The Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened up the home half of their preseason schedule Saturday night against the Cleveland Browns, and immediately moved the ball quickly into Browns territory on the game’s opening drive. Like many Bucs drives this preseason the drive stalled without a touchdown, but the Browns jumped offsides on what would have been a field goal attempt, setting the Bucs up with a first down at the Browns 22-yard-line. A few plays later the drive ended on a Jameis Winston interception on a pass intended for Cameron Brate. Brate was held on the play, but the penalty wasn’t called and Browns rookie Gabrill Peppers picked the ball off, returning it to the Browns 23. Brate was held, but it was still a dangerous pass thrown by Winston who needs to cut down on those kinds of risks.
Browns rookie quarterback Deshone Kizer looked sharp on Cleveland’s opening drive, as they quickly moved into Buccaneers territory on a couple of solid passes by the rookie from Notre Dame. Kizer was just 2-5 on the first drive, but had a couple of big pass completions before having a perfect third down pass dropped to end the drive and set up Browns kicker Cody Parkey for a 38-yard field goal to put the Browns ahead 3-0.
The Bucs next drive once again moved into Browns territory, but stalled at the 38-yard-line when Winston hit Chris Godwin over the middle, picking up five yards on a 3rd-and-7.
After Brian Anger came in and did Brian Anger things, pinning the Browns at their own 1-yard-line, it looked as if the Bucs would force the Browns to punt out of their own end zone, but Kizer picked up a big first down on a pass to fellow rookie Corey Coleman. After the break at the end of the first quarter, Cleveland was facing another 3rd-and-long when the pair of rookies hooked up again, moving the ball out to Cleveland’s 26-yard-line, and out of the shadow of their own goal posts. Kizer looked poised again on his second drive, but the drive was finally halted when Lavonte David deflected a pass which ended up in the hands of Vernon Hargreaves at the Cleveland 37-yard-line.
The Bucs couldn’t do anything after the Hargreaves interception, as a holding penalty and a sack forced the Bucs to once again send Anger out to try and pin the Browns deep, which he did, forcing a fair catch at the 5-yard-line. After a penalty, the Browns were forced to start their next drive at their own three. Just when it looked like the Bucs might force a 3-and-out, Browns back Duke Johnson took the ball 37 yards on 3rd-and-2 moving the ball near midfield. A few plays later after Johnson giveth, he taketh away, fumbling the ball which was recovered by Adarius Glanton.
The Bucs once again failed to take advantage after the Browns turnover, and quickly punted the ball back to Cleveland. The Browns had their most unproductive drive of the half following the Bucs quick possession and Winston and the offense were back on the field quickly with just over four minutes in the first half. The Bucs offense once again failed to get anything going again, and the Bucs punted the ball back to Cleveland after the 2-minute-warning.
After a Cleveland 3-and-out, the Bucs offense was back on the field with just over a minute and a half to try to get something going in the 2-minute offense. The Bucs eventually ran out of time at the 13-yard-line, and sent Folk onto the field to hit a game tying field goal as the first half expired.
The Browns took the ball in the second half, and quickly moved the ball into Buccaneers territory with Cody Kessler at quarterback. Cleveland was in position to score, but were pushed back on a Noah Spence sack, pushing the field goal attempt to 55-yards. Browns back up kicker Zane Gonzales couldn’t come through and the Bucs were left with solid field position for their first drive of the second half.
A few plays into the new drive, Winston found Bernard Reedy who made a move and went 25 yards to move the ball to the Browns 22-yard-line. Moments later on a 3rd-and-12 from the 24-yard-line, Winston found Dontae Dye for what was called an incomplete pass in the front corner of the end zone, but the Buccaneers challenged the call believing that Dye made the catch. Despite the catch looking pretty obvious on the replay, the officials said the call was confirmed, and Folk came in to kick a go ahead 42-yard field goal.
The teams went back and forth with sloppy, unproductive offense for the remainder of the third quarter, and the game went into the final quarter 6-3 Buccaneers as the rain began to fall again, and fans began to file out of the stadium.
After more unimpressive offense on both sides, the Bucs finally found themselves in field goal range again, and Folk drove one through from 45-yards out, putting the Bucs ahead 9-3 with just over nine minutes on the clock, and just over nine fans left in the building.
The Browns drove deep into Bucs territory on their next drive behind quarterback Kevin Hogan, but the drive stalled at the Bucs 29-yard-line. Parkey came back in to kick, in and hit the 47-yard field goal to cut the Buccaneers lead to 6-9 with just over five minutes to play.
After the Bucs failed to do much with their next possession, Hogan and the Browns again drove the Bucs deep into Bucs territory, aided by a pair of personal foul calls on Justin Evans, and the teams went into the 2-minute warning with the Browns facing 1st-and-goal at the Bucs 5-yard-line. Hogan hit Jordan Leslie on the first play after the warning to the Cleveland ahead 13-9 with 1:53 remaining.
Ryan FItzpatrick who's time in the game was as eventful as the game itself put the final nail in the Bucs coffin by fumbling the ball away with 1:37 on the clock to cement the Browns victory, inspiring as many people in Cleveland as the game likely did in Tampa Bay. Here's to hoping Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather find a way to put on a more entertaining show than the Browns and Bucs did tonight, because this thing looked as sloppy as you'd imagine an MMA fighter boxing a boxer would look.