Wow. Where to begin. Do we begin with one of the most impressive first half performances we’ve ever seen out of Jameis Winston and Mike Evans? Or do we start with the inexplicable implosion the team had in the second half?
There’s a lot to unpack, but at the end of the day here’s what we know: good teams finish games. Good teams beat the teams they’re supposed to beat. The Buccaneers did neither and until further notice, the Buccaneers are not a good team.
Let’s get to it.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) You Play To Win The Game. You DON’T play not to lose - and that’s exactly what the Bucs did for the entire second half. Byron Leftwich went full turtle and collapsed into his shell, calling a terrible second half. Whether it was trying to run a full thrity minutes off the clock or if it was trying to punch back after the Giants scored two quick touchdowns in the third quarter, the offense was a shell of itself in the second half. For a team that scored on all six first half possessions, scoring once in seven attempts to finish the game is not how you win. The defense had no answer for a rookie quarterback in his first start even after Saquon Barkley left with a high ankle sprain in the second quarter. It was a forgettable performance that this team better not forget any time soon. Remember how bad this taste is. Remember how demoralizing it was. And never let it happen again.
2.) This Is Not All On Matt Gay. Two missed extra points and a missed game winning field goal is something that Bucs fans (unfortunately) got used to over the last few years, but that was all supposed to change with Gay doing the kicks. It didn’t. And yes, five points left on the field proved to be the difference, but it never should have come to that. The Bucs were in complete control then they went on cruise control. Rather than putting the pedal down and putting the Giants in a bodybag, they gave them new life and when it was time to turn it back up, the team just couldn’t do it. Just have to hope Gay moves on and doesn’t let this game linger all season long like so many Bucs kickers before him. Forget it and do better next week.
3.) Welcome Back, Mike Evans. Evans looked like the player we’ve come to know and love. He had a hat trick in the first half and was absolutely embarrassing Jenoris Jenkins all game long. Well, all half. For some reason, the Bucs seemed to forget Evans existed until the end of the game. Why was he not being fed continuously all day long? No one in the Giants’ secondary is even worthy of carrying Evans’ helmet, let alone could they defend him. Conservative approach breeds negative results.
4.) Shaq Barrett. Four more sacks? FOUR?! It’s Barrett’s world, he just allows us to live in it. He’s well on his way to his second consecutive Defensive Player of the Week award and making an early case for Defensive Player of the Year.
5.) Things Are About To Get Tougher. The Bucs are preparing for a road trip that will last until November 10. That starts with a trip to Los Angeles to face the Rams, then at New Orleans, against the Panthers in London, at Tennessee, and at Seattle. That’s brutal. If the Bucs can’t get this game behind them and make the necessary improvements, they could return to Ray Jay already out of the postseason hunt. Then again, performances like this one show exactly how far away this team truly is from having a chance at making the postseason.
6.) Coaches - Be Better. Whether it was Leftwich, Todd Bowles, or Bruce Arians - the whole staff needs to be better. Bowles’ defense wasn’t a threat until midway through the second half. Leftwich showed how inexperienced he is as a playcaller. And Bruce - c’mon man. An intentional delay of game because you believe Gay was better from 34 yards away rather than 29? There was fourteen second left. Mike Evans was unguardable. O.J. Howard was involved and playing well. Take a shot or two at the end zone. Don’t leave it on the kicker - and don’t make the kick harder on purpose. This staff is smart enough to know better. It was almost like they were out thinking themselves and trying to be too cute. That’s not what we expect out of a group like this.
Six Numbers To Consider
26 - Touchdowns by the Winston-Evans connection - most in team history by two players
1970 - The last time a rookie QB had 300+ yards passing, two passing touchdowns, and two rushing touchdowns until Daniel Jones in week three
3 - Players in Bucs’ history with four sacks in a game - Shaq Barrett, Simeon Rice, and Marcus Jones
8 - Number of sacks by Barrett through three games, most in the NFL
48 - Days until the Bucs’ next home game
20,378 - Miles the Bucs will travel during the six game road stretch
Six Best Ways To Forget This Game
1.) Drink. Heavily.
2.) Watch the Rays close out the season, playing meaningful games to fight for a Wild Card berth
3.) Sleep until October third when the Lightning begin their 2019-20 revenge tour
4.) Get one of those “Men In Black” mind wipe things and take yourself back to a time when you don’t remember being a Buccaneers fan so you can enjoy your Sundays again
5.) Become one of those people that is overly obsessed with their job until you reach the point that you don’t have time to even think about football, let alone watch it
6.) Keep drinking.
Six Best Tweets (In No Particular Order)
Bucs had a third-and-2 at the Giants' 5, up three with 6:48 left, and ran the ball for no gain. A touchdown there puts them up 10. Even after a Winston INT on previous drive, it's hard to have four plays in the red zone and not attempt a pass.— Greg Auman (@gregauman) September 23, 2019
Me putting on my Bucs shirt every sunday pic.twitter.com/YyBFu1NEnH— Mike (@MJ3_TB) September 22, 2019
I called up my dad to tell him how pissed I am at him for making me a Bucs fan— MikeB (@TB_MikeB) September 22, 2019
Matt Gay missed. He is a rookie, he’s stepping into a situation he knew was already a high pressure job for this franchise..— JC Cornell (@TheJCCornell) September 23, 2019
He’s human. Being a kicker is so mental. Let’s give him another chance or we as fans will curse the kickers for this organization for the future.
“I came out of retirement for this?” -Bruce Arians, probably— Bailey Adams (@BaileyJAdams22) September 22, 2019
Shaq Barrett has eight sacks this season.— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) September 22, 2019
The Denver Broncos have zero.
Six Super Bowl Bets
As always, the list is completed before the Sunday Night game is over
1.) New England Patriots - No Antonio Brown, no problem. Pats are so damn good.
2.) Kansas City Chiefs - Defense finally had a decent showing. Mahomes is freaking ridiculous
3.) Dallas Cowboys - I know. Gag. They just keep winning, though
4.) New Orleans Saints - They keep playing like that with Drew Brees out and the rest of the NFC is in big trouble when Brees returns
5.) Green Bay Packers - Not sure how, but the Packers are 3-0
26.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Too many problems to fix this quickly thanks to years of ineptitude. Bruce & Co. have their work cut out for them