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49ers' Third-Quarter Surge Sinks Bucs in Hard-Fought Road Loss

The Bucs fought to the end of a 27-14 road loss to the 49ers on Sunday, but a third-quarter surge by the 49ers' Brock Purdy-led offense and some missed opportunities in the red zone kept them from getting a second straight win


Brock Purdy threw three touchdown passes and the San Francisco 49ers scored 17 unanswered points to blow open a close game and defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 27-14, on Sunday at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. It was the Buccaneers' fifth loss in their last six outings, all since a Week Five bye that followed a 3-1 start to the season.

The loss dropped the Buccaneers to 4-6 on the season and into a second-place tie with Atlanta in the NFC South, one game behind the 5-5 New Orleans Saints. Both the Falcons and Saints were on their bye in Week 11. After winning their first two road games of the season, at Minnesota and New Orleans during a 3-1 start, the Bucs have now dropped their last three away from home. They head to Indianapolis to play the Colts in Week 12.

"It's a loss, first and foremost," said QB Baker Mayfield. "The thing I look at is – I've consistently said that in some of these games, later in the game, we've continued to fight, and that's never changed. We have a team that's still willing to fight from this point forward. It's still about playing our best game, putting it all together, especially when you're playing competition like that. If you don't do that, if you give them more opportunities, they're going to take advantage. That's just the way this league works."

Tampa Bay suffered its second double-digit loss in San Francisco in as many seasons, following a 35-7 decision last December in QB Brock Purdy's first career start. That game was 28-0 at halftime, but the Bucs were far more competitive this time around. However, the 49ers scored early in the third quarter on Brandon Aiyuk's 76-yard touchdown catch down the left sideline and that begun a surge that put the Bucs in a 20-point hole.

"For us right now, it's a long flight home, but then on the road again, find a way to win, and just a 'one-game-at-a-time' mentality from here on out," said Mayfield. "Our heads down, block out everything and see where we can take this thing. With a group that fights this hard, it's too damn hard not to think that we can control our destiny. We have to be able to do that. I still believe in this group. This is a tough one. We obviously didn't play our best, had some opportunities there. We're going to get home, get some things fixed and roll from there."

Adding injury to insult during a difficult third quarter, the Buccaneers also lost three starting defenders to injuries in that stretch, including both cornerbacks, Carlton Davis (hip) and Jamel Dean (ankle/foot), and defensive leader Lavonte David (groin). Rookie OLB Yaya Diaby did give the defense a boost with his first two-sack game, and David had seven tackles, a sack and three tackles for loss before his departure. Winfield led the team with a season-high 16 tackles and DL Vita Vea had the Bucs' other sack.

Those hits to the lineup compounded a rough stretch for the Buccaneers' defense. One week after stifling the Tennessee Titans in a 20-6 win, Tampa Bay gave up 420 total yards, including a 333-yard passing day for Purdy. Purdy alternated between targeting his dangerous quartet of weapons – wide receivers Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel, tight end George Kittle and running back Christian McCaffrey. All four had at least 62 yards from scrimmage, led by Aiyuk's 156 yards on five catches, and all but Samuel found the end zone.

The Buccaneers did continue to fight after falling behind, 27-7, mounting one long touchdown drive and getting back inside the 49ers' 20 midway through the fourth quarter before turning it over on downs. Thompkins gave the Bucs' another shot in the red zone with a 51-yard punt return but that one ended on a pass that hit a player in the helmet and deflected to S Ji'Ayir Brown in the end zone for an interception.

"We had some good opportunities today that we didn't exactly take advantage of," said Mayfield. "When you're playing a team like that you have to. That's just the story."

Mayfield was sharp again despite a fierce San Francisco pass rush, often throwing under pressure and completing 29 of 45 passes for 246 yards, one touchdown and the one fluky interception. He threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans in the second quarter to briefly make it a three-point game, then hit rookie WR Rakim Jarrett on a 41-yarder down the middle to set up RB Rachaad White one-yard touchdown run. The Buccaneers gained 287 yards of offense and matched the 49ers with 22 first downs.

Not counting a one-play kneel-down to bring on halftime, the Buccaneers only had three possessions in the first half. Losing one of those to a turnover in the 49ers' territory was tough to swallow, but Mayfield and the Bucs did respond with a 75-yard touchdown drive to keep it close. Unfortunately, the 49ers answered with a 61-yard field goal drive to make it 13-7 at the half. The 49ers had a 201-115 yardage edge at the break and possessed the ball for 17:14 of the first 30 minutes, but two red zone stops by Tampa Bay's defense kept the game within one score.

"In the first half we only had it three times," said Mayfield. "Definitely [we moved the ball] on the drive that we went down and scored, but then also on a drive that I fumbled. That's a costly error, a mistake by me. We've got to get out of our own way."

