During the game, there are a lot of emotions on the field, in the stands, and in the comment sections of Bucs Nation. Well, the Cardinals fan base is no different, and here, we’re going to look at some of the ups and downs as they correlated with the game action. But we’re looking at it from Arizona’s point of view.
WARNING: SOME EXPLICIT LANGUAGE FOLLOWS
(Comments from RevengeOfTheBirds.com)
JAMEIS WINSTON INTERCEPTION
The Bucs began the game with the ball and three plays in, Jameis Winston threw an interception on 3rd and 7 to give Arizona the ball for the first time, and already in scoring position.
Winston was targeting Chris Godwin on the through, and was intercepted by Cardinals rookie, Byron Murphy Jr.
RONALD JONES CLOSES OUT REBOUND DRIVE FOR BUCCANEERS
Following Arizona’s field goal after intercepting Winston, the Tampa Bay offense stepped on the field for their second possession, and a chance to rebound from the bad beginning to the game.
It was an up and down drive which was capped off by Ronald Jones who ran the ball into the end zone from seven yards out. It was the first touchdown of the game for either side, and the extra point would give the Bucs a 7-0 lead.
CARDINALS HAVE A KICKER
Zane Gonzalez’s career didn’t get off to the greatest start, but he seems to have found his footing in Arizona.
Following the Buccaneers’ scoring drive, the Cardinals came back and put themselves in range for the young kicker, who proceeded to nail his 54-yard field goal attempt. The kick didn’t give Arizona a lead, but it did make it a one point game in the first quarter.
While Cardinals fans were happy with their kicker, some early frustrations were setting in.
KICK, KICK, KICK, KICK, KICK, BOOM
The game became a defensive battle as the two teams traded kicks to end drives for five straight possessions. The positive for the Bucs was that one of their kicks was a 30-yard field goal which gave them a 10-6 lead at the time.
Their lead held up for four punt exchanges but was erased following Arizona’s nine play drive, which ended with wide receiver Christian Kirk beating Tampa Bay cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting for a 33-yard touchdown strike to put the Cardinals ahead 13-10 with 1:10 remaining in the first half.
RIGHT BACK AT CHA
While Cardinals fans were celebrating their newfound lead, Jameis Winston and his offense (mainly O.J. Howard) were busy driving down the field themselves.
It took the Bucs just 55 seconds to respond to Kirk’s first touchdown of the day as Winston and Howard hooked up for a 10-yard touchdown pass with just twelve seconds left before halftime. The score put Tampa Bay back up 17-13.
...not all Cardinals fans were upset with the late first half score however...
SUN FAVORS THE SUNSHINE STATE
The Arizona Cardinals started the second half with the ball and a four point deficit. Following a 55-yard catch and run by wide receiver Andy Isabella, the road team was knocking on the door of an early second-half score. Rinse. Repeat.
And on fourth and one, head coach Kliff Kingsbury decided to go for it, dialing up a play-action pass. It worked perfectly. The Buccaneers defense all but sold out to defend what was surely going to be a run, only to have tight end Maxx Williams run free with nothing stopping him from a big go ahead touchdown.
Nothing, that is, except the sun. And in the sunshine state, that big beautiful ball of fire plays favorites.
The Bucs Nation ‘Know Your Enemy’ focus player for Week 10 certainly made the most of his opportunity against a less than stellar Buccaneers secondary. And his second score, a 69-yard bomb from Kyler Murray over the head of Ryan Smith, brought the game even at 20 a piece after Tampa Bay had turned their turnover on downs into three points the drive previous.
PRAISE FROM THE ENEMY
It’s cool sometimes to get compliments from those on the other side of your conflict. It’s less cool when it’s an opposing fan base and they’re celebrating your quarterback throwing his second interception of the game.
RETURNING THE FAVOR
David Johnson was once considered a savior in Arizona. Nowadays, not so much. And the fumble he gave up to Lavonte David, just two plays after the interception set them up at the Tampa Bay 20-yard line, won’t do him any favors.
ARIZONA WON’T LET GAY MISS THE KICK
Following Lavonte David’s great defensive play against David Johnson, the Buccaneers drove back down to the Arizona 23-yard line, setting up Matt Gay with a 46-yard field goal attempt. Which he missed.
But, the Cardinals just couldn’t let that stand, so they allowed Gay a second attempt from five-yards closer, and he nailed it. The kick gave Tampa Bay a 23-20 lead moving into the fourth quarter.
NEW COACH, SAME MANTRA
You can take Bruce Arians out of Arizona, but the phrase ‘no risk it, no biscuit’ still lives in the Cardinals fan base. Some used it mockingly, some used it excitedly. And it came out again when Kingsbury’s special teams unit pulled off one of the funnest fake punts I’ve seen in recent memory.
...two plays later, the Arizona Cardinals completed a big play the old fashioned way, as Kyler Murray hooked up once again with Christian Kirk. The score gave the Cardinals a 27-23 lead with less than half of the fourth quarter remaining.
BUCS TRYING TO BEAT BUCS
Self inflicted wounds have haunted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers all season. And when Ronald Jones fumbled for no apparent reason after receiving one of his many screen receptions, it seemed to be a moment which would go down as a ‘Bucs Beating Bucs’ moment in the post-game conversations.
Cardinals fans were happy to see their guy - Budda Baker - come up with the recovery.
...on the very next play, Kyler Murray threw an incomplete pass towards the sideline as he was being sacked. The replay appeared to show he was, in fact, sacked. And despite having no challenges remaining, head coach Bruce Arians threw the flag anyway. Something Buccaneers fans and media alike reacted to. And so did Cardinals fans.
THE REDEMPTION OF JAMEL DEAN
Jamel Dean has more passes broken up this season than any defensive back had in all of 2018 (h/t Greg Auman). But it was his interception that really sealed his return to favor among the fans, and has brought out high praise from coaches and teammates alike.
It didn’t however, make Cardinals fans happy.
92-YARDS TO WIN IT ALL
Getting the ball back, down by three, Jameis Winston had 92-yards and 3:40 standing between him, his team and their first home win of 2019. Oh, and the Cardinals defense.
Winston hit Chris Godwin for a big play on first and ten from his own eight yard line, and Godwin ran some more to make it a 49-yard play when all was said and done.
A 16-yard defensive pass interference call against early game Cardinals hero, Murphy Jr., gave the Bucs a 1st and 10 at the Arizona 27-yard line just two plays into their possession.
Three plays later, the Bucs were at the one-yard line with four chances to take the lead. It took them three, as Peyton Barber took his third down carry over the goal line and Tampa Bay took a 30-27 lead with 1:43 left in the game.
1:43 OF NOTHING GOOD (FOR THE ROAD TEAM)
With more than one and a half minutes left in the game, I think everyone expected Murray and Kingsbury to go for the win.
But they came out weirdly conservative, using shorter passes and letting a lot of clock run as it seemed the team was aiming for a game tying field goal over trying to get a game winning touchdown.
Something not lost on Cardinals fans. Also not lost, is the universal disdain every fan base appears to have for NFL officiating.
And that sealed it. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers returned home for the first time since September and held their ground against the invading Arizona Cardinals.
One last comment from the revengeofthebirds.com comments section I wanted to share though.