Bucs kick one away in a collapse against Giants

by Gary Shelton on September 23, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Gay had a difficult day for the Bucs./© Joe Mestas

Monday, 4 a.m.

You might not want to admit, but you have seen it before. You might not want to acknowledge it, but you have felt this depth of emptiness before. You might not allow yourself to remember other Bucs' collapses, but you have felt them eat at you through the nights.

This is what following the Tampa Bay Bucs is like.

Great numbers. Mounting hope. False hope.

And oops.

The Bucs let an easy one slip away Sunday afternoon, absorbing a 32-31 loss to a New York Giants team thad had benched their quarterback and lost their best player to an injury. They blew an 18-point lead, and they botched a point-blank field goal, and they wound up on the short end of the scoreboard because, well, that's what the Bucs do.

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Winston threw for 380 yards in the defeat.:© Joe Mestas

Tampa Bay fell to 1-2 0n the season, and now is away from Raymond James Stadium until Nov. 10. Who knows what will remain of them by then?

“It’s going to be a hard pill to swallow, obviously, but games like this you’ve got to have, especially at home," said linebacker Lavonte David. "We want to be dominant at home and (we) lost our first two home games, that’s sickening. We’ll be on the road and we don’t come home until (November). So, this one we’ve got to learn from and just chalk it up for what it is, and give the other team their credit, learn from it and get back ready for the week and get ready for the L.A. Rams.”

Mike Evans caught eight passes for 190 yards./© Joe Mestas

It was a baffling loss, one that was shared by each unit.

The offense, which moved the ball well all day behind Jameis Winston's rating of 112.4 and Mike Evans' 190 receiving yards, scored only three points after halftime.

The defense, on the other hand, gave up 21 points, including a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the game. They made rookie quarterback Daniel Jones look like Joe Montana, hitting 23 of 36 for 336 yards.

The special teams left victory on the field. Matt Gay missed a last-second, 34-yard field goal, an extra point and had an extra point blocked. Gay's attempt actually should have been from the 29, where the bending kick might have been good, but coach Bruce Arians

Mike Edwards and the Bucs stopped Barkley before his injury./© Joe Mestas

had an intentional delay of game penalty.

The Bucs were only 1-of-5 in the red zone. They were four-of-14 on third downs.

And they lost.

Because they're the Bucs.

"We need to play a 60-minute game," said tight end O.J. Howard. "We played a 30-minute game."

Remember the collapse against the Colts? The one against the Redskins?  The one against the Rams? Remember the NFC. title game loss to the Rams?  Remember bad quarterbacks and wrong calls and lost leads? This was right up there with any of them.

The Bucs lost despite gaining 499 yards. They lost despite Mike Evans' 190 yards and three touchdowns. They lost despite 380 yards passing by Winston. They lost despite four sacks by Shaq Barrett (seven the last two games). They lost despite 80 yards by Ronald Jones III. They lost to a bad Giants team in their own stadium.

Wow.

Perriman had a big run early./© Joe Mestas

"I believe that we need to win games like that," Winston said. "I just think we have a good enough team, and I think we have good enough guys. We just need to win games like that.” 

So does anyone else think they owe Ronde Barber an apology for losing a game like this on the day he joined the Ring of Honor?

Start with the culprits. Start with kicker Matt Gay, who had an Aguayo-type day. He becomes the latest wobbly kicker on a franchise filled with them.

"I was super confident going on the field," Gay said. "I felt really good about it. I got back there, had my line, and just didn't hit it clean. I've got to make that every single time. I've got to make my extra points as well -- we're not in that situation if put those first two through. This loss is 100 percent on me. I've got to be a lot better than tonight."

Kevin Minter makes a big stop for the Bucs./© Joe Mestas

The pain there is that Winston drove his team downfield to put them in a position to win. He hit Chris Godwin for 20 and Mike Evans for 44 to get the Bucs close. Arians said he didn't think about trying a pass into the end zone.

"Those are the ones that hurt the most. You have a lead and you give up . That's why it's scheduled for 60 minutes. All three phases have to click, and we missed the field goal to win the game."

Arians blamed the inability of the Bucs to score when they were close.
"The glaring stat in the game was 1-for-five in the red zone. Those touchdowns would have put it out of reach."

Barber had 48 yrds rushing./© Joe Mestas

Through the years, other coaches have talked about their teams not being able to pull away, or to catch up, or to stop someone when it mattered. Arians didn't sound much different after this one.

"I took (the final delay of game penalty) on purpose," Arians said. "That field goal is easier back five yards, no sense hurrying. We wanted to move the ball over, put it in the middle and make it an easy field goal."

But no field goal seems to be easy enough when you're a Bucs' kicker. You imagine scattered kickers watching on scattered sets as Gay blotched his.

"We know he's going to come back and hit game-winners in the future, so we have to do more as an offense not to put him in that position," said Jones.

Gay said he had recovered from the blown extra points by that time, however.

"I felt really good," he said. "Just making sure that I keep my head up. I've got to put it behind him going forward. It's not going to help to look back on this one. It doesn't take away form the face that I've got to make that field goal."

Said Winston: “I told him keep grinding — keep digging in. We’ve all got to do our part. We shouldn’t have put him in that situation and he’s going to have another chance and he’s going to make more game-winning field goals than that.” 

Said Evans: "I mean nobody feels as bad as Matt does right now. I mean he’s a really good kicker with a really strong leg. It’s football — those things happen. It’s happened to every kicker in their career at least once, so we’re not upset with him by any means. The offense has to do more. We had an 18-point lead. We have to score more. We had our way in the first half, but you’ve got to play the second half.”

On the plus side, Arians had good words for Barrett, who has eight sacks on the season.

"He’s just wearing out left tackles," Arians said. "It’s nice to be able to have confidence in that four-man rush to be able to play coverage and not have to blitz.”

Overall, Winston had a good day despite throwing an interception. Only three times has he had back-to-back ratings of more than 100.

The Bucs play at the Rams on Sunday.

David knows Daniel Jones out of bounds/:© Joe Mestas

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