Sunday, December 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs at Redskins: 5 things you might have missed

LANDOVER, Md. — With a large early lead and an epic late collapse, there was a lot to follow Sunday in the Bucs' come-from-ahead loss at Washington. Here are five things you might have missed:

1 It was hard to miss all the Bucs' penalties — 16 flags for 142 yards, both the most in Lovie Smith's 11 seasons as a head coach. But two things stood out.

The Redskins got seven first downs on penalties, again the most for any Smith team. In 167 regular-season games as a head coach, his teams had given opponents an average of 1.7 first downs on penalties entering Sunday.

What's worse, the Bucs helped the Redskins when they typically struggle most. Washington had been outscored 36-3 in the third quarter, but it beat the Bucs 14-0 in the third, helped by seven Bucs penalties for 70 yards. The 16 flags included six penalties for unnecessary roughness or roughing the passer, three on DE Will Gholston. "You can't win when you get penalties like that," Gholston said. "You can't play in this defense with penalties."

2 Rough day for special teams. The Bucs most glaringly allowed the Redskins to recover an onside kick despite Washington not collecting the ball on its first touch. But the Bucs' average field position off kickoffs was the 17-yard line — no big returns for Bobby Rainey, and a holding penalty on Major Wright that forced the Bucs to drive 91 yards on one fourth-quarter drive.

Connor Barth went 3-for-3 on field goals — two chip shots — and 3-for-3 on extra points, but otherwise, the Bucs didn't get much of a spark on special teams.

3 More "Yards Don't Equal Wins" evidence: If you were excited about the Bucs ranking fifth in total defense entering the game, you'll be thrilled to see that the offense piled up 479 total yards, fifth most in team history.

Thing is, you don't really want to make the top of that list. Seven of the top eight games for total offense in Bucs history were losses like Sunday's.

One stat that usually translates to winning is running the ball well, and the Bucs ran the ball for 190 yards Sunday; only once in the past 18 years had the Bucs done that and lost. Since November 1997, the Bucs had been 11-1 when rushing for 190 or more, the lone exception an overtime loss at Seattle in 2013.

4 Secondary changes, results don't. Entering Sunday, opposing QBs had a stellar 106.4 passer rating against the Bucs. Only three NFL teams made it easier for opponents. Sunday didn't change that, as Kirk Cousins — who had exactly one passing TD in each of six games coming in — had three, with a 124.7 rating that is his career best in 16 starts.

Tim Jennings got benched — from starter to inactive — and Johnthan Banks came in, but Cousins was still able to move the ball when he needed to.

On the winning drive, he not only went 9-for-11 for 75 yards, but he hit five targets along the way.

5 The Bucs defense didn't show up in the second half. Forget about having no takeaways — how about no defensive stops at all?

Four drives for Washington, all with at least four first downs — resulting in three touchdowns and a field goal, and 254 yards of offense in one half.

That's how a 24-7 halftime lead turns into a loss, and how the Redskins, with more than 1,100 games going back to 1937, never had a comeback as big as the 24-point deficit they erased Sunday.

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