The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got their preseason started Friday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bucs won the coin toss and elected to receive the football and get their offense on the field to start the preseason.
After a Bucs penalty, the drive started at their own six-yard line. It was just two Mike Evans receptions and a Doug Martin run before the Bucs were across midfield. A couple plays later it was Jameis Winston finding Cam Brate and the Bucs first offensive possession found them in the red zone.
A very promising drive stalled inside the 10, and the Bucs brought Roberto Aguayo in for the go ahead 20-yard field goal.
The Bengals offense looked sharp during their first possession, knifing through the Buccaneers defense just as the Bucs had done to them. The Bengals drive ended abruptly however as Bucs second-year corner Vernon Hargreaves picked off an Andy Dalton pass at the one-yard-line, giving the ball back to Winston and the offense.
After a second Bucs drive stretched into the second quarter, it eventually stalled when Mike Evans attempted to one hand a Winston pass on 3rd-and-2. The Bengals next drive started well again as Joe Mixon had a pair of strong plays, including one reception where he picked up extra yardage thanks to a missed tackle by rookie safety Justin Evans.
After 54-yard Randy Bullock field goal tied the game up for Cincinnati, the Buccaneers offense came back on the field and once again moved the ball well. This time, with Ryan Fitzpatrick who even had two carries for 15 yards including a 9-yard touchdown carry! The only problem came after the touchdown when Roberto Aguayo came in and missed the extra point. This isn’t exactly what Roberto needed.
The Bengals had enough time for one more solid drive and hit another field goal, this time a 45-yarder from rookie Jake Elliot. Neither team could get much going in the final minute of the half and the Bucs headed into halftime with a 9-6 lead.
The Bengals got the ball to start the second half and once again moved the ball right down the field, with third string quarterback Jeff Driskel taking a run off the left side and running it in for a touchdown.
The Bucs started the second half with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback again, despite the fact he had been replaced by Ryan Griffin in the first half. Fitzpatrick lead the offense into field goal range and Nick Folk came in and hit a 45-yard attempt to bring the score to 13-12.
The next drive continued the trend of the Bengals moving the football against a Bucs defense that wasn’t sharp despite not giving up a lot of points. Driskel had another big run, and picked up a first down with his feet to move the ball inside the red zone. With just under a minute remaining in the third Driskel hit wide receiver Josh Malone.
The Bucs went back to Griffin for their next drive, and he was moving the ball down the field with the help of a great Bernard Reedy catch and an 11-yard Jeremy McNichols run, but he was pulled from the game by the officials who wanted him checked for a concussion. Freddy Martino helped slow the drive down with his third drop of the game, and the drive stalled when Fitzpatrick had to throw the ball away on third-and-10. The Bucs were forced to punt the ball back to Cincinnati with just over 13 minutes remaining in the game.
After a Bucs stop, Ryan Fitzpatrick decided to go full Ryan Fitzpatrick and nearly threw an interception before fumbling. However, Fitzpatrick recovered his own fumble so he could then throw that interception he looked so desperate to throw.
The Bucs defense had their best series of the second half after the turnover, and rookie free agent defensive end Sterling Bailey had a sack of Driskel to force a punt. A perfect punt from Bengals punter Will Monday backed the Bucs up to their own four-yard-line.
The Bucs finished the night by giving Aguayo one more chance to hit a field goal, this time from 47 yards away, and Aguayo missed right. This kid doesn’t look like he’s figuring it out. Folk isn’t going to have to be great to beat him out because it’s hard to be confident in a kid who doesn’t look confident in himself, no matter how many times he tells you he is.
Nothing about this game outside of Aguayo’s night should alarm you. It’s the preseason opener, and there was zero game planning, and there are many things more important than the final score when it comes to games that happen in August.