Here are just five reasons things went down the way they did.
THE PLAY: Win-Magic
On a sloppy day with freezing rain coming down on the players all game long, the pace was set from the very beginning. It would be more of a tractor pull than a sprint race.
Five straight series ended with punts before the Baltimore Ravens fumbled the ball to the Bucs leading to the games first score.
However, following a botched snap to hold exchange, the Ravens scored their own first touchdown of the game and took a one point lead late in the second quarter.
With 3:20 remaining in the first half, Tampa Bay faced third-and-twenty and it seemed all but assured Baltimore would be getting the ball back with their lead intact and time to add to it.
But then, this happened.
After the run, catch and penalty, the Bucs gained 74-yards in all and ended up on the Ravens’ 11-yard line.
As we’ve seen all-to-often in 2018, the team was unable to turn the red zone visit into a touchdown, and instead settled for three points giving the Bucs a 9-7 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the half.
THE PLAY: A defense by any other name
Earlier in the year, Buccaneers head coach wondered allowed just how much firing defensive coordinator Mike Smith would really change.
Well, in some big areas, it’s changed quite a bit. But in one equally big area, it hasn’t seemed to have changed at all.
Under two minutes, whether it be late in the first half or in the game itself, this Tampa Bay defense just seems to go soft.
With a two point lead and less than two minutes on the clock, the Bucs should have gone into the locker room with their lead. After all, Baltimore’s offense lacks big play ability.
However, after gains of seven, fourteen, nine and twenty-eight, they were in the red zone with half a minute remaining and one timeout remaining in just four plays.
The drive ended in a field goal and a Baltimore Ravens 10-9 lead heading into the locker rooms.
This possession set the stage for the Ravens to come out in the second half looking to control the ball and the clock.
THE PLAY: Energy not wasted on the youth
Football is a hard game. It’s even harder when you’re a defender on the field for extended periods of time.
By the time the Ravens finished their second possession of the second-half, they had held the ball for over fourteen minutes and scored ten points. Tampa Bay on the other hand, held the ball for just over four minutes and put up three.
To say the Buccaneers defense was exhausted would be an understatement.
During their longest stretch on the field, Tampa Bay’s defensive unit surrendered four first-downs with three coming on third downs.
The biggest play of the drive was eight yards. However, the biggest play of the drive came on a four-yard loss.
On third-and-seven, the Buccaneers defense had their first shot at getting off the field maintaining a five-point deficit.
Early in the down, Carl Nassib gets his mitts on Baltimore’s rookie quarterback, Lamar Jackson, but is unable to pull him down.
Credit to Nassib for recovering and later chasing down the Heisman Trophy winner eleven-yards later, but the damage had been done.
No third down opportunity would come with this much yardage attached to it for the remainder of the possession.
A dead ball foul on running back Kenneth Dixon backed the offense up fifteen yards following this run, but the damage had been done. First down converted, and Tampa Bay’s defenders would spend another five and a half minutes on the field before finally getting the chance to rest.
THE PLAY: Complications in Baltimore
With less than fourteen minutes left in the game, the Ravens had held the ball for fourteen minutes of the second-half and scored twice. But all was not lost.
Tampa Bay was down just eight points and Jameis Winston had been playing some of the best football of his career since returning to the starting lineup.
Winston and star receiver Mike Evans were simply not on the same page here. While the pass falls short of Evans, he hasn’t even begun or appeared to be ready to get into any kind of route break when the ball is delivered.
Perhaps seeing Eric Weddle on top and being aware of Cyrus Jones underneath, Evans simply didn’t expect the ball to be thrown his way.
It’s hard to see what Winston saw. At a glance, it looks like Winston simply wanted to throw the ball to Evans.
Coming out of the slot, Chris Godwin is in single coverage against safety Tony Jefferson. Tight end Cameron Brate has solid box-out position on linebacker C.J. Mosely over the middle. Running back Peyton Barber has nobody within ten yards of him on the far left side.
Winston wasn’t under pressure. The game wasn’t on the line in the sense he needed to get a big play right away.
We’ve seen a much improved quarterback over the past few weeks, but this play was a bad play, and it came at perhaps the worst time it could have for Week 15.
THE PLAY: Final shot
Tampa Bay’s defense did their job. Despite coming onto the field on the wrong side of the fifty-yard line, the Bucs got the ball back without any more points added to the Ravens’ lead.
Now, it was on Winston and the offense to make good on the second chance.
We know how this ends.
The Bucs offense drove from their own 38-yard line to the Baltimore 30-yard line and faced third-and-one.
Now, I didn’t tweet this, so I have no evidence. But I remember thinking aloud, if this is four down territory with less than eight minutes to go, then I pass on third. Look for a screen or a quick slant, perhaps a deep shot if single high is presented.
Adam Humphries was the name I was hoping for. Peyton Barber was the name we got. And it came with a three-yard loss.
All of this set up the final play for the Buccaneers offense. One shot to extend the drive and keep their hopes of winning alive.
Not a good throw. Not a good play design either. Having Godwin and Barber so close together right at the marker is way too much congestion.
I don’t know if someone ran the wrong route. Godwin broke in before breaking back out to the spot Winston threw the ball. Perhaps Barber was supposed to be flatter and give more space to the outside for Winston to fit the ball.
Whatever the cause, the ball was to far inside and it was easily defended by the Ravens secondary.
Jackson and the Baltimore offense regained possession at the spot, and would hold the ball for the remainder of the game.