The Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered Week-7 of the NFL season having lost three in a row after winning their first two games with the Cleveland Browns and first-overall pick Baker Mayfield in town.
The Bucs defense was led by Mark Duffner who took over for fired Mike Smith as the team’s defensive coordinator. The Browns had the ball first, but the Bucs defense came up with a stop when Jason Pierre-Paul recorded a sack on third down.
The Browns punt pinned the Bucs down at their 1-yard-line, and two plays later after what looked like a safety on a first down run, Peyton Barber was clearly tackled in the end zone on second down, and the Browns went ahead with a 2-0 lead.
After the Bucs defense forced what’s been a rare 3-and-out on the Browns following drive, Jameis Winston led the Bucs offense into Cleveland territory, but the drive eventually stalled, and Chandler Catanzaro came in to connect on a 38-yard field goal to put the Bucs ahead 3-2.
Another Bucs stop later, and the offense was marching down the field again until Desean Jackson took the ball on an end around from 14-yard-line into the end zone for a Buccaneers touchdown. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Catanzaro came out and missed the extra point. It’s the kicker’s third missed extra point this season after being perfect on the point after a season ago.
Once again, the defense was up to task when the Browns took over, and before long Winston and the offense was back on the field, and back in Browns territory. After a Peyton Barber touchdown carry was taken away by a holding call on Evan Smith, Winston took off on a scramble, and the Bucs had their second 14-yard touchdown run of the game, moving ahead 16-2 after Catanzaro connected on this extra point.
On the next Bucs drive, Cam Brate caught a Winston pass and fumbled the ball back to Cleveland deep in Bucs territory, but the Browns eventually went for it on 4th-and-2 despite being in field goal position, and the Bucs came up with a stop, and the game went into halftime at 16-2.
The Buccaneers would start the second half with the football, but it wouldn’t last long as Winston was before being able to release a pass causing a fumble that was recovered by Cleveland. A couple plays later it was Baker Mayfield finding David Njoku for a touchdown to cut the lead to a touchdown just moments into the second half.
The Bucs second drive of the second half looked promising as they drove the ball into scoring territory, but a couple penalties later they were in a hole they couldn’t dig out of, and they ended up punting the ball from the Cleveland 43. A good punt pinned the Browns deep in their own territory as they’d start their next drive at their own 8-yard-line.
The Bucs were able to keep Cleveland from moving the ball much, and the offense would come on the field with 73 yards to cover if they wanted to add more than another field goal to their lead. 71 yards later it was Ronald Jones punching the ball in from two yards out for his first career touchdown, and the first touchdown by a Buccaneers running back in 2018, as Tampa Bay pushed the lead to 23-9 with just seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The Browns wouldn’t go away easy however, and drove 75 yards in seven plays in just over three minutes to cut the lead to seven when Nick Chubb punched it in from a yard out to make it 23-16 with just over twelve minutes remaining.
A Bucs punt later, and the Browns were driving the field with a chance to tie the game up, and before you knew it they were on the doorstep of tying the game up when the Bucs defense held up on 4th-and-goal, and the Bucs offense took over at the 1-yard-line with just over five minutes to play.
The Browns defense held the Bucs to 3-and-out, coming up with a big sack of Winston on third down. A short Brian Anger punt later, and a big return from Jabrill Peppers, and the Browns had a 1st-and-10 at the Buccaneers 16-yard-line. Mayfield found Jarvis Landry on the very next play and Landry slid into the end zone after being untouched making a diving catch, and the game was tied 23-23 with 2:28 remaining in the game.
Winston and the offense would have their chance to win the game on regulation’s final possession, and they would move the ball deep into Browns territory in the game’s final minute. With four seconds remaining on the game clock, the Bucs sent Catanzaro out to attempt a 40-yard game winning field goal, and Catanzaro missed it again, sending the game to overtime.
The Browns possessed the ball first in the overtime period but were unable to put points on the board, so Winston and the Bucs offense would have another chance to end the game with a victory. However Winston would throw a ball over the middle right to Browns linebacker Jamie Collins.
The Bucs defense came up huge, as a third down sack by Carl Nassib (his second of the game) ended any chance of Cleveland attempting a field goal. Jameis and the Bucs offense would again have a chance to come away with a win. A quick 3-and-out later, Anger was on the field to punt again.
Peppers was in the process of another impressive return, but while trying to break tackles, Anthony Auclair made a great play to strip the ball, and the ball was recovered by Isaiah Johnson, and the Bucs took over near midfield.
After both teams failed to do anything on drives, the Bucs were once again trying to put the game away, and when it looked completely improbable, Dirk Koetter sent Catanzaro out for a 59-yard field goal attempt which the Bucs kicker shocked everyone in the stadium by making his toughest kick of the season, giving the Bucs the 26-23 overtime victory!