The Tampa Bay Buccaneers headed into Sunday at Raymond James Stadium looking for their fifth win of the season against the Detroit Lions. After the clubs exchanged 3-and-outs, Matt Stafford quickly moved the Lions down the field on their second drive, and after chunk plays through the air set Detroit up with a 1st-and-goal at the Bucs 2-yard-line, Theo Riddick punched it in for the go-ahead touchdown.
Detroit’s early lead wouldn’t last long, as Jameis Winston and the Bucs matched the Lions’ drive, with Doug Martin eventually punching it in from the 1-yard-line to tie the game up at seven a piece with just under three minutes to play in the first quarter.
A few plays into Detroit’s next drive, Stafford found tight end Eric Ebron over the middle for 13 yards, but Lavonte David forced the tight end to fumble, and recovered it, to give the offense the ball right back just 22 second after Martin’s touchdown. After unnecessary roughness penalties on Ryan Russell and Kwon Alexander after the fumble recovery, the offense started at their own 46-yard-line.
Less than a minute into the Buccaneers drive it was one of their tight end’s turn to fumble as O.J. Howard had the ball dislodged, and it was followed by a comical few minutes of the officials having no idea what the heck happened, what the heck they called, or what the heck the end result should be. The result was Lions football, and they began to move the ball as the first period came to an end.
The Lions would start the second quarter with a 1st-and-10 at the Buccaneers 40-yard-line, but a pair of holding penalties, quickly had the team staring at 2nd-and-22, and back on their own side of the football field. The Bucs got off the field on 3rd-and-14. The defensive stand was also met with bad news however, as the team announced Gerald McCoy had left the game with a shoulder and bicep injury, and likely would not return.
The Bucs drive wouldn’t last long after the defensive stand, as Winston rolled out on second down and made an ill-advised pass on the run which was intercepted by Lions corner Darius Slay. Detroit’s drive looked destined to fail after another offensive penalty, but Stafford found Marvin Jones for 38 yards to set up 1st-and-goal at the 5-yard-line, and a play later it was Golden Tate hauling in a five-yard touchdown pass from Stafford to put the Lions ahead 14-7.
It looked like the Buccaneers would at the very least cut into the Lions lead on the following drive, but Doug Martin fumbled at the 24-yard-line and it was recovered by Detroit who would look to add to their touchdown lead with just over three and a half minutes left in the half. The Lions were on their way into scoring position themselves, but a first half that was littered with turnovers had yet another, as Brent Grimes took away a Stafford pass intended for Kenny Golladay.
The Bucs couldn’t do anything with the possession however, and were quickly punting the football back to Detroit. The Lions took their opportunity to run a two-minute offense, and were able to move into Buccaneer territory, but this drive like so many in the first half ended with a turnover, as Robert McClain intercepted Stafford.
Each team turned the ball over three times in the first half, but the Lions were able to head to the locker room ahead 14-7.
The Buccaneers started the second half with the football after deferring to start the game, and the offense was moving the ball, but the turnover theme picked right up where it left off in the first half as Winston threw a ball over the middle that sailed over the head of O.J. Howard, and into the hands of Lions safety Quandre Diggs.
After a quick Lions possession, the Bucs had the ball again and were driving in Lions territory when Winston was sacked, and fumbled the football. At first the officials ruled that Tahir Whitehead who recovered the fumble also fumbled, and after a Donovan Smith recovery it was ruled another Buccaneers first down. A review of the play would show that Whitehead was down by contact, so the play did result in another turnover.
It looked as if offensive penalties might once again doom Detroit’s drive, but after a ridiculously stupid and very late roughing the passer call on Ryan Russell, and some awful attempts at tackling inside the 5-yard-line, Reddick was once again in the end zone, and the Lions lead was stretched to 21-7.
The Bucs next drive was their most promising since the first half as they were able to move the ball downfield, despite a near interception that was overruled after review. The Buccaneers started the fourth quarter with the a 1st-and-goal from the Lions 7-yard-line. After a pair of Peyton Barber carries on first and second down, Winston found O.J. Howard on 3rd-and-goal to pull the Buccaneers back within a touchdown with 13:41 remaining.
It looked as if Detroit was going to extend their following drive and move into position to once again push their lead to two possessions, but a holding call whipped out a big play over the middle to Tate, and the Bucs were able to hold on 3rd-and-19, giving Winston and the offense and opportunity to tie the game up with just over 10 minutes to play in the contest.
The Buccaneers offense didn’t disappoint the home fans on the next drive as they drove down the field and tied the football game on a touchdown pass from Winston to, get this, offensive tackle, Leonard Wester!
The Lions were able to drive the ball into Bucs territory, but the Bucs defense was able to shut the Lions down at the 43-yard-line, forcing a Lions punt (instead of a 60-yard field goal attempt), and giving the Buccaneers a chance to go ahead for the first time in the game with around five minutes to play. The Bucs were only able to pick up a single first down on the drive, and punted the ball back to Detroit with 2:54 remaining.
The Lions drive got off to a quick start, and they went into the 2-minute-warning with a 1st-and-10 at midfield. It looked as if the Bucs defense might get off the field with about a minute to play but Golladay made a bobbling catch to set up 1st-and-10 at the Bucs 36-yard-line. A few plays later on a 2nd-and-15 for Detroit, Stafford found Tate to set up 3rd-and-1 at the 27-yard-line, but more importantly put Detroit in easy field goal position for Matt Prater. The Bucs would eventually force Detroit to kick a field 46-yard field goal with 25 seconds remaining. Prater hit the field goal to put the Lions ahead with 20 second remaining, and the rest was elementary as the Bucs walked away with another home loss.