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Bucs' Offense Falters in Loss to Lions in Creamsicle Game

The Bucs, clad in orange and white for the first time in 11 years, struggled to convert third downs on offense and prevent conversions on defense as the Lions won a battle of first-place teams, 20-6


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers threw a Creamsicle bash at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday but failed to go home with the ultimate party prize. Wearing their iconic Creamsicle uniforms for the first time in over a decade, the Buccaneers struggled to get in gear on offense and fell to the streaking Detroit Lions, 20-6.

After taking over first place in the NFC South with a 26-9 win in New Orleans in Week Four, the Buccaneers failed to maintain that momentum 14 days later after a bye week, falling to 3-2 on the season in the process.

"I thought it was a hard-fought game," said Head Coach Todd Bowles. "I thought the mistakes we made put the game to 20-6 and we couldn't recover. I thought we made a lot of mistakes and it looked like we came off a bye week. We don't compare who we play and how we play; I think each game is different. I do think we have a good football team. I think we're young. I think it felt like we came off a bye week and we looked sluggish and we played like that."

In a matchup of two former first-overall picks who have found fresh starts with teams other than the ones that originally drafted them, the Lions' Jared Goff got the upper hand with 353 yards and two touchdowns on 30-of-44 passing. The Buccaneers' Baker Mayfield was held to 206 yards on 19-of-37 passing and was intercepted early in the game on a tipped pass. Goff repeatedly targeted WR Amon St. Brown, who caught 12 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown.

"They just executed better than we did," said CB Jamel Dean, who finished with six tackles. LB Lavonte David led the Bucs' defense with 12 tackles, adding a sack, two tackles for loss and a pass defensed.

For Tampa Bay, WR Chris Godwin caught six of his seven targets for 77 yards but Mayfield threw 17 other passes to WR Mike Evans and Trey Palmer and only six were completed. Mayfield and Palmer failed to hook up on two deep shots where the rookie wideout got behind the defense, and Mayfield's interception occurred on a pass that, had it not been tipped at the line, likely would have resulted in a 92-yard touchdown pass to Evans.

"Not only those two to Trey but the tipped interception, Mike was going to score a touchdown," said Mayfield. "It was just one of those days. I had everything we wanted but didn't execute, so it's frustrating as hell. We have to find ways to make it work and it starts with me. We'll fix it."

Neither team was able to mount any semblance of a rushing attack. The Bucs held the Lions, who lost starting back David Montgomery to a rib injury before halftime, to 40 yards on 22 carries. Rachaad White led the Buccaneers with 26 yards on seven totes and the home team finished with 46 rushing yards overall.

The Bucs came into the game ranked second in the league in turnover differential but committed the only giveaway of the game. Tampa Bay's defense had forced 10 turnovers during its 3-1 start but didn't come particularly close to one on Sunday. David, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and rookie first-rounder Calijah Kancey all recorded sacks on Goff, but the Lions quarterback otherwise wasn't consistently pressured.

"We didn't force the issue and they didn't make any mistakes," said Dean of the lack of takeaways. "In a game like this, the team that makes the least mistakes is probably going to win, and we made the most."

The first half was mostly dominated by the two defenses, as each team had recorded just a single field goal before Amon-Ra St. Brown's 27-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown put the Lions ahead with five minutes left in the second quarter. That 75-yard drive was the only one for Detroit that went for more than 39 yards. The Lions scored the game's first points on a tipped-ball interception deep in Bucs territory that led to Riley Patterson's 33-yard field goal. Tampa Bay countered with Chase McLaughlin's own 33-yarder at the end of a second-quarter drive that covered 43 yards. The Bucs had six first downs and 106 yards of offense before the intermission; the Lions had eight and 164.

"We sucked today," said Mayfield. "I sucked today, we sucked today, it was awful from the get-go. We can't play like that. We didn't start fast, we didn't pick it up in the middle and we didn't finish strong. Plain and simple, we have to be better. The Lions are a good ballclub, but if we play like that we're going to lose every time. I think the defense and special teams did an amazing job yet again."

