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On a day where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers honored cornerback Ronde Barber, they couldn’t find a way to hold on to an 18 point halftime lead against the New York Giants. Tampa lost at home in heartbreaking fashion 32-31 and have fallen to 1-2 on the season. So what did we learn about the Buccaneers on Sunday?
1. Mike Evans is still an elite receiver
Through the first two games of the season, the two-time Pro Bowler had 6 catches for 89 yards and he wasn’t a big part of the Tampa Bay offense. After the first quarter on Sunday, Evans proved once again why he’s one of the best in the game.
In the opening quarter, Evans caught a pass in traffic, one on a good route, a touchdown catch on a fade route and added another touchdown on a screen pass. Evans had 7 catches for 146 yards in the first half and even added a third touchdown catch.
But his next and last catch was a 44 yarder in double coverage to see up Matt Gay’s game winning field goal attempt. Evans finished the day with 8 catches for 190 yards and three touchdowns. This his second highest yardage game of his career.
2. The kicking situation might need to addressed again
Tampa Bay fans had flashbacks of previous kicking failures on Sunday. Rookie kicker Matt Gay missed two extra points and the game-winning 34 yard field goal attempt. Even though he made his other four field goal attempts from 47, 27, 53 and 29 yards, he missed the most important kicks of the game.
Head coach Bruce Arians and company received an delay of game penalty to push the final field goal attempt back by five yards. The attempt was still right around the same distance as an extra point.
3. The pass defense couldn’t match the run defense
For the opening ten quarters of the season, new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ defense had been thriving on success especially in stopping the run. Going into the game, Tampa was third in the NFL in run defense. The Giants entered the game with star running back Saquon Barkley rushing for over 100 yards in each of the Giants opening two games.
Barkley, who left the game early with a serious ankle injury, was held to 10 yards on eight carries. The Giants leading rusher on the day was quarterback Daniel Jones, who had 28 yards rushing on four carries. However, two of those carries ended up being touchdowns.
The first one was on read option late in the first half. The second one was the back-breaker as he scored on a broken play. Jones was able to run up the middle and was not touched as he scored on fourth down with under a minute to go in the game.
But the real problem for the second week in a row has been the pass defense. They didn’t have an issue with getting to Jones. He was sacked 5 times in the game, including four times by Shaq Lawson.
Lawson set the team record for the most sacks in the opening three games in team history. His eight sacks have surpassed Warren Sapp (5.5 sacks) for the best start. He also became the first player in franchise history to have back-to-back three or more individual sack games.
After holding George Kittle and the San Francisco 49ers to 166 yards passing in week one, the Buccaneers pass defense has allowed receivers to get open and they have made Tampa pay.
On Sunday, the Giants had three players gain 80 or receiving yards and two of them (Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram) had over 100 yards. Tampa has allowed six different players to gain 80 or more yards receiving in the last eight quarters of football.
The loss puts the Buccaneers at 1-2 on the season and they will travel across the country to take on the undefeated Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. Even though the Carolina Panthers game is considered as a home game (the game will be played in London), the next true home game won’t be until November. On November 10th, Tampa will host the Arizona Cardinals.