TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to be their own worst enemies this season.
The Rams scored two touchdowns off giveaways by Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and took advantage of two missed kicks by Bucs rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo during a 37-32 victory at Raymond James Stadium.
The Bucs defense should shoulder some of the blame for this latest loss as well. Though it finally forced a few takeaways, Mike Smith’s defense continued to struggle in the big play department, giving up several explosives that helped tip this one in Los Angeles favor.
Here’s a quick look at how the Buccaneers lost their home opener and fell to 1-2 on the season
The Buccaneers were in a position to take the lead on a third-and-6 play from the Rams 13 when Rams defensive end Robert Quinn barreled into the Bucs backfield and stripped quarterback Jameis Winston of the ball, forcing a fumble that Ethan Westbrooks picked up and returned 77 yards for a touchdown. That score gave the Rams a 31-20 lead and while the Bucs bounced back to score twice they never recovered from that giveaway.
Moments that mattered
Those struggles that defined Bucs rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo’s preseason have continued into the regular season. After missing a 45-yard field goal try in his last attempt a week ago at Arizona, Aguayo missed his first PAT try against the Rams as well as a 41-yard field goal that would have extended what was then a 20-17 Bucs lead late in the third quarter.
That miss on Aguayo’s first PAT try may have sparked it but on fourth-and-1 from the Rams 16 early in the second quarter, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter decided to go for it. It proved to be the right call. After rolling out to his left, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston hit Mike Evans with a 14-yard pass to the Rams 2 that set up a 1-yard Charles Sims touchdown run that gave the Bucs a 13-10 lead.
Bucs running back Charles Sims is known for his pass catching skills but those skills betrayed him on a soft toss over his head late in the second quarter. Sims bobbled the Jameis Winston throw and when he tipped it into the air, Mark Barron picked it off to set up a 1-yard Todd Gurley touchdown run that cut a Tampa Bay lead to 20-17 just before the half.
When Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston threw his third touchdown passes to Cameron Brate in the fourth quarter on Sunday it gave him seven TD passes through three games this year, the most for a Bucs QB through three games in franchise history.
The Bucs didn’t have a takeaway in either of the first two games. They had two in the first half Sunday and both led to TDs, the first coming on a 38-yard pick-six by linebacker Kwon Alexander, the second a fumble recovery for Chris Conte who picked up a Tavon Austin fumble that was forced by Lavonte David.
Buccaneers center Joe Hawley and Bucs left guard Kevin Pamphile went down within a couple plays of each other in the fourth quarter but both returned. Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans spent some time in the care of the training staff as well.