Monday, January 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Instant analysis: Bucs squander opportunity to get a big victory against a good team

TAMPA — This one hurts.

It was there for the Bucs. There for the taking and they let it get away.

It could have been a victory against a good team — the now 6-2 Raiders. It could have been their first home victory of the season. It could have put Tampa Bay over .500 at 4-3 with the next game coming up fast Thursday night against division rival and first-place Atlanta.

Instead, they are 3-4 because of a gut-punch, 30-24 loss. Here are some quick, random thoughts from the game that got away.

• Not a great day for Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that he's still just in his second season and that there still are going to be growing pains. But he has simply got to be better than this. The Bucs ran the ball well enough that it should have opened up the passing game. And the Raiders don't have a good defense. When the Bucs got the ball with 1:30 left in the fourth quarter and a chance to move down the field for a winning drive, Winston couldn't even lead the team to a first down. When the Bucs got the ball on their first possession in overtime, Winston couldn't even lead the team to a first down. When the Bucs got the ball for a second possession in overtime, Winston couldn't even lead the team to a first down.

• The Raiders might be the most undisciplined team in football. On the drive that gave the Bucs the lead with just under four minutes in the fourth quarter, Tampa Bay picked up FOUR first downs because of Oakland penalties. And three came on third down, including two penalties for having 12 men on the field and another for a stupid, unnecessary and dirty late hit by safety Karl Joseph on receiver Russell Shepard. By the way, runner-up for most undisciplined team? Bucs. After all, it was a holding penalty on Tampa Bay's Jude Adjei-Barimah that kept Oakland's game-tying drive alive late in the fourth quarter.

• Your kicker can't miss extra points. Just can't. That's what costs you football games. Roberto Aguayo missed another kick Sunday and it came at a bad time. (Is there ever a good time to miss an automatic point?) On the first play of the fourth quarter and the Bucs trailing 17-10, Jameis Winston hit Cameron Brate for a 5-yard touchdown that should have tied the score. Instead, Aguayo missed the extra point. Not only did it keep the Bucs from tying the game, but it was an emotional gut-punch. Right now , Aguayo's head seems so scrambled that the Bucs might not have any choice but to bring in another kicker. Aguayo might turn into one of the best kickers in NFL history, but it doesn't feel like it's ever going to be here in Tampa Bay.

• For a moment, I wrote how Bucs first-round pick Vernon Hargreaves was having a nice day. Then he got burned by Michael Crabtree for the big gainer on Oakland's first drive in overtime.

• Other than a sack-fumble, the Bucs had no pressure all day on Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. That's a sure recipe to have one of the brightest up-and-coming quarterbacks in the NFL carve you up. Maybe that's why he threw for more than 400 yards.

• No Doug Martin again. And no question that the Bucs will welcome him back when he is ready to return. He was and is the team's best back and, arguably, it's most important offense player, even more than Jameis Winston at times. Having said all that, Jacquizz Rodgers continues to fill in admirably. Strange that the Bucs got away from using him during a good stretch in the second quarter, but the Bucs offense does seem to hum when the Bucs turn the game into a Quiz Show.

• A horrible call by the officials led directly to an Oakland touchdown early in the third quarter. Jumping for what was essentially a jump ball, Bucs cornerback Brent Grimes collided with a Raiders receiver and was called for pass interference in the end zone. Simply put: it was not pass interference and should have been let go. Instead, the Raiders were set up with first and goal from the 1. On the next play, tackle Donald Penn — remember him? — caught a 1-yard pass from Derek Carr and the Raiders tied the game at 10.

• Strange play calls by Tampa Bay on its first offensive possession of the second half. No runs. Three straight pass plays. Two of them bombs. Both badly overthrown by Jameis Winston. It felt like a pickup game in the sandlot where you huddle up and tell your buddies, "Just go long and I'll throw it to you." Except Jameis didn't throw it to anyone.

• No pressure equals big problems. The Bucs defense gave Raiders quarterback Derek Carr little to worry about Sunday. He had all day to stand in the pocket and pick the Bucs apart.

• Bright spot: Bucs punter Bryan Anger. He might have been the team's best and most consistent player for much of the afternoon. When your punter is your star of the day, you've had a bad day.

• Just wondering: Does any team in football have a more lethal wide receiver combination than Oakland's Michael Crabtee and Amari Cooper? Man, those dudes are good.

• The Bucs found themselves a heck of a slot receiver in Adam Humphries. All he does is make big catches and run like heck after he catches them.

• Can you trust a Florida State kicker?

 
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