By: Garrett Ballard
The Cincinnati Bengals beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34-23 on Sunday afternoon. The Buccaneers were in control of the game in the first half but blew a 17-3 lead after five straight turnovers.
The Bengals scored on four straight possessions because of turnovers but never had to move the ball more than 40 yards to score on each of those drives. A botched fake punt, two interceptions, and two fumbles allowed the Bengals to come back from 14 points down, to 10 points up.
“It was a tail of two halves,” head coach Todd Bowles said. “The half we played in the 2nd half was Bucs versus Bucs.”
The Buccaneers outgained the Bengals by over 150 yards, had more first downs, and held the ball for more time, but still lost by two scores. The one area of the game they couldn’t win was the turnover margin, and that proved to be the deciding factor. This collapse by the Buccaneers is the cap on a truly poor season. With three games left, the Bucs are seemingly getting worse.
The first half of the game was in the Bucs’ favor, however. Brady was finding all his best receivers and they playing aggressive football. The team went for, and converted multiple fourth downs and were using play action more than they have at any point this season. This was a total second-half collapse that pushed the Bucs to another frustrating loss.
“We had a good first half and were in good position,” Tom Brady said. “We literally just, you know, gave them the ball.”
Despite the loss, the Buccaneers are still in sole control of the NFC South. The Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons are both one win behind the Buccaneers in the standings and each play the Bucs in the coming weeks.
With one head-to-head win against the Bucs already, the Panthers seem to be in the best position to catapult themselves into the playoffs. In three weeks’ time, the Bucs will either be getting ready for the playoffs or vying for a top-15 draft pick.