The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their fan base were in good spirits after their season opening win last week at Atlanta. As predicted by this writer, Jameis Winston was named offensive player of the week with his four touchdown performance. However, this was against a Falcons team who have yet to find their bearings defensively. A hard lesson was learned as Tampa Bay (1-1) lost in a blowout to the Arizona Cardinals (1-1), 40-7 at University of Phoenix Stadium. A telling game for both clubs that came into the contest intending on making a statement.
Miscues and mental mistakes was the story throughout the day for the Buccaneers as neither the offense nor the defense clicked. Jameis Winston had arguably his worst game of his young career, going 27 for 52, 243 yards, one touchdown, four interceptions, and one fumble. It didn’t help matters that Doug Martin ended up injuring his hamstring early in the second quarter. Mike Evans once again lead the receiving corp for Tampa Bay with 70 yards and the lone score for the Bucs. Charles Sims was the leading rusher for the offense with 24 yards.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, played with a huge chip on their shoudlers after losing at home last week to New England. Ageless wonders Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald put on a clinic, showing why the Cardinals won the NFC West a season ago. Palmer threw for 308 yards and three scores, one of which went to Fitzgerald, who had 81 yards through the air. Defensively, Arizona gave Winston and the crew all game. Marcus Cooper would have two interceptions, his second returned for a touchdown. Patrick Peterson and former Buccaneer D.J. Swearinger would each have a pick as well.
Up next for Tampa Bay is their home opener against the Los Angeles Rams(1-1), while Arizona travels cross-country to take on the Buffalo Bills (0-2). The Rams are fresh off a low-scoring upset win against Seattle, and are looking to extend their fortunes at Raymond James Stadium next week. It’s early in the season, but the Bucs need to show that they can bounce back from a tough loss like this afternoon. The front seven of LA will be another test for Jameis Winston and the Bucs’ offense. Arizona is one of the league’s elite, but if Tampa Bay doesn’t tighten things up, it could be another long year of mediocrity.
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