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Bucs-Seahawks: Tampa Bay doesn’t want to win, and other things we learned

Thomas Bassinger: The Bucs, when presented the chance to steal a victory in Seattle, chose to settle for a tie. That decision came back to haunt them.

Observations from the Buccaneers’ 40-34 overtime loss to the Seahawks on Sunday:

1. When coaches say that the most important thing is winning, sometimes they’re not being truthful. Case in point: Sunday. Bruce Arians wanted to avoid losing more than he wanted to win. Overtime was an unnecessary exercise. After the Bucs scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to cut the Seahawks’ lead to 34-33, they could have attempted a two-point conversion. Succeed, and win. Fail, and lose.

2. A two-point conversion is roughly a 50-50 proposition (heading into today, teams had converted 25 of 53 attempts), as is the coin toss that decides which team gets possession of the ball to start overtime. The team that loses the coin toss might never touch the ball in overtime, as was the case for the Bucs. Which scenario do you prefer: taking control of the game or leaving it to a coin toss?

3. When the Seahawks won the coin toss and started overtime with the ball, was there any doubt about what was going to happen? Their quarterback is playing football better than anyone in the NFL right now. Nothing seems to rattle the MVP candidate, who makes throws under pressure and on the run look smooth and effortless. He completed 67 percent of his passes Sunday for 378 yards and five touchdowns.

4. Two of the past five quarterbacks to pass for 350 yards and five touchdowns have done so against the Bucs. Mitchell Trubisky did it last season. (Ken O’Brien also did it in 1985.)

5. Jameis Winston lost a fumble early in the fourth quarter when left tackle Donovan Smith bumped into him as he was throwing. Blame Smith if you wish, but consider that Winston caught a break in the first quarter when he threw a touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman that should have been intercepted.

6. Every pass Winston throws feels like it could be a grenade. Other than that, he played well against the Seahawks, completing 66 percent of his passes for 335 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. It was the 11th time in his career that he threw multiple touchdown passes and no interceptions. The Bucs are 4-7 in those games.

7. Winston posted a passer rating greater than 100 for 24th time in his career. The Bucs are 12-12 (.500) in those games. Wilson posted a passer rating greater than 100 for the 64th time in his career. The Seahawks are 54-10 (.844) in those games.

8. We often talk about what Winston doesn’t have. The Bucs don’t have a credible run game, they don’t have a complementary defense, they don’t have competent coaching and on and on. Let’s talk about what he does have: Mike Freaking Evans. Evans consistently makes catches that few in the NFL can make. He caught 12 of 16 targets Sunday for 180 yards and a touchdown.

9. The outcomes of the Bucs’ three drives after they took a 21-7 lead: punt, missed field goal, punt.

10. Despite the missed field goal at the end of the second quarter, the Bucs took an eight-point lead into halftime. Entering Sunday, they had been 95-25 (.792) in games in which they had a lead of eight or more points at halftime. Including the loss to the Seahawks, they’ve lost four of their past five.

11. A Matt Gay 41-yard field goal gave the Bucs a 24-21 lead entering the fourth quarter. Entering Sunday, they had been 184-38 (.829) in games in which they had a lead of three or more points after three quarters.

12. Since when did Jamel Dean start playing with a piano strapped to his back? Seahawks receiver D.K. Metcalf left the Bucs cornerback, who ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine in March, in the dust on a 53-yard go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown.

13. Penalties cost the Bucs two touchdowns. Defensive pass interference on Devin White set up the Seahawks for a score at the end of the second half. Before catching a touchdown pass in the third quarter, Scotty Miller stepped out of bounds, an illegal move that negated the score. On the next play, Jameis Winston scrambled for a 20-yard touchdown, but a Demar Dotson holding penalty negated that score as well.

14. It’s time to give defensive tackle Vita Vea his due. With apologies to linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who has 10.5 sacks this season, Vea is the Bucs best defender. On a critical third-and-5 pass from the Tampa Bay 19-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Vea hit Wilson as he threw, forcing an incompletion. The Seahawks, who were trailing 24-21, settled for a game-tying field goal.

15. The Bucs and Seahawks entered the NFL in 1976. Tampa Bay has an all-time winning percentage of .384. Seattle has a .513 win percentage. For the Bucs to pass the Seahawks, they would have to win 89 straight games (or every game for the next five and a half seasons) and Seattle would have to lose 89 straight.

Contact Thomas Bassinger at Follow @tometrics.