Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Bucs

Bucs-Saints: O.J. Howard’s struggles continue on costly first-quarter fumble

The Bucs didn’t have the ball often in the first quarter, and when they did, they found a creative way to give it away.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard (80) loses the football as he is hit by New Orleans Saints free safety Marcus Williams (43) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. Saints outside linebacker Demario Davis made the interception. [MARK LOMOGLIO  |  AP]
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard (80) loses the football as he is hit by New Orleans Saints free safety Marcus Williams (43) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. Saints outside linebacker Demario Davis made the interception. [MARK LOMOGLIO | AP]
Published Nov. 17
Updated Nov. 17

TAMPA — The Bucs were lucky to be trailing the Saints by just two field goals late in the first quarter on Sunday, especially considering New Orleans had the ball for the entire quarter minus three plays.

Then one of the weirder plays you’d see led to an easy Saints touchdown that broke the game open before the second quarter began.

On their fifth offensive play of the day, the Bucs had second-and-10 at their own 16 when Winston threw a ball to tight end O.J. Howard going across the middle.

Howard initially had the ball cleanly, but as he attempted to tuck the ball away and make a move downfield, he lost it behind his back. Howard continued to try to gain possession of the ball behind his back, but lost it into the air as safety Marcus Williams hit him.

That gave linebacker Demario Davis a gift interception at the 17-yard line.

The Saints scored easily on the next play when Drew Brees found a wide-open Michael Thomas in the right side of the end zone, giving the Saints a 13-0.

The interception was Winston's 15th of the season, the most in the NFL, but the blame was clearly more on Howard for not being able to secure the pass.

Howard had a season-high seven targets and his first touchdown reception of the season it last week's win over Arizona, but his season has largely been a disappointment.

Ball security has been an issue for Howard, who was poised to have a breakout season this year.

Despite just 17 receptions over the season first nine games, Howard entered Sunday tied for the team-high with three drops, according to Fox Sports stats. Howard had just one drop in 10 games last season.

When asked why Howard hasn’t been a bigger part of the Bucs’ offense, coach Bruce Arians has said Howard hasn’t made the most of his chances and that drops have been an issue for Howard this season.

He also had a costly fumble that gave the ball away inside the red zone in the second quarter in the Bucs’ Week 1 home loss to San Francisco and then later in that quarter had a pass go off his hands that led to an interception.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInThYard.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre has the all-time NFL record for most interceptions thrown in a career. He led the league in interceptions three times. He said this year's interceptions leader, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, has "huge upside." [MATT LUDTKE  |  AP]
    The Pro Football Hall of Famer, and the NFL’s all-time interceptions leader, says Winston might be trying to do too much downfield. He knows from experience.
  2. The XFL isn't a developmental league, but it is a "league of opportunity," commissioner Oliver Luck said Tuesday. "Bust your butt, play hard, have a chance to get great game tape and you’ll get a shot in the NFL." [TED S. WARREN  |  Associated Press]
    In a wide-ranging interview, the commissioner discusses the state of the league. “Playing good football is our mandate,” he says. “We have to do that. We can’t be sloppy.”
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston draws a crowd at his charity event Tuesday night at Raymond James Stadium. [EDUARDO A. ENCINA  |  Times]
    The quarterback hosts 2,500 kids Tuesday with bouncy houses and a chance to visit an NFL stadium.
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) is injured after scoring a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    ESPN reports a hamstring injury will sideline the receiver. How will his absence impact the offense?
  5. In Sunday's win, Jameis Winston finished with four passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown, three interceptions and more than 400 passing yards. He’s the only quarterback in NFL history to hit those marks in a single game. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  Associated Press]
    We’re talking about Tampa Bay’s grit and resilience but overlooking the reason why it fell behind in the first place: the quarterback.
  6. Quarterback Jameis Winston (3) reaches across the goal line for a touchdown during the first half of the Bucs' 38-35 win over Indianapolis Sunday in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    Linebacker Lavonte David lit into teammates at halftime Sunday and the Bucs rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit.
  7. Bucs receiver Mike Evans signs a Texas A&M jersey during his charity bowling event in Tampa on Monday night. Proceeds go to the Mike Evans Family Foundation, which provides college scholarships to low-income students. [EDUARDO ENCINA  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    In it’s first year of existence, the Mike Evans Family Foundation has helped send low-income students to college.
  8. The Eagles and Carson Wentz, above, overcome the Giants and Eli Manning for a home victory. [MICHAEL PEREZ  |  AP]
    Philadelphia scores the game’s final 20 points, ties Dallas for first in the NFC East.
  9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) sustains an injury while scoring a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts defense during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Sunday, December 8, 2019.  [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    Both players were injured in the Bucs’ home win against the Colts.
  10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) celebrates as he runs off the field after an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio) [MARK LOMOGLIO  |  AP]
    The Bucs quarterback was examined by a hand specialist Monday as a precaution.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement