Tampa Bay let a huge opportunity slip through its grasp Sunday afternoon in New Orleans.
The Buccaneers rallied from an early 13-0 deficit with 24 unanswered points and owned a double-digit advantage in the final quarter, only to watch quarterback Drew Brees rally right back and march the Saints to a 37-31 overtime win.
“Tough game, but you knew coming in that it would be a tough duty, but the guys fought hard,” Bucs head coach Lovie Smith said. “Whenever you can comeback from 13 and go up by 11 you’re doing some good things. But no matter what, it’s always about the finish and we didn’t finish the way we needed to.”
Rather than heading into next week’s return to Raymond James Stadium against Baltimore at 2-3 and a game off NFC South leading Carolina (3-2), the Bucs fell to 1-4 and alone in the division cellar. The loss marks Tampa Bay’s sixth straight against New Orleans.
Despite all the positive performances turned in by the Buccaneers on Sunday, most became overshadowed by self-inflicted wounds that ultimately contributed to New Orleans’ comeback win. Tampa Bay was penalized 15 times for 113 yards, with a number of those yellow flags scuttling big gains or breathing new life into Saints’ drives.
The last of those 15 infractions proved to be lethal. With the Saints facing third-and-10 from their own 41, Tampa Bay appeared to force New Orleans into a punting situation when Brees’ pass to rookie receiver Brandin Cooks fell incomplete. But a 5-yard illegal use of hands penalty called against Bucs cornerback Johnthan Banks gave New Orleans a fresh set of downs at its own 46. Brees, who entered Sunday with 34 game-winning drives to his name, didn’t let the new life go to waste. Nine plays later, running back Khiry Robinson blasted through the Tampa Bay defense and finished off the Bucs with an 18-yard touchdown run.
Clinging to a 31-26 lead midway through the final quarter, multiple penalties contributed to a terrible sequence that eventually set up Saints kicker Shayne Graham’s game-tying 44-yard field goal with 2:30 remaining.
After Saints running back Pierre Thomas (112 total yards and 2 TDs) cut Tampa Bay’s lead to 31-26 with a 27-yard touchdown run, the Bucs took over at their own 20 and only moved backward. The drive started with a holding call, followed by a fumbled shotgun snap, delay of game penalty and false start. Backed up to the half-yard line, the negative drive ended with quarterback Mike Glennon getting crushed for a safety by Saints linebacker Junior Galette.
Thanks to linebacker Lavonte David’s monster effort on the Saints’ ensuing possession, Tampa Bay limited New Orleans to Graham’s 44-yard field goal that tied the game. David made three straight solo tackles to stop the Saints’ advancement and finished with a game-high 14 tackles that included two for a loss and one defensed pass.
The Buccaneers defense ended up surrendering 511 total yards Sunday. Brees accounted for 371 of those yards, completing 35 of 57 pass attempts, but also got victimized three times by Tampa Bay interceptions. Brees was without his favorite target, tight end Jimmy Graham, for much of the game. One of the league’s premier players at his position, Graham hurt his shoulder after getting popped by David in the first quarter. He returned to haul in the second of his two receptions but then exited for good.
Banks recorded the first of the three interceptions late in the second quarter when he grabbed an errant Brees flip to Travaris Cadet while under duress. That theft resulted in Tampa Bay’s first touchdown and cut New Orleans’ lead to 13-10. Glennon took the Bucs 40 yards by stringing together four straight completions, capped by receiver Louis Murphy’s 20-yard leaping grab in the left side of the end zone. One of last week’s stars, Murphy pulled down three of his seven targets for 35 yards.
The Bucs got to Brees again right after grabbing their first lead of the day early in the second half. Running back Bobby Rainey put Tampa Bay on top 17-13 with a 9-yard run, and then linebacker Danny Lansanah snagged an interception that he took to the house for a 33-yard touchdown. Recently promoted to the starting strongside linebacker position, Lansanah’s showing a penchant for making the most of his splash plays. The third-year pro returned his only other career interception for a pick-six two weeks ago in Atlanta.
“Coach [Smith] emphasizes [takeaways] every week in practice,” Lansanah said. “We have to take the ball away and give our offense opportunities and short field advantages and that’s what we did.”
That interception gave Tampa Bay its first of two 11-point advantages. Glennon responded to Brees’ 5-yard strike to Cadet with a 10-play, 81-yard march punctuated by receiver Robert Herron’s first career touchdown from 10 yards out to put the Bucs back up, 31-20. Glennon strengthened his case to hold onto the starting job by completing 19 of 32 attempts for 249 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Glennon narrowly avoided a massive mistake reminiscent of two early season interceptions thrown by the injured Josh McCown prior to hitting Herron in the end zone, but mostly impressed throughout Sunday’s contest.
Cornerback Alterraun Verner recorded the Bucs’ third pick when he leaped in front of a pass intended for Meachem to deny New Orleans’ attempt at winning in regulation. Each of the three turnovers can be partially attributed to a Bucs front four that failed to bring Brees down in the backfield but hurried him six times. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was credited with four of those pressures and defensive ends William Gholston and Michael Johnson recorded the other two.
Tampa Bay made the most of its field-flipping turnovers and its offense improved dramatically after combining for just 30 yards in the first period, but the running game again failed to gain traction. Running backs Doug Martin (14 carries for 45 yards) and Rainey (six for 21, TD) combined for 66 yards on 21 attempts. The backs did secure three receptions each for a combined 50 yards.
Number-one receiver Vincent Jackson finished with 144 yards on eight catches, including a long of 34 yards that Glennon created after being flushed out of the pocket during the Herron touchdown drive in the fourth. It’s Jackson’s first 100-yard day of the season and 10th as a member of the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay must now prepare for another challenge next week with Baltimore (3-2) coming to town off a 20-13 loss at Indianapolis. The Week 6 matchup will be the Bucs’ last before heading into its bye week.
Sunday’s announced paid attendance at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was 73,004.
Buccaneers reported defensive starters: LE William Gholston, DT Gerald McCoy, DT Clinton McDonald, RE Michael Johnson, SLB Danny Lansanah, MLB Dane Fletcher, WLB Lavonte David, CB Alterraun Verner, CB Johnthan Banks, FS Major Wright and SS Mark Barron.
Buccaneers reported offensive starters: WR Vincent Jackson, LT Anthony Collins, LG Logan Mankins, C Evan Dietrich-Smith, RG Patrick Omameh, RT Demar Dotson, TE Brandon Myers, WR Louis Murphy, QB Mike Glennon, RB Doug Martin and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
The only active Buccaneer that didn’t enter Sunday’s game was backup quarterback Mike Kafka.
Tampa Bay’s inactives were WR Mike Evans, S Dashon Goldson, DE Larry English, G Kadeem Edwards, QB Josh McCown, T Kevin Pamphile and LB Mason Foster.
I’m impressed with the Bucs and I’m mad at them all at the same time! I was impressed with my Bucs today because they played better than I thought they would in hostile New Orleans. When you can make the dome crowd boo their own team, we were doing something right.
I’m mad at them because they played well enough to have me believe that we were going to win and then make just enough errors to kiss the victory goodbye. I think that what Eric means by squander! Mixed emotions are how I would describe it. Making great plays – then committing unnecessary penalties to take them away.
I even started to like the secondary, then one hands to the face penalty happened at the most inconvenient time changed what could have been. But there were other times when I really liked this team and can see the upside in their game. Some bad eggs, some inexperience, and some bad luck did us in today. But alas, I saw good – good things that we can build on.
We get a few hurt people well and Sims, Sefarian-jenkins, and Evans up to speed, this team is going to be dangerous. I see the light. And I think Glennon can be our longterm QB. I’m going to wait on them. I think it’s going to be worth the wait.
Now excuse me while I go try and figure out who we’re going to take with the 3rd pick in the draft! lol
You have PI that leads to the throwing an INT. You have non-sense calls like the tackle not being far enough wiping out first downs (the replay showed the T at the same place he always is). You have a late catch, then fumble which is setup for a huge return, the refs just blow the play dead, don’t review it, then you have the final dagger in overtime, the Bucs stop NO and the refs decide that NO needs another set of downs and makeup another call.
Give me a break PR, stop being so afraid to be called homers that you just gloss over terrible officiating and don’t even mention it. You’re not USA Today, you’re not the paper of record, you’re a site that reports on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and by leaving out obvious information you’re letting your readers down.