The 49ers started the game at their own 20 after a 21-yard Ray-Ray McCloud return, and the Bucs' defense won the first play, with David stopping Samuel for a loss of one on an end-around. However, the 49ers picked up a blitz on second down and Purdy had time to find Kittle over the middle for 24 yards. CB Jamel Dean broke up Purdy's next pass and McCaffrey got just two yards on a diving catch over the middle. The Bucs blitzed again on third down and David eventually tripped a scrambling Purdy for an 11-yard sack.

Deven Thompkins drew a fair catch interference penalty on the punt, allowing the Bucs to start their first drive at their own 37. Mayfield tried to push it downfield right away to Evans on a flag route but CB Deommodore Lenoir made a leaping pass breakup. Two plays later, on third-and-seven, Mayfield had to get rid of the ball as the pocket collapsed and his deep shot to WR Rakim Jarrett was out of reach. Jake Camarda's punt was returned two yards to the San Francisco 20.

A 15-yard catch-and-ruin by Samuel and a neutral zone infraction on OLB Yaya Diaby made it first-and-five at the 40 and McCaffrey moved the chains two plays later on a seven-yard cut over right guard. Purdy then tried to scramble up the middle on first down by Vea reached out an arm to bring him down for a one-yard sack. Purdy converted a third-and-seven near midfield with an 11-yard strike to McCaffrey. Another breakout run by McCaffrey was erased by a downfield holding call on Aiyuk, making it first-and-14 at the Bucs' 42. A defensive holding call on Dean made it first-and-10 at the 37, and Purdy found Aiyuk and a deep in break for 14 yards. Two McCaffrey runs, once bounced out to the right and one straight up the middle added up to 17 yards down to the Bucs' six, and two plays later McCaffrey slipped out to the right and caught an easy touchdown pass.

Thompkins was dropped at the 15 on the ensuing kickoff and Mayfield started the drive with a read-option keeper for three yards. White powered up the middle for four more and then caught a screen out to the left for eight and a first down at the 30. Mayfield went right back to White on the next play and got five more on a flare out to the right. After an offside call made it second-and-inches, Mayfield scrambled before zipping a pass out horizontally to Edmonds, who got upfield for 11 yards. A three-yard run by Edmonds brought the first quarter to an end. After switching sides, the Bucs ran a reverse to Palmer, who followed a Mayfield block on Nick Bosa to get six yards. A quick pass out left to Palmer was enough to convert the third-and-one and put the ball at the Niners' 38. Unfortunately, two plays later Mayfield tried to scramble for yardage and was stripped of the ball by Warner. Clelin Ferrell recovered it for the home team at its own 35.

A run right by Elijah Mitchell for 13 yards got the 49ers moving again, and two plays later Mitchell went the same direction to make it third-and-two at the Bucs' 44. Purdy got the first down with a scramble up the middle, then hit Aiyuk for a gain of 19 to the Bucs' 22. Diaby shot around the right tackle two plays later to get Purdy down for an eight-yard sack, and a short pass to Samuel was seven yards shy of a first down. Jake Moody came in to hit a 37-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead.

After a touchback, Mayfield started the Bucs' next drive with an eight-yard outlet pass to TE Payne Durham, and Edmonds went over left tackle for three more and a first down. Palmer then made an impressive leaping catch down the right sideline for 17 yards, getting the ball across midfield. On second-and-four after an offside flag on the 49ers, White got two on a run left. Mayfield took off on a scramble on third-and-two and absorbed two big hits to just get past the sticks. On first-and-10 from the 36, Baker had almost no time to study the field before he was sacked for a loss of nine by Arik Armstead. However, Mayfield got all of it back on the next play, a perfect seam pass down the left numbers to TE Cade Otton for a gain of 27. That brought on the two-minute warning, and after the break an end-around to Thompkins picked up 17 yards down to the one. Mayfield faked a handoff to White on first-and-goal and zipped a pass to Evans in the end zone for a touchdown.

The 49ers were left with almost two minutes to try to add to their 10-7 lead before halftime and only needed a little of it to get immediately into scoring range. Purdy found Aiyuk down the right seam and he evaded several would-be tacklers before going out of bounds at the Bucs' 34 on a gain of 37. David's second TFL of the half forced McCaffrey into a loss of two but a square-in to Kittle worked for nine and Purdy found Aiyuk on a crossing route for 10 more to make it first-and-10 at the 17. Two short completions left San Francisco in a third-and-three and Purdy threw out of the back of the end zone to lead to Moody's 28-yard field goal.

The Bucs got it back with just 16 seconds left and knelt to bring on halftime.

