How in the world did this happen?
The Bucs took on a Rams team that had scored nine points all season, a team that hadn't even scored a touchdown. And yet they — the Bucs, that is — found a way to lose. In the home opener.
Final score: Rams 37, Bucs 32.
Uh, did you get that? Thirty-seven.
So how did it happen? Let us count the ways. Mostly it was because Tampa Bay let the Rams hang around and hang around until the Rams finally decided to say, "Okay, you don't want it? We'll take it."
And that's what they did. They took it.
Now the Bucs are 1-2 with the defending Super Bowl champs coming to town. Here's a look back at Sunday's head-shaker.
• The Bucs had a chance in the waning moments, but couldn't punch it in for the go-ahead score. Part of the blame goes on poor clock management. The Bucs went into the locker room with a timeout in their pockets. (And, actually, they used one when the clock was already stopped with four seconds left.) Poor job there by the Bucs.
• Play of the day? When the Rams converted a third-and-17 with 7:26 left in the fourth quarter and clinging to a 31-26 lead. They converted when Alterraun Verner was flagged for interference. On the same play, Vernon Hargreaves was flagged for holding, but that penalty was declined. A few players later, the Rams connected on a long TD pass from Case Keenum to Tavon Austin, and that was all she wrote. Fans in the stadium complained about the call, but it did look like the right call.
• Can't totally pin this loss on kicker Roberto Aguayo, but the rookie kicker didn't help. Here we ago with the questions about his reliability. He missed an extra-point and a 41-yard field goal attempt. Those have to be automatic kicks in this league. Now the Bucs have to be nervous every time he goes out for a kick, and the bad part is he still hasn't lined up for a truly critical kick yet. His misses Sunday had the Bucs chasing points the rest of the day.
• How was Jameis Winston? Overall, the Bucs quarterback was pretty good. The interception he threw in the first half wasn't really his fault. It was a ball that should've been caught by running back Charles Sims. But Sims bobbled the ball and it was picked off by former Bucs safety Mark Barron. The other turnover, however, was his fault. With a third down deep in L.A. territory in the fourth quarter and the Bucs trailing by only four, Winston was hit and fumbled. The Rams returned it 77 yards for a touchdown that, at the time, seemed to seal the game for Los Angeles.
• Finally, a takeaway. The Bucs went the first two weeks of the season without causing a turnover. When they finally did cause one Sunday, it was huge. Midway through the first quarter, Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander intercepted Rams quarterback Case Keenum and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown. Alexander's pick-six would have tied the game, but Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo — close your eyes, GM Jason Licht — missed the extra point. In the second quarter, the Bucs got their second takeaway when linebacker Lavonte David punched the ball out of the arms of Rams receiver Kenny Britt. Bucs safety Chris Conte recovered and that, ultimately, led to another Bucs touchdown.
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• The Bucs miss Doug Martin. That's not surprising. Nor is it an indictment of Charles Sims, who was the one chosen to pick up the bulk of Martin's touches. Sims is a solid pass catcher and ran hard, but he's no Martin. Few are. The Bucs offense managed to move the ball at times without much of a ground game, but the sooner Martin returns, the sooner the Bucs offense will look like the way Dirk Koetter draws it up.
• Is that Adam Humprhies or Julian Edelman? The Bucs have themselves quite a third-down, slot-guy in Humphries. Precise routes, great hands, toughness, speed. The little guy has it all. He has become the passing game's most dangerous weapon behind Mike Evans.
• Biggest concern for Tampa Bay going forward? Well, besides the kicker? Easy: the defense. The Bucs gave up 37 to a Rams team that had scored only nine all season. One touchdown was on a fumble return and another TD drive was the result of a short field set up by an interception. Still. Not a good day for a Bucs defense that gave up way too much to a woeful Rams offense.