The Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered Week-8 of the NFL season with a chance to get above .500 again if they could beat the Cincinnati Bengals on the road.
The Bucs won the toss, giving Cincinnati the ball to start the game, and after the Bengals moved the ball quickly into Bucs territory, it looked as if they’d easily come away with points, but they decided to go for it on 4th-and-1, and a great play by Jordan Whitehead gave the ball to the Bucs.
The Tampa Bay offense got off to a solid start, including a fourth-down conversion of their own, but when they got into the red zone, Jameis Winston threw one of the uglier interceptions of his career, missing Mike Evans badly and getting picked in the end zone.
The Bengals third drive wouldn’t go so well for the Bucs as Cincinnati again moved the ball quickly into Bucs territory, and a play after a big play from Andy Dalton to Tyler Boyd, Joe Mixon punched it in from a yard out to put the Bengals ahead 7-0 late in the first quarter.
The Bucs next drive was capped by another atrocious interception from Winston who looked like a guy who had zero confidence.
Another lackluster Bucs drive later and the Bengals were back at it again. It wouldn’t take long to show that Mark Duffner’s defense wouldn’t look as good as it did against Cleveland Browns rookie starter Baker Mayfield, as Dalton carved up the Bucs defense again before Mixon ran in his second touchdown of the day from just inside the 10 to put the Bengals ahead 21-0 on a day where the Bucs look as inept as they did in Chicago.
Winston and the Bucs finally found something to be positive about on the following drive as the Bucs quarterback found Desean Jackson (who some reported has requested a trade) behind the defense for a 60-yard touchdown pass to pull the Bucs wo within to touchdowns at 21-6 after Chandler Catanzaro came in and missed yet another extra point.
Moments later it was the Bengals kicker missing an extra point after Mixon continued to torch the Bucs to put Cincinnati back in scoring position before Dalton found A.J. Green over Carlton Davis (who actually had good coverage) for a score to put the Bengals back up three scores at 27-6.
The Bucs were able to move the ball deep into Bengals territory on the final drive of the half after the kick off went out of bounds creating very good field position, but they had to settle for a field goal, making the score 27-9 heading into the half.
The Bucs would start the second half with the football, and Adam Humphries put the team in position to score after a huge catch, and a catch and broken tackles looked like a Buccaneers score, but after Humphries was marked down at the 1-yard-line, it was Peyton Barber who jumped over the line from a yard out to pull the Bucs to within 11 points at 27-16 after Catanzaro just snuck the extra point inside the upright.
After a big stop by the Bucs defense which gave Winston and the offense an opportunity to make it a one-score game, Winston once again threw an awful interception.
The Bucs defense once again made a play and forced a punt, but when Winston was forced to try and navigate a 90-yard drive, Winston threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown, and the team turned to Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick went 3-for-3 after being inserted into the game, but the offense once again settle for a field goal, although they did make it a two-score game at 34-19.
After another stop for the Bucs defense, Fitzpatrick found a little more FitzMagic, and Mike Evans for a 72-yard touchdown, and after the Catanzaro extra point, the Bucs were to within eight points at 34-26.
It looked like the Bengals might just run the clock out, but some poor decisions by Cincinnati actually gave the ball back to Tampa Bay with over two minutes left. Then, the FitzMagic returned in all its full glory, as Fitzpatrick led the Bucs down the field and tied the game up with a touchdown pass to O.J. Howard, and 2-point conversion to Chris Godwin to tie it up at 34-34.
Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, the defense couldn’t hold up its end of the bargain, and Dalton was able to drive the ball to the Bucs 26-yard line to set up Randy Bullock for the game-winning field goal, and Cincinnati walked away with the victory 37-34 as time expired.