TAMPA — We could convene think tanks and still not come up with what Bucs running back Charles Sims was thinking when he fumbled in the second half Sunday.
But it fit the afternoon perfectly, one lost mind in the middle of a convincing 27-7 loss to the Broncos.
Or maybe two lost minds. It looked as if quarterback Jameis Winston was calling for Sims to lateral.
Zany stuff. Comic relief.
Oh, and bad, brainless football.
Bucs coach Dirk Koetter, utterly sick of giveaways, summarized:
"That was not a smart play on our part."
This will be on the season lowlight reel if this Bucs season keeps trending downward.
Bad football. Dumb football.
There was a lot of that for the Bucs on Sunday. Yes, the Broncos are the defending Super Bowl champions. They were a lot better, just as the Cardinals were a lot better than the Bucs a couple of weeks ago.
The Bucs don't need to be giving anyone help.
They did just that Sunday.
It was third and 1 from the Denver 25 late in the second quarter and, the Bucs trailing 14-7, very much a game despite Winston being two Aqib Talib interceptions into his day. Both led to touchdowns. But now the Bucs were within Roberto Aguayo field-goal range. We think.
That's when minds became lost.
Sims was stuffed as he went up the middle and driven back 4 or 5 yards. Linebacker Von Miller had his tentacles around Sims' ankles. There were Broncos everywhere. Sims suddenly looked to be thinking what you and I would think in the same predicament.
"Wait, I'll just lateral to Jameis."
It looked as if Winston, still in the backfield, was motioning for Sims to lateral.
Just then, Sims was crunched by strong safety T.J. Ward. The ball squirted in the air. Pop goes the football. It came down in the hands of Denver defensive end Billy Winn.
"I just lost it," Sims said. "I thought the play was over."
"I thought the play was over," Winston said.
Good teamwork on that one, guys.
Koetter saw it differently.
I'm voting with Dirk.
Sims' fumble wiped out a chance for three points. It eventually led to a six-point swing just before halftime, courtesy of bad Bucs game management and a Denver field goal just before halftime. 17-7.
I mean, Denver was going to win this game, one way or another. But the Bucs are far too accommodating for a team with no room for error. They keep turning bad moments into bigger moments. They keep disrespecting the football. They gave the ball away three times Sunday and didn't force a turnover.
And there's something else: They can't run the ball.
It has been a problem since the preseason, and Doug Martin being out hasn't helped. It's putting too much pressure on Winston, and he isn't up to it at the moment. The one weakness in the vaunted Denver defense might be the ability to stop the run, but you wouldn't have known it by the Bucs' 2.8-yard average in the game. That's one reason why Tampa Bay amassed 215 yards of total offense
It's also clear Sims is out of place. He's not the show. He's a third-down back. That's where his talents lie. The Bucs need Martin back. Soon. They need another backup runner, too.
And they needed clearer minds Sunday. Sims' goofy moment, and Winston's part in it, will form the laugh track on this season until these Bucs begin winning.
At least, that's what I'm thinking.