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Another game, another loss for the Buccaneers. This time in a very important divisional game against the Carolina Panthers. A win would have put the Bucs right back in the playoff hunt.
However, Tampa Bay got totally embarrassed in the first half. Fitzpatrick did not play well and simply overshot Mike Evans, which lead to an easy interception for the Panthers early in the game.
The defense looked completely out of sync, as usual. The biggest problem in this game was missed tackles, possibly combined with a lack of motivation. Tampa Bay’s defense was unable to force a turnover once again. The humiliation for the Bucs reached its climax when Koetter tried a fake punt deep in Bucs territory in the first half. Needless to say, they did not convert and the Panthers capitalized with a score of their own.
Fitzpatrick played better in the second half. In total he threw for 4 scores and 2 interceptions. His performance was good enough to make Koetter announce him the starting quarterback for next week without hesitation. Peyton Barber failed to average 3 yards per carry on 11 attempts.
Mike Evans had his worst outing of the season, as he made only 1 reception for 13 yards. He was targeted 10 times, however. DeSean did not fare much better with 2 catches for 32 yards. Adam Humphries had a monster game with 8 catches for 82 yards and two touchdowns. OJ Howard scored the other two and could become a real stud at the tight end position. He is a matchup nightmare for opposing teams, especially if covered by a linebacker.
The loss puts the Buccaneers’ record at 3-5 and leaves a lot of question marks for the future of the franchise.
Next up is a home game against the Washington Redskins.