Agreed . . .I also thought the Leonard Johnson hands to the face call was pretty questionable as well which along with a few charitable non calls for grounding. But the one that had me livid was the Forced Fumble & return being called dead and not even reviewed. Unbelievable reffing in a bad way
The players played hard and the coaches coached hard but the outcome of this game didn’t come from any particular person. They just kind of…lost. If anything as Cbrady2k said we could certainly pin a lot of this on the refs, but the refs gave us the game last week with all of those “hands to the face” calls on Pittsburgh. Either way we would have won one and lost the other. Over the past 5 years I’ve seen the most bogus calls imaginable called against the Bucs that I’ve never seen before or since. I’m starting to get numb to it and the Bucs have to find a way to win despite the refs having it in for us.
Right now you have to agree we have been competitive in all but one game and we are seeing improvement in this team. This is far better than the Schiano Bucs–you only have to look how poorly we played in this same dome last year. These Bucs are worth watching and they will get a lot better. I now am optimistic on the future.
As biased and petty as the officiating was this game it still doesn’t compare to the “leaping” call against Simeon Rice on the Colts missed field goal attempt in 2003. Never saw that one before or since. Collins was no further back off the line than Dotson and the Saints were lined up the same way. The excessive flags and reviews following scores is dampening the spontaneous excitement when after every good play we all look for a flag. Almost inevitable on kick returns.
The NFL has become a joke.
The Refs have way to many calls that can be made now that are subjective and game changing all at the same time. If I was a crooked Ref, I could literally change the outcome of game just with a few well placed calls.
I say let football games have holding, pass interferance, hands to the face and remove this defenseless reciever call. Let them play.
This morning I have nothing bad to say about my Bucs. Can’t have the penalties and that goes without saying.
It’s probably unfair to lambast the play calling given what has happened to Tedford and Arroyo having to step in on a moments notice. But this is worth mentioning.
See how Drew Brees changed his downfield strategy when he lost Graham. He beat us with short passes to the RBs out of the backfield.
We need to get our RBs into space instead of the 1st down up the gut. The play was called back, but you could see how effective Doug was on the screen pass. We need more variety in the offense. I thought we were going to get that from Tedford when we drafted Sims.
Maybe we’re just a victim of unforeseen circumstances and the loss of Tedford and Sims has set us back more than expected.
Not complaining, just an observation!
Something else I noticed. I don’t know if this is intended or someone is missing a block on extra points.
The guy coming off of our right end (their left side) is unblocked and is within a hair of blocking the extra point each time.
One day this is going to cost us a valuable extra point or field goal if not corrected.
This team needs to learn how to defend a screen pass. They were running all over us with their screens!
The Bucs did a lot of good things, bright spots to give us hope for the future. Quite a moral victory. Oh, by the way I can’t attend, so I am selling my tickets for the Moral Victory Bowl for $1000 apiece if anyone is interested? Well, I doubt that you are, just as I am not interested in moral victories. I am tired of losing and tired of promises. It is just another Bucs year of no playoffs, a draft position higher than we would hope and no franchise QB chosen yet again. Yes there are 11 games left and we could win them all, but really what a waste of a season. It would be quite refreshing to at least not be eliminated from playoff contention until the last quarter of the season, but no, lets take care of business early, so there is no doubt and certainly no hope. I am horribly disappointed in the entire organization. We were fed a pack of lies. I guess it is my fault for being gullible enough to believe their PR bullcrap.
That’s Bucs public relations bullcrap not Pewter Report….
The Bucs are a work in progress, yeah right and if the Bucs were a building, the housing inspectors would condemn them.
and the new uniforms are fugly.
TIRED OF LOSING. Hey Bucs, sometime this decade maybe? I won’t be holding my breath.
As frustrated as I was from this loss I am excited that Glennon played just about as well as any QB out there… Time will tell but if He keeps this up the rest of the Season I would be Happy to have Him as our QB of the Future… Recievers need to catch the freakin ball and these penalties are getting out of control… Even though the Refs were being extremely petty and might have rigged that game there still at plenty of penalties that need to be eliminated on our own… But I was extremely excited about how our Offense was scoring points and how well out Defense was playing 3/4 of the time… We just need to stop the Bleeding from these penalties and if they can do that they can beat any team out there… I still stand firm that if we do nothing else this year but get our system down pat on both sides of the ball and find all of our holes and in turn have a Good Draft and FA in 2015 that we can go all the way possibly staring next year… But there is still a lot of Season left and with the way they are playing anything is possible… And Buctebow if I had the money I would buy your tickets… And if you are gonna give up on our team then please do sell your tickets because We need people in the stands that Love this Team and don’t need any more haters in the stands… So I truly wish you Luck in selling your tickets and definitely Hope that it works out…
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