Bucs embarrassed in playoff loss to Dallas

by Gary Shelton on January 17, 2023

in general

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

To sum it up, they were awful.

They were pathetic, miserable, rotten. They were an 8-10 team that was lucky to win that many. They were an underachieving, overhyped roster who fluked their way into the post-season. There were lousy, terrible and embarrassing.

And they are done.

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The Tampa Bay Bucs finished the most disappointing season in franchise history Monday night, losing 31-14 to a Dallas team that had been floundering for awhile. It was a loss that exposed the Bucs for what they were this season...underwhelming. They won eight games — half of them desperate fourth-quarter comebacks over other bad teams.

Monday night, the defense was horrid. The running game was abysmal. Even the star quarterback was less than ordinary. And none of it should have surprized anyone.

"We couldn’t make enough plays," Brady said. "It was kind of typical of the way we played all year. We were inefficient in the passing gums, not very good in the running game. It's hard to beat good teams like that."

Disappointing? Yes, the Bucs' franchise knows about disappointment. But most of the horrible seasons in their history came with lousy expectations; often, no one expected anything of those teams. This team was expected to cut through the regular season and go deep in the post-season.

"Not good enough," Bucs' coach Todd Bowles said. "It’s not where we want to be. We’ve been short two years in a row."

On Monday night, the Bucs, a team that acted as if it had a shot at an upset coming in -- after all, they were at home, and they had Tom Brady -- were clobbered. They demonstrated convincingly that they had no business in any season's post-season. Only the squalid state of the NFC South got them here.

-- They turned Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott into a star once again. Prescott, who had had interception problems throughout the regular season, threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns.

-- They had a chance to make it a game early, trailing 6-0 when the Bucs moved the ball to the Dallas five on a 70-yard drive. But on second down, Brady threw a wobbly interception in the end zone. The Bucs never challenged again. For the night, Brady threw it 66 times and gained 351 yards, but his 72.2 rating was 25 points below his career average.

It was so lopsided that Bucs' fans could spend much of the second half wondering about the future. Does Brady come back? Is there a new offensive coordinator? How do they reconstruct the offensive line? What about Leonard Fournette? Can they improve the secondary?

Asof now, all of those questions matter. The season is dead.

It won't be remembered for very long.

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