Hold on tight, this one is going to be one heck of a ride Buccaneers’ fans.
So, the Atlanta Falcons had three turnovers on Sunday afternoon, and they all came in the red zone. Two of them came inside the one-yard line. And they were all fumbles by Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder (absurd, considering Ridder’s three-interception performance last week against the Commanders).
This week, it seemed the 24-year-old was trying to push the boundary on how close he could get to scoring before fumbling. His last one went out of bounds in the end zone, resulting in a touchback for the Bucs.
And the Falcons won the game 16-13.
Ridder was just the start of the silliness in the contest between NFC South rivals. There were a whopping 18 penalties committed total (nine by each team, three of them coming on a three-play Bucs drive in the first half). Bucs QB Baker Mayfield threw a horrid interception inside the red zone at the end of the fourth quarter when the Bucs were down by three, then had a 31-yard rush on a 3rd-and-10 that led to a game-tying field goal with under two minutes to go in the game after the Bucs defense got a stop. And yet, Tampa Bay lost on a game-winning 53-yard field goal by Atlanta kicker Younghoe Koo after the Falcons got down to the Bucs 33 largely via a 39-yard gain reception by Kyle Pitts.
Phew. I know that was a tiring string of run-on sentences. I was exhausted just watching the game (of course, I was doing a fantasy basketball auction draft during the game and had to walk over a mile to and from my parking spot at the Holiday Inn off Dale Mabry).
But, it was still a really weird, whimsical game filled with strange penalties (more false starts than I can count), so it was fun to watch from an entertainment perspective simply because both teams seemed so determined to give the other the victory.
As a Bucs fan though, it was an incredibly miserable experience.
The offense was lifeless—mostly due to its horrendous running game, which ran for just over 40 yards if you take out Baker’s 31-yard scramble—and was 100% was reason the Bucs lost this game.
If you want to focus on the defense giving up that last-second field goal, sure, go ahead, it was ugly.
Allowing Ridder to lead a game-winning drive after he gifts you three red zone fumbles is a putrid look. But it would be letting a Bucs offense that might end up with a consecutive last-place finish in rushing off the hook.
I am concerned my pre-season prediction of the Bucs going 5-12 might be closer to the optimism this team instilled in many Buccaneers fans by starting out 3-1. Of course, this is one game, and there’s still a whole lot of football to be played.
Hopefully Tampa can turn it around and get back to form against their inferior NFC South opponents to finish out the year.
Because these past couple weeks, it was very much a Bucs life.