supposed to be a high scoring match up! It turned out to be a defensive match up instead. And it came down to the kicking game to win it! No doubt now that some change is in order there. How about an open tryout for the position? Somebody somewhere can kick better than Folk. The Bucs have nine days to find the answer before the Arizona game.

Reply

Gary Shelton October 6, 2017 at 1:53 pm

Right. That gives them 16 days before the next guy fails, too. It keeps happening, doesn’t it?

Reply

Bill MYERS October 6, 2017 at 2:44 pm

Looks like the tryouts are gonna happen soon according to PFT! This is really serious. A championship contender needs 3 things …. a productive offense, a strong defense, and a pretty much automatic kicker. And 2 out of three is not good! So I hope we can find that automatic guy soon!

Reply

Gary Shelton October 6, 2017 at 6:27 pm

Yeah, but it’s rare to find someone available.

Reply

Larry Beller October 6, 2017 at 6:15 am

I blame the NFL for scheduling this game on Thursday night. There has been plenty of sloppy football played on Thursday night and this game was no exception. Winston was great in the 4th quarter aside from that last play, but was not on his game in the first 3 quarters. The Bucs defense gutted out a bend but not break game and all things considered performed quite well. They gave the offense a chance to win it. As for the kicking, well it’s just sickening. I’m blaming Jason Licht for signing 2 putrid kickers. Try outs for a new kicker should start Monday morning.

Reply

Gary Shelton October 6, 2017 at 1:54 pm

Everyone but Roger Goodell hates Thursday night football. Fans, who have to work the next day, hate it. Players hate it. Coaches hate it. The media hates it. I hate it.

Reply

Bill MYERS October 6, 2017 at 2:53 pm

The Thursday night game for the Bucs with no bye week actually works! They get 2 extra days off to rest, heal up, and find a better kicker before the next Sunday game in Arizona.

Reply

Gary Shelton October 6, 2017 at 6:28 pm

Better thanlosing to the Rams, huh?

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: