The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football, 24-21 on a missed last-second field goal. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones once again cut through the Bucs’ defense time and time again, and Tampa Bay simply couldn’t keep up—though they came close.
While the Bucs lost, you can’t fault their effort tonight. The defense was terrible, though that was in large part down to injuries, but the offense put up a tough fight. Jameis Winston in particular was outstanding, completing 27 of 35 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns with no turnovers. He showed none of the jitters that were common for him in prime time NFL games this time around, and
Still, the Bucs had only seven points at the half, largely due to a Peyton Barber fumble deep in Falcons territory and a running game that couldn’t quite get off the ground. That one first-half touchdown was scored by O.J. Howard, who was knocked out of the game with an ankle injury on that play, too.
In fact, the Bucs were decimated by injuries. Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David and Vernon Hargreaves had been ruled out for the game, forcing the Bucs to start three more backups on defense. The game itself wasn’t kind to them, either: tight end O.J. Howard (ankle), safety Justin Evans (ankle), wide receiver DeSean Jackson (ankle), safety T.J. Ward (concussion), linebacker Adarius Glanton (lower leg) and guard J.R. Sweezy (lower leg) all could not finish the game due to various injuries.
Despite all those injuries, the Bucs were down just 17-7 at the half—meaning this game was perfectly within reach. And the second half was a very different story from the first, starting with an actual, completed, deep touchdown pass—only the fourth 40+-yard pass the Bucs had completed this season.
Look at that DEEEEEEP throw!— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) December 19, 2017
Go #Bucs! pic.twitter.com/ghHTDP46CT
The Falcons only scored one touchdown the rest of the way, with the Bucs blocking a field goal to keep the game within reach. With four minutes left, an Adam Humphries touchdown capped a commanding Jameis Winston-led drive to cut the Falcons’ lead to 24-21.
The Bucs’ injury-wracked defense miraculously came up with a stop, thanks to a Clinton McDonald sack, and got Winston the ball back with 1:00 remaining. But with no timeouts remaining, that was barely enough to get the Bucs in field goal range—and Patrick Murray couldn’t hit the 54-yard field goal.
And with that, the Bucs are now 4-10, having lost their last four games. These Bucs put up a fight and certainly don’t look like a team that’s given up, but a loss is a loss, and that’s not good news for head coach Dirk Koetter or his staff.