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Rapid recap – Patriots outlast Bucs 19-14

Roy Cummings

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Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire

TAMPA – A battered defense made just enough plays to give the Buccaneers a chance to beat the Patriots at Raymond James Stadium on Thursday night but the Tampa Bay offense failed repeatedly to take advantage in what proved to be a 19-14 Patriots victory.

The Bucs won the takeaway battle, getting a first-quarter interception from rookie safety Justin Evans and a fumble recovery from reserve defensive tackle Will Clarke, but they failed to turn either into points on a night when the Bucs kicking woes only got worse.

Less than a year removed from the nightmare that was Roberto Aguayo, the Bucs continued to get similar results from veteran replacement Nick Folk, who missed field goal tries of 31, 49 and 55 yards just three days after he left seven points on the field during a 25-23 victory over the Giants.

The Bucs offense got a boost from the return of running back Doug Martin, who ran 13 times for 74 yards and the team’s lone touchdown, but the Bucs were just 2-for-11 on third down and struggled throughout the night to maintain continuity and move the ball.

Against a Patriots defense that came into the game allowing 457 yards per game, the Bucs didn’t surpass the 200-yard marker until the fourth quarter, when quarterback Jameis Winston connected on a 41-yard pass to DeSean Jackson.

That gain helped the Bucs move deep into Patriots territory while trailing 16-7 but Folk’s third miss of the night prevented the Bucs from cutting their deficit to one score and may have spelled the end of Folk’s tenure with the team.

The Bucs eventually cut the deficit back to one score one possession later on an 18-yard Jameis Winston touchdown pass to tight end Cameron Brate but the Bucs failed to cover the on-side kick and the Patriots ran down the clock.

Martin did early on in his comeback exactly what the Bucs hoped he would. He gave their offense a boost, particularly during the Bucs first drive of the second quarter.

Martin ran six times for 48 yards during that drive, including twice for the final 10 yards of the drive to give the Bucs a 7-3 lead on a 1-yard dive into the end for his first touchdown.

The Bucs gave that lead up on the Patriots next possession, which ended with Brady hitting Chris Hogan with this 7-yard touchdown pass in front of Vernon Hargreaves with 3:42 left in the half:

The Patriots tacked on a field goal to finish the first-half scoring, but the Bucs no doubt considered that a win after a 40-yard Danny Amendola punt return and a penalty set the Patriots up at the Bucs 27-yard line.

That win was part of a solid defensive effort overall in which the Bucs recorded a pair of sacks and scored a key pressure on a third-and-5 play at their own 9 to force a field goal late in the first quarter.

The Bucs strong defensive effort continued into the second half when two straight pass breakups, one by rookie Justin Evans and one by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, forced the Patriots to settle for 45-yard field goal at the end of their first possession.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Peter King- “Bridgewater to Tampa Bay makes sense”

Florida Football Insiders

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Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the start of another week, and speculation about “quarterback musical chairs” in NFL free agency continues. And a prominent NFL media member believes that current Saints backup Teddy Bridgewater might leave New Orleans and he sees a possible fit with the Buccaneers.

Peter King, now with Pro Football Talk, gave analysis on numerous quarterback situations and potential free agents to be in his Monday morning column. And, while he is not reporting that the Saints will allow Bridgewater to be a free agent and/or that the Buccaneers would be his destination, he does lay out a solid case for a marriage between the two:

Obviously, the Saints must first decide what to do with veteran Hall of Famer to be, Drew Brees, who is slated to become a free agent and cannot be franchise tagged. And, Bridgewater more than acquitted himself a year ago coming off the bench, when Brees was out with a fractured thumb. That included a four-touchdown performance in October in a a win at home against Tampa Bay.

