The Buccaneers were 2-1 and had just gotten off a bye week when they faced the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 5. The Bucs had looked decent the first two games of the season, but they had been crushed by the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3. The Bengals, meanwhile, were 2-2, and had managed to defeat the Baltimore Ravens. This team certainly didn't look like the easy opponent it, in retrospect, was. The Bengals had lost a close game to the Browns, but had beaten the Baltimore Ravens and the Carolina Panthers.
The game was a close affair throughout. The Bengals got on the scoreboard first when Aqib Talib decided to just let Terrell Owens run by him. It didn't take long for the Bucs to get back, though, as they first pinned the Bengals at their own 6-yard line, and then intercepted the ball for a touchdown. That was a perfectly designed play, where Cody Grimm threatened blitz, but was instead moved to cover the flats. As soon as he turned the ball was there, and he could simply walk into the endzone. The game would go into halftime with a 10-7 score for the Bengals, after neither team managed to do much beyond those two touchdowns. Highlights included a 61-yard Earnest Graham scamper, followed by a Josh Freeman interception. On the very next drive the Buccaneers looked like they were going to score, but a goalline fumble by Mike Williams prevented that from happening.
In the second half things heated up, though. The Buccaneers put together an 80-yard drive, capped off by a 1-yard Earnest Graham touchdown. The Bengals crawled back with a quick field goal, and after Michael Spurlock coughed up the bal on a kick return the Bengals converted great field position into a touchdown to take a 21-14 lead into the final minutes of the game. The Buccaneers and Bengals exchanged a few possessions, before Aqib Talib picked off Carson Palmer at midfield. And that's when momentum swung in the Bucs' direction.
Josh Freeman quickly moved the Bucs downfield, completing passes to Kellen Winslow and Mike Williams to get to the 20-yard-line. And then, the rookie wide receiver stepped up to correct his earlier fumble. With pressure in his face, Josh Freeman lofted a ball in the general direction of Mike Williams, who was in the endzone. Jonathan Joseph looked to have him covered, and Chinedum Ndukwe came over at the last second to help out. But that didn't matter - Mike Williams lofted over the both of them and grabbed a ball he shouldn't have grabbed. That was a big-time play for a big-time receiver, and that was when things swung the Bucs' way.
The game was only tied, but the Bengals didn't seem to have a chance. They could've ran out the clock and waited for overtime, but they put the ball in Carson Palmer's hands instead. It didn't take long for E.J. Biggers to deflect a ball, and for Sabby Piscitelli to catch it and run it down the sideline just into field goal range. Josh Freeman then made a terrific 21-yard throw on a line to Michael Spurlock, who made a toe-tapping sideline catch to stop the clock. Connor Barth walked onto the field to make the 31-yard field goal and win the game for the Bucs.