Tampa Bay also had the ball to start the second half, at its own 23, and White ran twice for a total of 12 yards to make it first-and-10 at the 35. A deep shot to Evans fell incomplete, and a pass over the middle to Godwin gained seven. On third-and-three, Mayfield faked a screen pass he had thrown earlier in the game to White and went down the right sideline to Palmer, who made a leaping catch but had it poked out of his hands by CB Charvarius Ward before he hit the ground. Camarda's punt bounced out of bounds at the 49ers' two-yard line.

McCaffrey only gained one on first down but the 49ers schemed Kittle wide open out to the left and he was able to rumble up the sideline for 21 yards. Purdy then went over the top down the right sideline to Aiyuk, who caught it in stride and raced the rest of the way for a 76-yard touchdown.

A penalty on the next kickoff forced the Bucs to start at their own 10-yard line, and a White run followed by a pass down the line to Palmer combined for a loss of one. Mayfield dropped back into his own end zone and kept the drive alive with a hard pass that Evans slid down by the sideline to catch for 13 yards. A check-down pass to White got another 11 when the back juked out safety Talanoa Hufanga. However, the drive stalled at that point and the Bucs punted away from their 33. The kick was fair caught at the San Francisco 21.

McCaffrey put the Niners on the move again with a tackle-breaking 12-yard run around right end, and Kittle rumbled for 11 more on a short pass left on the next play. OLB Shaq Barrett got into the backfield to drop McCaffrey for a loss of four, but Purdy's scramble on second down bought time for him to find Samuel wide open for a gain of 40 to the Bucs' 20. After getting a first-and-goal at the Bucs' six, the 49ers got into the end zone again on Purdy's three-yard pass to Kittle.

After a touchback, Mayfield threw a six-yard pass to Evans and handed off to Edmonds for a gain of one. Mayfield moved the chains with a hard four-yard pass to Godwin but camp up limping at the end of the play, which brought the fourth quarter to an end. Mayfield opened the fourth quarter with a big play, throwing deep down the middle to rookie WR Rakim Jarrett for a gain of 41 to the San Francisco 23. Mayfield tried to hit on another big play with throw down the middle to Otton, and while it was incomplete it did draw a pass interference call on Warner that made it first-and-goal at the one. White took a shotgun handoff on bashed into the end zone to complete the 75-yard touchdown drive that made it 27-14 with 14 minutes left.

The Bucs' defense got a much-needed stop on the next possession, thanks to tackles of McCaffrey by Will Gholston and Josh Hayes and good coverage by Hayes on Aiyuk downfield on third down. Thompkins tacked a 13-yard return onto the end of the punt to make it first down right at the Bucs' 20.

Mayfield converted an early third down with a perfect 12-yard out to Evans, then hit Godwin for nine more out to the 41. White powered past the line for a new set of downs, and two plays later Godwin fought off two defenders to catch another first-down pass at the 49ers' 45. Three players later, on third-and-10, Godwin ran a square-in just past the line to gain and hauled in the pass for a first down at the 34. Two plays later, a deep shot to Evans on a post was incomplete, making it third-and-five. Mayfield's third-down pass to Evans was tipped at the line, so the Bucs had to go for it on fourth-and-five. With the entire pocket collapsing in on him, Mayfield stayed calm and managed to get out a pass to Evans on a crossing route for a first down at the 18. On third-and-four from the 14, two 49er defenders ran into each other but did break up the pass intended for Evans in the end zone. That led to another fourth-down attempt, and this time Mayfield's throw out of a crowded backfield came out wobbly and Evans couldn't quite haul it in in the end zone.

The 49ers thus took over at their own 12 but didn't go far. Antoine Winfield Jr. dropped McCaffrey for a loss of one on first down and Diaby sacked Purdy back at the three-yard line. McCaffrey's third down carry came up well short and the 49ers had to punt from their 15. Thompkins caught it at the Bucs' 36, knifed between two defenders and got to the left sideline for a career-long 51-yard punt return to the 49ers' 13.

Mayfield completed a four-yard pass to White, with Wirfs limping off the field after the play. Mayfield hit Otton in the end zone on the next play but the tight end couldn't quite hold on through contact with two defenders. On the next play, Mayfield's pass skipped of a defender's helmet and was caught in the end zone by Brown.

That put the ball at the 20 and the 49ers got one first down before getting into a fourth-and-one situation at the 47. The Bucs used all three of their timeouts in this stretch and after the last one the 49ers went for it on fourth down. McCaffrey got the ball but not the first down as he was stopped short by Hayes.

The Bucs had 2:13 to work with as they got the ball back near midfield. An eight-yard Otton catch and a pressured throwaway made it third-and-two at the 49ers' 45. White got the ball up the middle to move the chains and bring on the two-minute warning. Mayfield was sacked on the next play back at the 47 for a loss of seven and a sideline pass to Otton got eight yards back. However, Mayfield was sacked again on third down to make it fourth-and-18. Mayfield threw what was essentially a Hail Mary and it was batted down in the end zone.

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