TAMPA -- The Bucs have struggled to score points in general this season, ranking next-to-last in the NFL, but Tampa Bay has had another level of troubles in the second half, where the offense has six total points in 27 second-half possessions.
The Bucs' total yardage is nearly identical between the halves this season -- 727 yards before halftime, 723 after -- but the Bucs have spent very limited time in striking distance in the second half. Of 162 total offensive plays, just eight have come in the red zone (inside the opposing 20) and none of those have gained yardage.
Tampa Bay actually has more second-half scoring from its defense -- seven points from Mason Foster's 85-yard interception return against New Orleans -- than it does from its offense. Asked about the significant dropoff in scoring production after halftime, when coaches on both sides can make schematic adjustments to what they've seen in the opening half, coach Greg Schiano cited fumbles and interceptions across midfield.
"Up until yesterday, we hadn't scored a lot of points, period," Schiano said. "In the second half, costly turnovers on the plus side of the field. In the (Arizona) game, we put the ball on the ground at midfield, right after the fake punt. This week, we're driving the ball the length of the field, we're on the plus side and we throw the interception. Those are the tough plays. You can't turn the ball over. When you get in scoring position, you've got to score. When you get on the plus side of the field, really, you get that chance."
That only answers some of the problems -- the Bucs have had four turnovers across midfield, but were no closer than the opposing 38-yard line at the time, which barely qualifies as scoring position. Until Sunday's game -- with a 90-yard drive that netted a Rian Lindell field goal -- the Bucs hadn't taken a second-half snap in the red zone before the two-minute warning. (And the Bucs punted after their fake punt from the 47-yard line against Arizona.)
The Bucs have led in the second half of four of their five losses, but they've been outscored 48-13 after halftime, without any points scored in the third quarter. As it stands, the Bucs are averaging an NFL-low 2.6 points per second half, down sharply from Schiano's first season, when the team averaged 13.2 points in the second half, sixth-best in the NFL.