It’s time to look back at how the Buccaneers blew a fourth-quarter lead in the Superdome, and allowed the Saints to eventually win in overtime.
There is one stat that stands out more than any other: penalties. Tampa Bay had every chance to win this game, but kept shooting itself in the foot with one yellow flag after another – 15 of them in all for 113 yards.
Early in the game, whenever Mike Glennon completed a big pass downfield, the Bucs were flagged. Or, his receiver dropped the ball (I’m looking at you, Austin Seferian-Jenkins.) The dropped passed are one thing. But it’s the penalties that cost the Buccaneers a chance to finish a tough, three-game road trip with a more-than-respectable 2-1 record.
The real killers came late in the fourth quarter and in overtime. How awful was that Bucs’ series after the Saints had cut the lead to five? They started on the 20. An offensive holding penalty pushed the ball back to the 10. The next play was an errant snap that sailed to Glennon’s right, which he fell on at the 2. That was followed by back-to-back fouls for delay of game and false start. Next play: Junior Gallette comes in untouched, and brings the Saints to within a field goal. New Orleans would tie the game on its ensuing possession after the free kick.
The last ridiculous (and in my opinion, questionable) penalty came in overtime, when Jonathan Banks was flagged for illegal use of hands to the face. I’ve watched the play over and over, and I still don’t see the penalty. Of course, the Fox crew didn’t exactly provide a conclusive replay, either. But regardless of how Bucs fans feel about the call, the point is this: the penalty came on third down. Instead of forcing the Saints to punt, the Bucs gift-wrapped a first down for them. We all know what happened after that.
Yes, the defense wilted in the fourth quarter and overtime. They had to be out of gas. But the Buccaneers didn’t help their cause with all of those mistakes. It’s a problem that needs to be fixed, in a league where the refs are now throwing flags on seemingly every other play. This game was there for the taking, and the Bucs let it slip through their hands.
Photo Courtesy: AP