After a blown 17-0 lead, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady repeatedly harped on the importance of avoiding turnovers in his brief press conference after a 34-23 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
“We literally just gave them the ball. You can’t win football games like that,” Brady told the media in the first of at least three statements where brought up the turnovers.
Brady’s 89-0 record when leading by 17 points or more at home also came to an end, per the CBS broadcast. He couldn’t come up with any fourth-quarter heroics this time, which he did in the last two home games against the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints.
“All of these games are individual games, and today was five turnovers,” Brady said though the Giovani Bernard fumble didn’t count as a turnover because of his recovery.
Things previously clicked for Brady and the offense before a nightmarish second half. Brady led the Bucs to a field goal on the team’s first drive of the game, and he threw a pair of touchdown passes in the second quarter. Brady connected with wide receiver Russell Gage on a 1-yard touchdown, and then Brady found wide receiver Chris Godwin on a 5-yard touchdown, which capped a 17-0 lead.
“We played good. I think we had the ability to play good. I don’t think we lack confidence in playing good. It’s just consistency,” Brady said. “Two good quarters doesn’t win you any football games, and five turnovers doesn’t win you any football games.”
Bucs Unravel Amid Mistakes
Bernard‘s fumble a fake punt at his team’s 25-yard line fortunately only led to just a Bengals field goal, but the Bucs couldn’t get out of that side of the field for the rest of the third quarter. Cincinnati pounced on ensuing Bucs mistakes for another 31 unanswered points.
“They’re a good offense,” Brady said. “They took advantage.”
Brady threw an interception, botched a handoff to running back Leonard Fournette, and the defense committed penalties amid the Bengals’ run. Brady threw another interception in the fourth quarter, but the Bucs defense held serve with defensive back Carlton Davis III breaking up a pass to Bengals star wideout Ja’Marr Chase.
Davis contained Chase early on, but Chase’s 8-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter served as a microcosm of what happened with the Bucs defense. The unit that allowed only three points in the first half couldn’t overcome a mountain of mistakes in the second half.
It capped the worst day of turnovers for Brady since 2011, according to the CBS broadcast. He accounted for four turnovers — two interceptions and two fumbles, including the botched handoff.
Bucs Still in First Place
Despite the second-half flop, the Bucs (6-8) remain in first place for the NFC South Division. Saints (5-9) dropped the Atlanta Falcons to 5-9 in a 21-18 win, and the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8) sent the Carolina Panthers to 5-9 in a 24-16 win.
Tampa Bay’s remaining schedule consists of the Falcons and Panthers, but the Bucs face a stumbling Arizona Cardinals squad (4-10) on the road next.
“We’ve got a huge game coming up,” Brady said. “I know we keep saying it, but it’s the reality. Gotta go make it better.”