The Bucs lost again Sunday. Of course they did.
The Bucs lost because, pretty much, that is what they do. They have lost nine times this season, 23 over the last two and 75 times over the last seven seasons.
Because they aren’t good enough to avoid it, that’s why.
The Bucs struggled on both offense and defense in a 26-21 loss to Chicago that wasn’t as close as it seemed. The Bucs scored on a 43-yard Hail Mary from Jameis Winston to Austin Seferian-Jenkins with 1 second left to make the final margin seem closer.
“I thought we would play a lot better than we did today,” coach Lovie Smith said. “It’s tough to win when you do some of the things we did today: turnovers. Two fumbles; we threw an interception.”
If not for that play, it would have been the seventh time this season the Bucs have been held to fewer than 20 points. Now, consider that the Bucs had, for the moment at least, the leading rusher in the NFL, and the probable Rookie of the Year and a 1,000-yard receiver, and an improved offensive line.
Defensively? Things are even worse. The Bucs gave up an average of 4.5 yards per play to the Bears, and maligned Jay Cutler hit 20 of 27 passes for 156 yards and had a rating of 100.2.
Throw in a key penalty that nullified an interception, a key interception and two fumbles by Doug Martin, and you grasp the totality of the meltdown.
“That’s not something that Martin has done a lot lately,” Smith said. “Martin has had an outstanding season. He didn’t play his best ball today. Some days, you just don’t have it, and it really put our team in a hole.”
Said Winston: “He’s still the best back in the NFL. You better believe it.”
It was the third consecutive loss for the Bucs.
Winston had his second-most yards passing, but he also took several shots deep and missed on them.
“That’s something I work on every day at practice,” he said. “That’s what I was just talking about: making the plays. If I want to be good in this league, I have to make those throws. The good quarterbacks in the league make those throws.”
The Bucs close their season out next week at Carolina. The Panthers are 14-1 after Sunday’s loss to Atlanta.