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From Turning Point to Breaking Point, Week 6: When Bucs fans decided to leave

The last time Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans saw their team win at home was in early December. [Getty Images]
The last time Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans saw their team win at home was in early December. [Getty Images]
Published Oct. 13, 2014

There comes a point during a lopsided football game where you make a calculation.

You ask yourself whether there's anything to be gained by continuing to watch. You can bail and risk missing a historic comeback that you would have talked about for years. Or you could bail and not miss anything except seconds ticking off a clock. You might even get to the things you claim you're too busy to do, like cleaning your gutters.

Buccaneers fans made that calculation about 1:45 p.m. Sunday. That's when they decided that a Buc's life wasn't for them as Joe Flacco hit seventh-round pick Michael Campanaro on a 19-yard pass at the end of the first quarter to put the Ravens ahead 28-0. Yo ho, yo ho, we're outta here. We've been extorted and pilfered, our wallets filched and quarterback sacked.

This is no joke, fans are filing out of the stadium.

The Tampa Bay Bucs fans leaving early...... And there are 3 more quarters to be played

View of stands at Raymond James as second half begins for #Ravens-Bucs. pic.twitter.com/YJjzWOKTGF

One minute into the second quarter, the Ravens struck again and scored their fifth touchdown in five possessions. With his 56-yard pass to Steve Smith, Flacco became the quickest quarterback to five touchdowns in a game since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger. On their way to a 48-17 laugher, the Ravens were making professional football look video game easy.

Did Buccaneers fans leave too early? Maybe some of them didn't leave soon enough. A recap and evaluation:

First quarter, 13:11: On their opening drive, the Ravens march 80 yards in less than two minutes and get on the board when Flacco completes a 15-yard pass to Torrey Smith.

Time to leave? No. According to advancedfootballanalytics.com, the Ravens have a win probability of 71 percent after the touchdown, but it's only 7-0. The Bucs had longer odds later against the Steelers and still pulled off a comeback.

First quarter, 9:22: Like the first touchdown, Smith runs a slant pattern from the right and Flacco hits him in stride to give the Ravens a 14-0 lead.

Time to leave? After a Ravens touchdown, a Mike Glennon interception and another Ravens touchdown, the game is starting to feel like the Thursday night meltdown in Atlanta three weeks ago. The Ravens' win probability jumps to 90 percent, but there's too much football left to abandon ship.

First quarter, 5:00: Four more minutes and seven more points. On Flacco's third touchdown, he mixes it up and throws a 17-yard pass over the middle to second-year receiver Kamar Aiken.

Time to leave? Did the Bucs even bother to show up? Maybe the real football players are on Geno Smith time and went to see that new Ben Affleck movie Gone Girl? Speaking of which, where is the closest theater and what are the showtimes?

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First quarter, 0:01: When Flacco completes the touchdown pass to Campanaro, you get the feeling the Ravens are just rubbing it in. One reason: It's 28-0. Another: It's not only the first catch of Campanaro's career but also his very first target.

Time to leave? Well, if you leave right now, you could catch the 2:30 p.m. showing at the AMC Veterans … But it's only the first quarter. Although the Buccaneers have only a 7 percent chance of winning, you should stick around at least a little longer. You did pay $7.50 for your beer, so you might as well finish it.

Second quarter, 13:57: On 2nd-and-7, the Buccaneers bring a safety down to add an eighth defender in the box. The Ravens completely fake out the defense, which bites on the play-action. The Buccaneers' overpursuit of the potential run to the right allows Flacco plenty of time to roll out to his left, set his feet and heave the ball 56 yards downfield to Smith. Smith pushes off cornerback Alterraun Verner ever so slightly and gets the necessary separation to haul in the pass.

Time to leave? When the Falcons thumped the Buccaneers 56-14, they didn't score their fifth touchdown until about halfway through the second quarter. When the Ravens do it, there's nearly three full quarters to go. You don't need a statistic to tell you this game is over or that this team is bad. Just leave, and read Thomas Bassinger's Turning Point analysis the next morning.

By the time the Buccaneers were finally in position to put points on the board late in the first half, the few fans that remained suffered the ignominy of a witnessing a 47-yard field goal try doinking off the right upright.

A few moments later, CBS cameras caught about as many fans in the aisles as in seats.

And who could blame them for leaving? They couldn't watch the mess on the field any longer. But those gutters? Suddenly, cleaning them didn't seem so bad.

Thomas Bassinger can be reached at tbassinger@tampabay.com. Follow @tbassfootball.

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