Buccaneer Shootout Loss Was A Day Of Missed Opportunities
It was exciting, thrilling, nerve-racking and frustrating.
Shake it all up for 60 minutes, roll it out and you have the Buccaneers 35-28 shootout loss Sunday to the New Orleans Saints.
For all intents and purposes, it looked as if it would be 35-all with no time left. On an afternoon where he made big play after big play, Josh Freeman stood in the pocket as time expired in the fourth quarter, saw no receivers open, scrambled to his right, fired and hit Mike Williams for what appeared to be a game-tying touchdown pass.
It wasn’t to be as Williams was pushed out of bounds before he jumped back in, got open and made the catch. Game over, illegal touching.
The play even confused Fox analyst John Lynch, the former Buccaneer safety, who thought it would be a catch despite Williams being pushed out of bounds. “If you’re pushed out, a player can come back in and re-establish himself……” then Lynch stopped in mid-sentence as he saw the penalty flag. The one that would end the game. He had it wrong.
There was so much right and so much wrong for the Bucs in this game. If you had to pick the crucial sequence of events, they came with 7:09 to play in the third quarter when Josh Freeman found Vincent Jackson open and he headed for the Saints end zone. No one was near him. Jackson seemed to run out of gas inside the 20 and he was caught from behind and downed at the Saints one by Malcolm Jenkins, who was at least 20 yards behind Jackson when he made the catch.
No problem, surely the Bucs would simply pound it in from the one. LeGarrette Blount lost one, gained one then gained nothing. On fourth down, Freeman was sent on an ill-fated bootleg play that didn’t work. Instead of a 28-28 game, the Saints put together a drive that went 95 yards in 12 plays and they scored a touchdown to take a 35-21 lead early in the fourth quarter.
It set the table for a Buccaneer comeback that simply fell short.
But the Bucs will look back on too many mistakes and a huge second quarter that saw Drew Brees finish the first half with a career 30 minutes that saw him got 20-for-25 with 313 yards and fourth touchdowns. It was Tampa Bay’s worst 13 minutes of the season and it would put them in a tough situation.
Freeman finished with an incredible day that saw him throw for 415 yards, completing 24-of-42 passes. Jackson hauled in seven of them for a franchise record 216 yards. But Jackson won’t be remembered for the 216, he’ll be remembered for that 217th yard that would have given him the lost touchdown.