The Tampa Bay Buccaneers found themselves headed toward an ugly loss at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. However, as a true Buccaneer would say, “dead men tell no tales.” The Bucs were not about to go down without a fight, and would fight to live to tell that tale.
Tampa Bay managed to put together an impressive second-half charge. However, the comeback attempt ran short of time to pull out a road victory. Despite falling into a 31-0 hole, Tampa Bay came roaring back to make this game a true contest. Unfortunately for the Bucs, they fell 38-33 to the Cardinals in Glendale.
The Buccaneers (2-3) looked awful in the first half. Quarterback Carson Palmer picked them apart and newly-acquired running back Adrian Peterson ran through them, seemingly at will. In short order, the Bucs found themselves in a 24-0 hole.
The Cardinals (3-3) further built their lead early in the third quarter on Palmer’s third touchdown pass, a 17-yarder to receiver John Brown. The game looked to be all but over as Arizona took a 31-0 advantage.
In the most unlikely of scenarios, the Buccaneers finally found a spark. Backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had been forced into the game after starter Jameis Winston’s right shoulder injury in the second quarter. After the Cardinals struck first in the second half, Tampa Bay’s offense snapped into a rhythm in the second half. Not to be outdone, the defense did, as well.
Fitzpatrick found his groove by throwing a pair of touchdown passes. After a pair of failed 2-point conversions, Bucs linebacker Lavonte David scooped up Cards receiver Larry Fitzgerald’s fumble and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown. The ensuing successful 2-pointer pulled the Buccaneers with 31-20. The Bucs were back in business.
Then, came Fitzpatrick’s costly mistake.
In an attempt to get the Buccaneers going from their own 1-yard line, he threw a pass that Tramon Williams intercepted at the line of scrimmage. Peterson scored on the next play, putting Arizona up by 18 points.
Fitzpatrick, however, kept the Buccaneers on track, despite the interception. He would engineer a drive that would end in a Doug Martin 1-yard touchdown run. He would then then find Mike Evans on a 10-yard touchdown pass. Arizona’s lead was cut to five points, when Tampa Bay tried an onside kick. Fitzgerald snagged it to help the Cardinals hold on.
The Buccaneers’ early hole proved just too big for them to finish the comeback.
“We really had a chance, but I made too many mistakes — especially the big one that led to the seven points — to give the guys a chance to complete the comeback. There’s obviously a couple of throws I’d like to have back, but I’m proud of the guys for fighting back.”
-Buccaneers QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
“You can’t spot an NFL team 31 points and think you’re going to come back. You can’t spot an NFL team any points. It’s disappointing, it’s embarrassing, and it starts with me.”
-Buccaneers coach Dick Koetter
“We just came out a little flat and you can’t do that in the NFL. You see what happens. We’re down 31-0.”
-Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes
Peterson and Co. Plunder the Bucs
The Cardinals and their new acquisition Adrian Peterson took advantage of the Buccaneers’ defensive deficiencies. Tampa Bay came into the this game with the NFL’s third-worst defense in total yards, giving up 396.2 yards per game.
Peterson charged through massive holes created by Arizona’s once-beleaguered offensive line, racking up 124 yards and two touchdowns. The Cardinals, the worst running team in the NFL, had 160 yards on 36 carries rushing, more than triple their average.
Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer completed his first 14 passes and finished 18 of 22 for 283 yards and three touchdowns. Larry Fitzgerald consistently found seams in Tampa Bay’s defense, catching 10 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown.
All in all, the Bucs have a lot of defensive work to do before they travel to Buffalo this coming weekend.
Winston Injury Update
Jameis Winston may have done little before leaving with an injury to his throwing shoulder. He only completed 5 of 10 passes for 51 yards, while the Buccaneers were outgained 303 to 168 yards in the first half. However, Winston is a key cog in the Bucs playoff hopes. While initial X-rays on his shoulder were negative, his MRI determined that he suffered an AC joint sprain in his throwing shoulder. Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, it may be something he’ll be able to play through. Bucs Nation will be watching this one closely.
#Bucs QB Jameis Winston suffered an AC joint sprain in his throwing shoulder, source said. It may be something he’ll be able to play through
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 16, 2017
The Bucs travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills at New Era Field in Orchard Park, NY on Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 1:00pm.
-Mike D’Abate is the Managing Editor for cover32.com/Chargers and covers the Los Angeles Chargers and New England Patriots. He is also a National Content Writer and covers the NFL for cover32.com.
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