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Buccaneers vs. Bills final score: Defense wastes Jameis Winston’s outstanding performance

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The Bucs had a chance, but the defense just couldn’t hack it.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Buffalo Bills Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost a tough game against the Buffalo Bills, 30-27, likely ending their playoff hopes for this season. The Bucs defense ruined what was arguably Jameis Winston not only playing through a shoulder injury, but having arguably the best game of his career.

The Bucs quarterback completed 31 of 43 passes for 385 yards, three touchdowns and one interception against one of the best pass defenses in the NFL—and he did that with no real passing game, while injured, on the road.

Those kinds of stats come with big numbers for Bucs receivers too, but none more than O.J. Howard who had his first big game as a receiving weapon. The rookie caught six catches for 98 and two touchdowns. Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson had a really productive game, even though Jackson was still seeing those deep balls fly over his head.

On the other side of the ball, the Bucs defense continued to struggle in the passing game, though they weren’t exactly heroes against the run either. Tyrod Taylor was able to break free for a couple of big runs, and completed some big passes with very well-placed throws. Deonte Thompson, who the Bills had just picked up off the waiver wire, ended up catching four passes for 107 yards on the hapless Bucs secondary.

An interception on a bad decision by Jameis Winston would have given the Bills a much bigger lead—except for some reason, they let the clock run out when they were well within field goal range. Two fumbles, one caused by a horrible Donovan Smith block, were more costly. The second one basically lost the game for the Bucs, as Humphries fumbled the ball on his first catch, with just three minutes remaining in a tied game.

Aside from that fumble, the Bucs’ offense really went off in the second half. A deep throw to DeSean Jackson (finally!) was negated by a bogus holding call on Donovan Smith, but Jameis Winston found O.J. Howard, Mike Evans, and then O.J. Howard again for the touchdown to finish that drive.

Another drive and another touchdown to O.J. Howard later, and the Bucs had tied the game. Lavonte David did the one thing the Bucs defense is good at: forcing turnovers. In this case, he forced a fumble and recovered it—he’s getting ridiculously good at that. A toe-dragging Mike Evans gave the Bucs a 27-20 lead with three minutes remaining, but the defense allowed the Bills to tie it in just three plays—and Humphries then fumbled the game away.

Ultimately, this was a game of two halves. In the first, the Bucs looked outmatched, particularly on defense, and it seemed like their season was likely coming to an end. In the second, Jameis Winston took the reins and destroyed a string Bills offense, while the Tampa Bay defense did just enough to get the win.

Ultimately, the Bucs defense was once again outmatched, and ruined what should have been an easy win given the offensive performance. Simply put: this Bucs defense is not good enough to get to consistently win games, no matter how well Jameis Winston and company play. And at 2-4, the Bucs are facing another lost season.