The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might take awhile to recover from this loss.
After storming back from a 21-point deficit late in the third quarter to tie the game at 27-all with 42 seconds remaining in the game, the Buccaneers’ comeback bid came up just short versus the Los Angeles Rams. Following Matthew Stafford’s 44-yard completion to Cooper Kupp, the Rams kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired.
With the Buccaneers’ season officially over, head coach Bruce Arians opened up his postgame presser with some blunt commentary on the loss.
“The finality of this game’s a b****,” said Arians. “That locker room of guys have been through and hell and back this year. And I love them. They stuck together through all of the injuries and everything else. Really, really proud of the comeback. Not the finish.”
Despite being outplayed for the majority of the game, the Bucs were allowed second chances due to numerous fumbles by the Rams over the course of the game.
Rams running back Cam Akers fumbled not just once — but twice. Akers fumbled the ball the first time near the goal line with Los Angeles threatening to go up 27-3 before halftime. He fumbled the second time with the Rams trying to run the clock out as they were up 27-20 with just over two minutes remaining.
Over the course of the last 19 minutes of the game, the Buccaneers managed to score 21 unanswered points. However, the Rams had one last offensive drive at the end of regulation and made the biggest play of the game on Stafford’s deep pass to Kupp. The Bucs curiously called an all-out blitz on the play, leading to the big completion.
Arians Addresses Bucs’ Defensive Miscue
Arians addressed the Buccaneers’ defensive meltdown at the end, which seemed like a miscommunication.
“Bucs decided to blitz Matt Stafford and Bruce Arians said it wasn’t communicated to all the defensive players,” says Stroud. “Resulted in a coverage bust in Cooper Kupp and a 40 yard pass play. Arians said you can second guess that if you want.”
Greg Auman of The Athletic went into further detail on Arians and linebacker Lavonte David’s explanation on the broken-down play.
“Lots to go back through, but Arians and David both said problem on long pass play in final minute was that not all the players understood the blitz in place, so they didn’t get to QB as quickly, allowing time to throw deep ball to Kupp to set up game-winning field goal,” says Auman.
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Tony Dungy Questions Bucs’ Decision
NBC Sports analyst and former Bucs head coach Tony Dungy also questioned why Tampa Bay called an all-out blitz when the Rams had no timeouts left.
“I didn’t understand that last defensive call by the Bucs.,” said Dungy on Twitter. “All out blitz??? Why not just sit back let them complete a 15 yd pass in bounds and the game would go to overtime. I don’t understand???!”
The Buccaneers could have allowed any pass underneath — without blitzing — and time would have likely ran off before the Rams could have had an opportunity at a legitimate field goal attempt.
Tampa Bay will have to think long and hard about this loss after nearly overcoming a 24-point deficit.