This was the most “Tampa Bay game” I have ever witnessed. The Cleveland Browns had every single opportunity to beat the Buccaneers, but Tampa Bay had every opportunity to beat the Browns.
At the end of the day, it was a 59-yard field goal that was squeezed in by the slimmest of margins that decided the game. The Bucs won.
But did Tampa Bay really win this game?
Sure, they ended up with more points than the other team. On the other side, they also guided that team along like a puppy dog en route to a near-loss. Protection issues, turnovers, bad decisions by Jameis Winston, missed kicks - all of it is the same story that we’ve seen over and over with this regime. Only this time, they somehow won the game.
Four turnovers. Two missed kicks. Four sacks allowed. The Browns out-produced the Bucs 170-77 and outscored them 14-0 in the fourth quarter.
Winston was the team’s leading rusher with 55 yards.
Those numbers usually lose games.
On the flip side, Tampa Bay was a perfect 3/3 in the red zone, including a 2/2 mark in goal-to-go situations. They also converted their only fourth down attempt and had 34 first downs.
And don’t forget the major goal line stop in the third quarter.
All of that goes away, however, when the same mistake are continuously made as in past games. In the Bucs three losses, they made the same exact mistakes they made today. The only difference this time was that they were playing the Browns.
Winston was erratic with his throws and decision-making. The biggest defense of his questionable career - the fact that he is usually forced to play from behind - was shattered today as he aided in the Browns’ comeback.
What brings this all full circle was how Tampa Bay was out-coached in the second half. Their two-touchdown lead quickly dissipated while Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry, and Nick Chubb marched up and down the field, outscoring the Bucs 21-7 to force overtime.
The highlight of it all was when the Bucs had the ball at the Cleveland 25 with :45 seconds left and two timeouts. Instead of going for the end zone, Dirk Koetter decided to settle for a 40-yard field goal attempt with a kicker that routinely misses extra points instead of at least trying to score a touchdown.
Of course, he missed. What’s the definition of insanity, again?
It doesn’t matter if Chandler Catanzaro made the game-winning kick. That was a move of desperation on Tampa Bay’s part. They had to win this game and that was the only shot they had left.
So again, I ask the question - did the Bucs really win today?
It’ll be a “W” in the record book, but it feels more like a loss. Now, it’s on to Cincinnati, but the Bucs don’t have Bill Belichick.