GLENDALE, AZ. – The Buccaneers had a chance to make history on Sunday. They were in a position to become the first Bucs team to ever start a season 2-0 on the road.
Instead they further added to their long legacy of losing.
Three first-half giveaways and some key Buccaneers injuries helped the Cardinals build a 24-point first-half lead en route to claiming a 40-7 victory at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The good news: at 1-1 the Bucs still hold a share of first place in the NFC South. They won’t hold it for long, though, if they keep playing the way they did on Sunday. Here’s an instant analysis of what went wrong.
The Bucs were only down 10-0 at the time, so they were still in a position to make a game of it when they got the ball back with 5:23 remaining in the first half. They squandered the opportunity five plays into the drive, though, when quarterback Jameis Winston bumped running back Charles Sims and fumbled the ball away while raising his arm to throw with 3:12 left on the clock. The Cardinals used that takeaway to mount a quick touchdown drive, then produced another touchdown drive after a three-and-out by the Bucs to take a 24-0 halftime lead.
Moments that mattered
Chris Conte saved a pair of touchdowns during the Bucs Week 1 victory over the Falcons, twice chasing down pass catchers on plays that eventually forced the Falcons to settle for field goals. Conte didn’t save much of anything this Sunday. He blew a coverage in the back of the end zone on the 1-yard pass to Michael Floyd that gave the Cardinals their 17-0 lead and then let Jaron Brown get behind him for the 51-yard touchdown pass that made it a 24-0 game.
Rookie defensive end Noah Spence recorded his first career sack in the third quarter. It was probably the first of many for the second-round draft pick out of Eastern Kentucky. Meanwhile, rookie K Roberto Aguayo missed wide right on a 45-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter. The Bucs can only hope it’s not the first of many for the fellow second-round draft pick out of Florida State.
It’s a long one, but it’s not the quantity of players that matters, it’s the quality. The Bucs lost tight end Luke Stocker (ankle) before the first quarter ended, lost running back Doug Martin (hamstring) shortly after the second quarter started and lost defensive end Robert Ayers (ankle) before first half ended. In the second half they lost wide receiver Cecil Shorts to a hamstring injury.