A ref’s slip, a kicker’s slice, and defeat

by Gary Shelton on December 19, 2017 · 6 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Winston had his best game of the season in defeat./JEFFREY S. KING

Winston had his best game of the season in defeat./JEFFREY S. KING

Tuesday, 3 a.m.

For the Tampa Bay Bucs, it isn't simply about the losing.

It's also about the new, inventive,  creative ways in which there are to lose.

Such moments are precious to the 4-10 Bucs, who have dropped games this year by kicking poorly, by rushing poorly, by covering poorly and blocking poorly.

And now, there is this:

The clock was inside of 10 seconds, and the Bucs were trying to pull off a miracle. They trailed the Atlanta

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Howard scores the first Bucs' touchdown of the game./JEFFREY S. KING

Howard scores the first Bucs' touchdown of the game./JEFFREY S. KING

Falcons, 24-21, and Jameis Winston was about to run a play that gave him the option of a play or a spike.

...And the referee who was handling the ball slipped to the ground.

He slipped? Of course he slipped. It makes perfect sense that he

Chris Conte forces Freeman to fumble./JEFFREY S. KING

The Bucs' defense forces Freeman to fumble./JEFFREY S. KING

slipped. In this season, when the linebackers are juked and the rushers are blocked and the ball is thrown up in to the air, he

might as well have been on a banana peel on ice during a strong wind.

In a season gone wrong, it might have been the biggest foot fault imaginable. It cost the Bucs a few seconds before they could snap the ball, and a chance to get closer for a field goal.

The Bucs, who had started their previous play with 25 seconds left, finally spiked the ball with just six seconds to go, not enough to risk a play. And so they brought in Patrick Murray,

Mike Evans scored on a 42-yard touchdown./JEFFREY S. KING

Mike Evans scored on a 42-yard touchdown./JEFFREY S. KING

and they asked him to make a 54-yard field goal. The ball bent to the right late, however, and missed wide.

And just like that, the Bucs lost again.

"The official -- there is nothing he could do about it --  he fell down trying to take the ball out there," coach Dirk Koetter said. "I mean, that cost us four seconds right there. Pat has made 56-yarders in practice pretty much every week.

With more seconds on the clock, the Bucs might have risked

Glanton rushes Matt Ryan of Falcons./JEFFREY S. KING

Glanton rushes Matt Ryan of Falcons./JEFFREY S. KING

another play.

"With nine seconds, you do, but we wouldn't have had nine after the ref fell down," Koetter said. "We have a play where Jameis has the option of clocking it or throwing it and that's the play that was on there."

Oh, there were various ways of shooting themselves in their foot -- which, these days, looks as if it messed with John Wesley Hardin. Mike Evans was called for pushing off ... twice. Peyton Barber fumbled at the four as it looked as if the Bucs were going to score. Once Julio Jones was controlled, the run defense was gashed for 126 yards rushing by Devonta  Freeman and 201 overall.

It all added up to the 10th loss of the year for the Bucs, the most the team has lost since, well, the year before last.

Perhaps the biggest positive for the Bucs was the play of

Koetter saw his team lose yet again./JEFFREY S. KING

Koetter saw his team lose yet again./JEFFREY S. KING

quarterback Jameis Winston, who had one of the best days of his career. Winston hit 27 of 35 passes for 299 yards, His 130.5 ranking was the second highest of his career, and his 77.1 completion percentage was the highest since Mike Glennon hit 87 percent against Atlanta in 2013.

The Bucs also had to deal with injury. They entered the game without Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David and Doug Martin -- held out for violation of a team rule. During the game, they lost J.R. Sweezy, DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard to injury. During the game, the Bucs lost another half dozen players.

Then, there was the kick at the end, which left both Winston and Patrick Murray in foul moods.

"(Bleep) them," said Winston, referring to the writers waiting.

The Bucs, and Ryan Smith, did a nice job on Julio Jones./JEFFREY S. KING

The Bucs, and Ryan Smith, did a nice job on Julio Jones./JEFFREY S. KING

"I thought it was a good kick," Murray said. "It didn't go in. I am disappointed that I let my teammates down. I make those kicks all the time. I've got to make it."

Murray said the distance didn't matter.

"I don't think I've ever been part of a game like that, " Cameron Brate said. "It seemed like every couple of plays, we lost a guy."

For the Bucs, it was the fourth straight loss of the season and ninth in 11 games.

"We were resilient," Winston said. "We have some winners in here. We just have to find a way, we have to keep persevering. That's the beautiful thing about life. You can't give up. No one wants to give up."

The Bucs have now lost five games by a touchdown or less. They have lost three times by three points.

Tampa Bay is at Carolina Sunday before finishing the season at home against New Orleans.

Humphries makes a catch for Bucs./JEFFREY S. KING

Humphries makes a catch for Bucs./JEFFREY S. KING

 

 

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill MYERS December 19, 2017 at 9:01 am

It was a winnable game all the way through! Surprise!! The Bucs held their own even with all the injuries! We were never more than 2 scores away! Again the clock was the enemy! The Bucs almost won another one. Five close games with three real close! I guess you could say the Bucs almost had a winning season!

Reply

Gary Shelton December 19, 2017 at 9:33 am

Could you? Lol.

Reply

Larry Beller December 19, 2017 at 6:41 am

When things go bad they seem to go bad all the time. That’s what is happening to the Bucs this year. The Bucs played with passion and energy for the entire game. But luck was not on their side. It has to be said that if they played the entire season with the same passion and energy as they did last night on MNF, their record would be much better,

Reply

Gary Shelton December 19, 2017 at 10:05 pm

I agree. Of course, if the defense was better …

Reply

Rick Martin December 19, 2017 at 6:20 am

That the Bucs JV team (backups) fought to the end and kept them competitive shows that Koetter needs another season….

Reply

Gary Shelton December 19, 2017 at 10:06 pm

If you back up bad players, aren’t they the JV? Wouldn’t that make you the JJV?

Reply

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