TAMPA BAY --In preseason game number three, the Detroit Lions (1-2) scored 20 fourth quarter points to overcome a 21 point deficit, to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) 33-30 on Friday night.
After a 59 minute delay due to lightning & rain, Tampa Bay received the ball first. And after a 31 yard return by rookie running back Shaun Wilson, the Buccaneers took the field with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick leading the offense.
The Buccaneers ran the ball their first three plays with running back Peyton Barber gaining 17 yards on his first three carries. Then Fitzpatrick threw his pass of the night, a completion on first down for 9 yards to wide receiver DeSean Jackson. And on his second pass of the night, Fitzpatrick found tight end O.J. Howard for 17 yards, which got Tampa Bay within the redzone.
After a pass to wide receiver Chris Godwin for six yards, the Buccaneers were inside the redzone, with Barber getting the home team on the board first with a 14 yard touchdown run.
The Buccaneers scoring drive was eight plays 66 yards, with Barber getting his second touchdown of the preseason. And his 34 yards on the scoring drive, eclipsed his rushing total in each of the first two preseason games.
Trailing 7-0, the Lions, with two completions from quarterback Matthew Stafford, were able to move the ball inside Buccaneers territory. And with the help of a blown coverage by Tampa Bay, Stafford found wide receiver Kenny Golladay for 36 yards, inside the Buccaneers 10 yard line. Golladay was tackled on the six yard line by safety Chris Conte. But the Lions attempted to run the football with former Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount & gained one yard then lossed a yard on back to back carries, forcing Lions kicker Matt Prater to kick a 24 yard field goal.
On the Buccaneers second drive, the Tampa Bay offense took advantage of a mismatch with running back Ronald Jones II lined up out wide. And with Jones being defender by a linebacker, Fitzpatrick threw a pass to Jones, who made an over-the shoulder catch, up the Tampa Bay sidelines for 37 yard gain. But once inside Lions territory, the Buccaneers allowed a sack on Fitzpatrick that loss seven yards. Then wide receiver Mike Evans, who was injured on the play after taking a shot to the back, was called for offensive pass interference, pushing the Buccaneers out of field goal range.
After the Buccaneers punt, the Lions started their next drive at their own two yard line. But with the help of a 53 yard pass interference penalty on rookie safety Jordan Whitehead, Detroit was able to put three more points on the board when their 13 play 90 yard drive ended with Prater's second field goal of the night, this one from 26 yards away.
Leading 7-6, the Buccaneers made a change at quarterback & after leading Tampa Bay on its first two drives of the game, Fitzpatrick's night was over. He ended the game completing six of his seven passes for 82 yards.
Quarterback Jameis Winston replaced Fitzpatrick & on his first drive of the night, he completed four passes, the last one a 10 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chris Godwin, who made a leaping grap over the Lions defender on a jump ball-fade route. The touchdown gave Tampa Bay the 13-6 lead but kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed the extra point, his second missed extra point of the preseason.
After the Lions went three & out on their next drive, the Buccaneers got the ball back with just under three minutes left in the half. But after one first down, Tampa Bay was unable to move the football. And after getting the ball back, Detroit moved the ball into Buccaneers territory & decided to attempt a 62 yard field goal, right before the end of the half The Buccaneers anticipated Prater's kick being short & put wide receiver Adam Humphries in the end zone. And when Prater's 62 yard attempt fell short of the crossbar, Humphries brought the ball out of the endzone, ran up the middle & after sprinting left, right in front of the Lions sidelines, Humphries was able to get past Prater, the last man to beat, finishing off a 109 yard return for a touchdown.
Detroit opened the second half with the football, trailing 20-6, but were only able to get just inside Buccaneers territory before they were forced to punt. And on their first drive of the second half, Tampa Bay gave the ball to their third quarterback of the night, Ryan Griffin. Griffin, who replaced Winston after his 6 for 10 game, led Tampa Bay on 6 play 88 yard drive that ended with a 19 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Freddie Martino.
After using Stafford all of the first half, the Lions started quarterback Matt Cassel in the second half. And with the Lions trailing 27-6, Cassel led the Detroit offense on an 11 play 75 yard drive, ending with running back Theo Riddick taking the ball into the endzone from 10 yards away.
Following the Lions touchdown, Tampa Bay was unable to do anything but three & out on their next drive. And Detroit put together their second straight scoring drive, this one longer than the last one. The 13 play touchdown drive was capped off when Cassel hit wide receiver Bradley Marquez on a three yard touchdown pass, cutting the Buccaneers to seven points.
Tampa Bay got the ball back & another solid kickoff return from Wilson, this one from 39 yards away. That return plus three passes from Griffin, got the Buccaneers in field goal range & Catanzaro was good on a 42 yard attempt, giving Tampa Bay the 30-20 lead.
Both teams were forced to punt after the next two possessions. But Tampa Bay's punt was returned by wide receiver Brandon Powell for an 80 yard touchdown, cutting the lead to four. The Lions head coach Matt Patricia decided to go for two points but the conversion failed.
Leading by four the Buccaneers, with Austin Allen at quarterback, were unable again to get a first down & that lead to the Lions putting together the game-winning drive. The drive ended when quarterback Jake Ruddock hit tight end Marcus Lucas with a five yard touchdown pass, giving Detroit the 33-30 lead, their only lead of the game.