King wrote in part, these thoughts Monday,

Teddy Bridgewater: Tampa Bay makes sense

I can hear it now: Bridgewater doesn’t have the deep arm Bruce Arians needs. I would dispute that. When Arians put Carson Palmer in the pilot’s chair in Arizona, his previous NFL yards per attempt in Cincinnati and Oakland was 7.2. Bridgewater’s career NFL yards per attempt: 7.2.

…..I noticed something with Arians this season. He defended almost every (Jameis) Winston miscue for the first three months of the season. In December, though, that changed. Tampa was 7-7 entering the last two games, both at home. In game 15, against Houston, Winston threw interceptions on two of the first five Buc snaps, and Tampa was down 10-0 after four minutes.

The Bucs lost by three. Next week: Overtime against Atlanta. First play, Winston somehow didn’t see lurker linebacker Deion Jones on tight end Cameron Brate. Pick six. “It smells as bad as it could possible smell,” Arians said after the game. The Bucs had a clear path to a redemptive 9-7 seasons, but six interceptions in the last two weeks ruined that. 

….. This is the story about Bridgewater I appreciate: After Drew Brees was lost with a hand injury in Week 2 and Bridgewater took over, Bridgewater hosted a dinner in Seattle—site of the next game—for all the offensive players, basically to say, All is not lost. We’ll be fine. Minus Brees, the Bridgewater-led Saints went 5-0.

Maybe the Bucs will think Winston deserves another chance with Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. But I won’t be surprised if they go after Bridgewater or Ryan Tannehill, the best free-agent quarterbacks on the market.”

Definitely a compelling argument, but, again, it still has to play out as to whether the Saints don’t re-sign Bridgewater and how, interested are the Bucs vs. other potential teams when the free agency mayhem begins?

As for Tampa Bay are obviously trying to decide what to do with their own free agent-to-be, Winston. As we wrote late last week, coach Bruce Arians remained non-committal on whether to bring back their starter of the last five seasons. This is mainly due to Winston’s inconsistent play, numerous interceptions and the fact the Bucs have had only had one winning season in his five years at the helm.

It this type of  “connect the dots” free agency talk will only continue to build until either Tampa Bay commits to Winston or free agency begins without the Bucs having signed Winston to a long term deal or given him the one year franchise tag. The clearest of indications that they’ve moved on and want a new QB.

And, everyone continues to wait on those decisions.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL analyst- Bucs DE Shaq Barrett top player in free agency

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off an amazing first season with the Bucs, defensive end Shaq Barrett is in line for a huge payday. And, a respected NFL analyst says Tampa Bay better be ready to pay, because he believes Barrett is the top free agent upcoming for the entire NFL.

Brian Baldinger, a former 12 year player and now analyst with the NFL Network, posted on social media Saturday evening what he loves about Barrett’s pass-rushing skills and then made his declaration:

There is no exaggerating that Barrett surpassed anyone’s expectations off of a one-year, modest free agent signing from the Broncos by Bucs GM Jason Licht. His four sack game in week 2 against Carolina put the entire NFL on notice.

And, Barrett continued to be a dominant pass rush force for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles the entire season. He ultimately broke Tampa Bay’s single season sack record held by Hall of Famer Warren Sapp in the final game of the season. Barrett finished with 19.5 sacks, which led the NFL.

Now, the Bucs and Licht have to decide whether they’re going to give Barrett a massive contract or perhaps, entertained putting the “franchise tag” on him to ensure that he’s one of the top five paid defensive ends in football. If Licht and the Bucs choose to do that, Barrett will be making in the neighborhood of $18-20 million per year.

One concern for the Buccaneers is that Barrett’s breakout 2019 with the 19.5 sacks is more than he had in his previous five years in Denver combined. So, naturally, there is some skepticism that he will be able to produce at that high of a level for multiple years.

Still, it’s going to take that kind average per year deal to keep him from being available via free agency for someone else to sign. And, a further benefit to the franchise tag is at the Buccaneers could always reach a long-term agreement later this off season after tagging Barrett, too.

Now, we wait to see what Tampa Bay can get done.

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