Another one down and for many Bucs fans, they cannot wait for this season to be over. It’s a shame too, because this team on paper is the most talented team since the Bucs super bowl run but something is missing. The Buccaneers fell to the Dallas Cowboys by a score of 27-20. They fought hard, but in the end did not have enough fire power to overcome some early miscues, again.
How They Started
Dallas won the toss and decided to put their defense on the field first. Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers offense got off to a nice start including a 38 yard pass to Mike Evans that put the Bucs in great position for a touchdown. Unfortunately touchdowns in the red zone have been hard to come by for the past few weeks and the Bucs were forced to settle for three points. Down 3-0, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot led a balanced Cowboys attack down the field and for the touchdown when Prescott walked in on the QB keeper. The Bucs were down 7-3 and needed an answer by the offense. After a few nice plays the Bucs were in Dallas territory. Instead of getting points for Christmas though, this Buccaneers offense got a lump of coal when Winston was hit from behind by Randy Gregory, Jaylen Smith recovered the ball that popped out and was off to the races for a 69 yard scoop and score. Now all of the sudden the Bucs were down 14-3. They would answer with a 45 yard field goal by Cairo Santos to trim the Dallas lead a bit. After that each team had two drives and each team had two punts. The Cowboys then had a short field and lined up for a 59 yard field goal that was nailed by Brett Maher. The score was now 17-6 and the Bucs would get the ball back with a little bit of time left in the first half. The Buccaneers would put together a well organized drive, mix that with a few Dallas penalties and the Bucs found themselves in the endzone after Jacquizz Rodgers was able to power his way through. The Bucs were down four at the half. On the road against one of the best teams in the league I think the Bucs would take that.
At The Half
The Bucs were “okay” in the first half. They were able to move the ball pretty well against a good Dallas defense but once they crossed the 50 yard line, were unable to get enough to turn those field goals into touchdowns. This offensive line was still a problem as Winston was hit too many times in the first half. The defense started off slow but once they got comfortable, were able to settle down and play some good football. This game felt like one of the games where the Bucs were gonna need a defensive turnover to be able to win. The Cowboys got the ball to start the second half so the defense would have an opportunity right off the bat.
How They Finished
The Bucs defense forced a three and out to start the half. That was an ideal start for this defense and the offense would have another opportunity to climb back into this one. The Bucs had another promising drive going until, again, the offensive line killed the drive. After a 20 yard gain by Chris Godwin, Winston was sacked on first down for a loss of eight yards. After a incompletion on second down to Mike Evans, the Bucs faced a crucial 3rd and 18. Winston made the right read, but it was not a good throw and in the dirt. The Bucs were forced to attempt a field goal and Santos would push the kick wide right. At that point it felt like the wind was taken out of the Buccaneers sails. The Cowboys would respond with a field goal of their own and were up by seven. The Bucs needed an answer and what they got was the complete opposite as a botched handoff on a end around caused the ball to become loose and the Cowboys recovered it and with great field position would score a touchdown to extend their lead. The Bucs next possession would end in disappointment again as the Bucs were down in the red zone but being down two touchdowns, could not settle for a field goal and had to go for it on 4th down. It was 4th and 1 until there was another delay of game penalty on Jameis Winston. Winston deserves blame for that, but so does head coach Dirk Koetter. That’s inexcusable from both of them to not know the situation. The Bucs now faced a 4th and 6 and Winston scrambled and was stopped one yard short of the first down and that was probably gonna wrap things up for this game. The Cowboys would get the ball and run down some clock, they were forced to punt and give the Bucs the ball back, but with not much time. Winston made some smart check downs on the drive and had a nice 25 yard pass to Bobo Wilson across the middle which would set up a seven yard touchdown pass by Jameis Winston to Mike Evans. After a failed onside kick attempt, the Cowboys would run out the clock and clinch the NFC East.
For the second straight week, another very meh game by this Buccaneers team. Winston was meh, receivers (besides Adam Humphries who was terrific) were meh. Defense did what they had to and gave the offense plenty of opportunities but for some reason this Buccaneers team can never have a complete football game. They can never have 60 minutes where the offense is in rythym, the defense is getting key stops and they are winning the special teams battle. It just does not happen in Tampa Bay. There was a report early Sunday morning that the Glazers may give Head Coach Dirk Koetter and his staff another year. At this point it would shock me if the Bucs actually kept Koetter. Something needs to change. Remember the saying if it ain’t broke don’t fix it? Well, if it is broke you better fix it and fix it fast.