The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost a bizarre game to the Arizona Cardinals—one of the worst teams in the NFL prior to this game. The Bucs lost 38-33 to XXXXX, but they were down 31-0 at one point in the game. Somehow they almost managed to claw back and win it—but they ultimately fell short.
Jameis Winston had to leave with a shoulder injury and did not return. It’s not clear how serious that injury is—Winston played one drive after injuring his shoulder before leaving, and he was shown warming up on the sidelines several times.
For the first two quarters, the Bucs looked absolutely terrible, especially on defense. Carson Palmer didn’t throw an incompletion until the third quarter, Adrian Peterson ran for nearly 100 yards and a touchdown in the first half, and the Cardinals scored a touchdown on each of their first three drives. That Arizona offense that looked downright incompetent in previous weeks appeared to be unstoppable today.
Perhaps that was because of Peterson, who was playing his first game with the Arizona Cardinals. He looked reborn: he ended the game with 26 carries for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Larry Fitzgerald proved to be an ageless wonder, too, with 10 catches for 138 yards and a touchdown. And they put up the vast majority of that production in the first half.
When Ryan Fitzpatrick came in, things momentarily got worse for the Bucs. One terrible deep interception led to a 31-0 deficit, and only after that did Tampa Bay really wake up. Slowly but surely they started to claw their way back to 31-20 by the middle of the fourth quarter.
Mostly, the defense woke up. Brent Grimes picked off Carson Palmer, Lavonte David forced a fumble, recovered it and ran it back for a touchdown. And everyone else helped get a few stops—Gerald McCoy and Brent Grimes stood out in particular. Fitzpatrick and Doug Martin led the Bucs to some touchdown drives, too,
The Bucs’ hopes proved to be an illusion, though: Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a bad interception from his own goal-line midway through the fourth quarter, and Adrian Peterson sealed the game with a one-yard touchdown run. Doug Martin got a touchdown afterwards, but it was too little, too late.
The Cardinals are now 3-3 and hanging on by a thread in the NFC West. The Buccaneers are 2-3 and in last place in their division. It’s hard to see how those promising Bucs are going to fight their way to the playoffs, especially if Jameis Winston has to miss any kind of time. They can only hope that his injury proves to be less-than-serious.