Buccaneers Allow Falcons To Clinch NFC South
With the Atlanta Falcons defeating the Carolina Panthers minutes before kickoff, the Buccaneers knew they would have to defeat the New Orleans Saints, and sweep them on the season, to have a chance at the division.
Unfortunately, for the second week in a row, turnovers led to Tampa Bay’s demise, allowing the Falcons to clinch the NFC South title.
Jameis Winston, who threw multiple touchdowns to tie the team record with 27 on a season, also threw two interceptions for the second consecutive week, his first time doing so in his career.
The first came on the opening series of the second half, two plays into a drive that began on the Buccaneers four-yard line after a muffed punt by Josh Huff.
It was immediately answered by a 14-yard touchdown run by Mark Ingram, his second score of the game, to separate the game by 13 points. A deficit the Buccaneers wouldn’t recover from as ended up losing by seven points, 31-24, and dropped a second straight contest on the heels of a five-game winning streak.
Tampa Bay just didn’t have enough firepower to combat Drew Brees, who threw for 299 yards and a touchdown.
Even with Doug Martin held out in favor of Jacquizz Rodgers, a move made to try to recapture the success Rodgers had earlier in the season, the run game failed to crack the 100-yard mark for the ninth time this season.
The Buccaneers will wrap up the regular season at home next week, hosting the Panthers on New Year’s Day. Though their playoff hopes remain alive, they look rather slim.
Tampa Bay will now need to defeat Carolina as well as for Detroit to lose each of their final two matchups and Washington to lose their finale in order to capture the second wild card.
But this one is in the books. Another game the Buccaneers let slip away. And potentially another season without a playoff appearance, which would be their 10th in a row.