TAMPA, FL – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Cincinnati Bengals 34-23 in what was another troubling performance for Tampa.
After opening the game and building a 17 point lead, the Buccaneers were brought to a halt.
Maybe it was Tom Brady’s comment on his “Let’s Go!” podcast that the Bengals had a “fairly tough” defense that lit a fire under Cincinnati, but, with the Buc’s help, they shut Tampa down.
The Bengals ran off 34 straight points on Sunday, and forced four turnovers, three by Brady.
“Hearing that from an old, savvy vet from him, we’re a ‘fairly tough defense,’ with four turnovers, what would you say — tough as nails?” Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt said after the game.
In the beginning of the game, Brady’s statement proved to be true, with Bengals QB Joe Burrow struggling, throwing and interception on it’s first drive, and the defense surrendering 261 yards in the first half.
They were able to came on the final drive of the half and play went up-tempo to produce a field goal to cut the Buccaneers’ lead to 17-3.
Things began to spiral out of control for the Bucs in the second half.
A botched fake punt gave the Bengals the ball deep in Tampa Bay’s territory. Starting with cornerback Tre Flowers’ interception on the ensuing Buccaneers drive, Brady and the offense committed four straight turnovers. Two fumbles and another interception allowed Cincinnati to start four straight possessions on Tampa Bay’s side of the field.
“The two fumbles were my fault — it was uncharacteristic,” said Brady, who added that one of the interceptions was a bad throw and the other came on a quarterback hit.
Bucs coach Todd Bowles defended the decision to go for a fake punt with the team up 17-3.
“It was fourth-and-1. They had a front that we could take advantage of and we blocked well — we could have ran for 4 or 5 yards — we missed the ball,” he said.
It’s like the fake punt pushed a button that turned on chaos in the Tampa psyche.
The struggling Bengals offense was able to take full advantage of the great field position and took the lead with 2:40 left in the third quarter.
Brady wound up goin 30 for 44 for 312 yards and 2 interceptions the game. the team rushed a putrid 25 times for 92 yards total.
“We’re never out of it,” Burrow said. “We’ve been in these situations before and we always come back and make it a game. Today, we were able to come back and really put them away there in the second half.”
The words that Brady spoke definitely echoed in the Bengals Licker room. “The Future is now, old man” is what cornerback Eli Apple shouted as he headed into the tunnel.
The Buccaneers are still in first place in the NFC South with a 6-8 record. They face off against the Arizona Cardinals on Christmas Day in Arizona.