TAMPA — Here's how bitter-suite the Bucs quarterback drama turned out in Sunday's 13-10 loss to the Cardinals.
While rookie Mike Glennon was busy throwing the game away with two interceptions in the final 3:12 to gift wrap the tying touchdown and spoil his first start, the benched Josh Freeman was getting his just desserts in the air-conditioned suite at Raymond James Stadium reserved for inactive players.
Freeman declined comment as he walked to the parking lot after a brief visit to the locker room following the game, leaving Glennon to explain how the 0-4 Bucs lost their third game in the final 89 seconds.
"It's just an unfortunate way to end the game," said Glennon, who helped build a 10-0 lead that carried into the fourth quarter. "The defense played great the whole game. The offense looked good in the first half. And then at the end, I just can't make that throw."
The game started to unwind with 11:16 left, when Glennon's botched handoff to Doug Martin resulted in a fumble at midfield and, six plays later, Jay Feely's 42-yard field goal.
Then came the interceptions.
With the Bucs leading 10-3 and facing second and 6 at their 11, Glennon's throw on a slant route was behind Vincent Jackson. Cornerback Patrick Peterson took advantage, returning the pick 11 yards to the Bucs 13.
On the next play, Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer tied it with a pass to Larry Fitzgerald, who beat cornerback Darrelle Revis.
The Bucs went three-and-out, including a third-down sack at their 1, on their next possession, the punt giving Arizona the ball at the Tampa Bay 38.
A 19-yard completion and a personal foul on safety Dashon Goldson — his third of the season — set up a 27-yard go-ahead field goal by Feely, a former Jesuit High standout, with 1:29 left.
Four plays later, Glennon tried to hit Jackson under pressure and was picked off again by Peterson with 48 seconds left.
"(Tampa Bay) is a good football team," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "I know they're 0-4, but they found a way to give it back to us."
Until the interceptions, Glennon had played a solid if not spectacular game before an announced crowd of 44,956. He was helped by a defense that pitched a shutout until the fourth quarter. Revis and rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks (in the end zone) had interceptions, and cornerback Leonard Johnson forced a fumble returned to the Cardinals 41 by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
That set up Glennon's first career touchdown, an 8-yarder to Mike Williams, who kept the ball for the third-round pick from N.C. State.
"That was kind of my focus the whole game; just take what the defense is giving me, protect the football, and we felt like we could win the game," said Glennon, who went 24-of-43 for 193 yards. "It wasn't like I was getting greedy with that (first interception) to Jackson. He was open. I just didn't put it exactly where it needed to be."
Last week, Arians said Arizona had an advantage facing a rookie making his first start instead of Freeman, who was benched Wednesday. It stacked the line of scrimmage against running back Doug Martin. And the league's second-leading rusher entering the game had 45 yards on 27 carries. Martin had 11 rushes that gained nothing or went for a loss.
In fact, the Bucs' longest runs were a 22-yarder by Goldson on a fake punt and 14-yard jet sweep by Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps, who also made his NFL debut.
"Some of the plays, we've got to look at what we called. We've got to look at how we blocked," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "Everybody has got to take a hard look and say this didn't work. Why?"
With the Bucs entering their bye week having lost nine of their past 10 dating to last season, Schiano had better find solutions fast. While Glennon spread the ball around better, completing passes to nine receivers, he averaged only 4.48 yards per attempt.
The Bucs also could face the prospect of being without Goldson, whose helmet-to-helmet hit came nearly two weeks after his one-game suspension for one was reduced to a $100,000 fine.
There also is more trouble brewing between the Bucs and Freeman, who has requested a trade. Upon announcing his benching Wednesday, Schiano said Freeman would be the No. 2 quarterback.
But Sunday, Freeman was inactive. (Dan Orlovsky was the No. 2.) And Schiano said it was a "mutual decision" that he watch the game from a suite. However, Freeman's agent, Erik Burkhardt, called Schiano's version a "lie, obviously" in a text message.
"Very tough game," Schiano said. "Tough loss for our guys. We did a lot of things very well. We just did too many things wrong, too many mistakes at the end. Certainly, we're being tested, but we've got to stick together.
"We're all one, and that's the way we'll get through this tough stretch. And it's also the way we'll win and win big here."
Bucs rookie quarterbacks in their first game:
Date Opp. Att. Com. Yds. TD Int. Res.
Mike Glennon Sunday Ariz. 24 43 193 1 2 13-10 L
Josh Freeman Nov. 8, '09 NE 14 31 205 3 1 38-28 W
Bruce Gradkowski Oct. 8, '06 NO 20 31 225 2 0 24-21 L
Shaun King Dec. 6, '99 Min. 11 19 93 2 1 24-17 W
Trent Dilfer Oct. 23, '94 SF 7 23 45 0 1 41-16 L
Vinny Testaverde Dec. 6, '87 NO 22 47 369 2 2 44-34 L
Steve Young Nov. 24, '85 Det. 16 27 167 0 0 19-16 W
Doug Williams * Sept. 2, '78 NYG 1 5 9 0 1 19-13 L
Randy Hedberg Sept. 18, '77 Phi. 10 25 66 0 0 13-3 L
Parnell Dickinson * Oct. 24, '76 Mia. 4 4 51 1 0 23-20 L
* Left game after getting injured