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Kicker, receivers lead suspects in latest Bucs’ defeat

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Blame the kicker, if you want. How could you help it?

After all, Greg Brindza was wide on seven points when the game was winnable, so it’s a logical place to start with the Bucs’ latest defeat. It is one thing to kick the second-longest field goal in team history, but kicking is a job judged first by the straightness of it.

Blame the drops, if you prefer. You couldn’t look away from them.

The Bucs’ wide receivers batted down so many passes Sunday afternoon, you might think they were defensive backs instead. In particular, Mike Evans had a tough afternoon. He was targeted 17 times, and many of the 10 that he didn’t catch bounded off of him.

Blame the penalties. Blame the quarterback. Blame the defense. Blame the coaches. Blame anyone associated with the Tampa Bay Bucs.

The Bucs, losers again, portioned out pieces of their 19-9 loss to the Houston Texans to everyone. In the end, that’s what the Bucs have done throughout most of their seasons, and through recent history. It is as if losing has a checklist, and the Bucs want to make a mark by every category.

This time, for instance, they were playing a Houston team with a backup quarterback who had won only one game in his career and a backup running back who had only 48 yards on the season. And how did they do? Quarterback Ryan Mallett threw for 228 yards, and running back Alfred Blue ran for 139 yards. Throw in 10 penalties for 94 yards, and the Bucs gave up a lot of yardage.

Still, Tampa Bay had a shot at this one. But offensively, it could not finish its drives, and it couldn’t salvage points from its kicking game.

All it all, it made for a depressing loss from the Bucs. Rookie quarterback Jamies Winston was scattered at times, too, but he finished with 261 yards on 17 of 36 passing with several drops.

The Bucs averaged fewer than three yards a carry running the ball.

Tampa Bay, 1-2, is home next week against Carolina.

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Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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