The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got blown out by the Carolina Panthers in their own stadium, losing 37-23. They also likely threw away their last opportunity to challenge for the division lead or even a playoff spot this year.
Jameis Winston contributed heavily to the loss, throwing four interceptions and seeing a fumbled snap roll away from him, which represented a big step back from his solid play the past two weeks. He ended the game completing 26 of 43 passes for 287 yards, two touchdowns, four interceptions and two sacks.
The Bucs defense seemed to hold up for most of the first half and the Bucs had a chance to tie the game in the two-minute warning, but kicker Kyle Brindza's yips came up again -- he missed two field goals as the Bucs passed up opportunities to go for a touchdown. In the second half, the defense decided that they needed to stop being any good and the Panthers scored another 17 points pretty easily.
The one bright spot for the Bucs was Doug Martin, as he managed to get 106 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries before the score and time forced the Bucs to turn away from him.
At 1-3, the Bucs' season is in danger of spiraling out of control as they're in a division with two 4-0 teams and have almost no way of making the playoffs. Worse, if they can't get it together this season, Lovie Smith and Jason Licht have to fear for their jobs at the end of the year.
First quarter notes
The Bucs got off to a pretty bad start, fumbling the ball on the second play from scrimmage in the wet weather. The Bucs defense held, though, limiting the damage to just a field goal. On Jameis WInston's second go out there, he threw a pick six to Josh Norman on a quick out route to give the Panthers a 10-0 lead after just five minutes of play.
Winston was better on the next drive, though the Bucs mostly leaned on Doug Martin to get themselves into field goal range. A bad throw to Mike Evans into more Josh Norman coverage could have been picked off in the red zone, but it landed harmlessly on the turf allowing Kyle Brindza to redeem himself for last week's misses.
Second quarter notes
The Bucs defense got off to a better start in the second quarter, forcing a three-and-out thanks to pass defenses by Will Gholston and Chris Conte, and good pressure by an inexplicably unblocked Jacquies Smith. The offense couldn't stop giving away the game, though, with their third turnover of the day. This time,Jameis Winston had his pass tipped, giving the Panthers an easy interception. They turned that into a touchdown, despite repeated attempts by Ted Ginn to turn down those opportunities.
Jameis Winston finally bounced back on the team's fourth offensive drive of the game, as they mounted a 13-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to bring the deficit down to 17-10. Doug Martin got the touchdown run to cap that drive, which needed a few Winston improvisations to keep going. The Bucs got a chance to tie the game up at the end of the half after another quality drive, but instead of letting Jameis Winston throw the ball to his wideouts, the Bucs went with a short play to give Kyle Brindza an easier kick -- which he promptly missed.
Third quarter notes
The Bucs seemed to get off to a good start against the Carolina Panthers but alas, a recovered fumble led to Kyle Brindza's second missed field goal. I'd be shocked if he's still on the roster next week, having made just half of his field goals this year and having missed an extra point last week. To make matters worse, the very next play this happened:
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) October 4, 2015
The Bucs were in position to be down just one point, and could have even had the lead had they gone for the touchdown at the end of the half. Instead they were down 24-10. Jameis Winston decided things weren't bad enough yet: he went for his third interception of the day, with a terrible throw behind Vincent Jacksonand an easy interception for Josh Norman. That led to Ted Ginn's second touchdown of the day -- with Mike Jenkins beat, yet again.
The Bucs did manage to come back from that, though, despite giving up pressure and a sack to former Buc Ryan Delaire, Winston actually put together a touchdown drive at the end of the third quarter, capped by a solid throw to Charles Sims. That drive was helped tremendously by Doug Martin, who had a couple of big runs to get the team into scoring position. That made the game 31-17 -- and a field goal later, it was 34-17.
Fourth quarter notes
Down three scores, the Bucs needed to score a lot and do so quickly. Unsurprisingly, they could not. A punt on their first possession of the quarter made coming back nearly impossible, and that was made worse when the defense allowed the Panthers to run a solid four minutes off the clock. Yet another Jameis Winston interception basically ended any chance the Bucs had of coming back and winning that game. A garbage time touchdown made the score a little more palatable, but changed nothing about the nature of this loss.
Backup defensive end Josh Martin left the game in the first quarter with a hamstring injury and it was not clear whether he returned.
Defensive end T.J. Fatinikun left the game with a knee injury and was ruled out for the game in the fourth quarter.
The Jacksonville Jaguars come to town, and they may represent the Bucs' best chance to get a home win this season.