View the top photos of Tampa Bay's Week 6 matchup vs. the Detroit Lions.

The Buccaneers finally made it into the Lions' red zone on their first drive of the second half but that one stalled after an offensive pass-interference call on Mike Evans in the end zone on third-and-one. The Bucs pulled to within four on McLaughlin's second field goal but Detroit immediately countered with a 73-yard touchdown drive ending in Goff's 45-yard touchdown pass to WR Jameson Williams. That gave the Lions an 11-point lead late in the third quarter and the Bucs never got any closer. Detroit's offense found a comfort zone that the Bucs' attack never did in the second half, eventually outgaining the home team, 380 yards to 251. After the Bucs punted the ball back with 11 minute left in the fourth quarter, the Lions converted a pair of third downs on a drive that drained all but the last 3:45 off the clock.

"Pretty sure the ball was kind of back there at the time," said Bowles of the decision to punt. "There was about 11 minutes left in the game. We felt we had time. They ate up more clock than we wanted them to."

The Lions essentially won the game on third downs, converting nine of their 16 opportunities on offense while only allowing the Buccaneers to convert on two of their 12 tries. Detroit's chain-moving plays included four conversions of 10 or more yards, including both of Goff's touchdown passes.

"The two touchdowns they scored, one was third-and-10, one was third-and-14 and we had two busts," said Bowles. "That should have never happened, and that's on us coaches, on us as players.

The Bucs-Lions tilt was the only one on the NFL's Week Six slated that pitted two first-place teams from different divisions against each other. For that reason, it was flexed from its original time slot to a 4:25 p.m. kickoff, which allowed the Bucs to watch the other three teams in the NFC South play during the 1:00 p.m. time slot. The Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints all lost, which means the Buccaneers will hold on to first place in the division heading into a Week Seven showdown with the 3-3 Falcons. The Saints are also 3-3 while the Panthers are the NFL's only winless team at 0-6. The Lions, who have won 13 of their last 16 games dating back to last season, improved to 5-1 and are 2.5 games ahead of the idle Green Bay Packers.

The Bucs brokeout their Creamsicle uniforms for the first throwback game at Raymond James Stadium since 2012, doing so against a Lions team with which they shared the NFC Central division for a quarter-century. Tampa Bay, which also had Creamsicle games each year from 2009-12, is now 1-4 in orange-and-white since adopting their current red-and-pewter uniforms in 1997.

The Buccaneers got the ball first to start the game after a touchback on the kickoff. Mayfield had lots of time to throw on the second snap and found Godwin on a crosser for a gain of 16. However, it was third-and-nine at the Bucs' 44 moments later and White couldn't quite hold on to a tough catch on the left sideline. Jake Camarda floated a 53-yard punt down to the Lions' three and CB Josh Hayes tripped up return man Kalif Raymond at the 10.

The Lions got the ball moving quickly, with an 11-yard catch-and-run by St. Brown and a 19-yard grab by LaPorta that made it first-and-10 four yards shy of midfield. DL Will Gholston pressured Goff into a hurried throwaway on first down, and a big blitz on third-and-six forced another errant throw, leading to a punt. Deven Thompkins fair caught it at the Bucs' eight.

Unfortunately, the Bucs' second drive only lasted one play. Mayfield spotted Evans running wide open 15 yards behind the last defender and fired in his direction but the ball was tipped at the line by DL Isaiah Buggs and intercepted at the 12 by diving CB Will Harris. A tackle for a loss of one yard by Yaya Diaby against Montgomery put Detroit in a third-and-eight and DL Vita Vea made sure a third-down draw by Montgomery didn't go anywhere either. Vita also poked the ball out of the back's hand but he was able to fall on it at the 12. K Riley Patterson came on to hit a 30-yard field goal for the game's first score.

A holding call on the ensuing kickoff return put the Bucs deep in their territory again. A tough six-yard run up the gut by White and TE Payne Durham's first NFL reception moved the sticks out to the 22. However, it was third-and-10 a few plays later and Mayfield's scramble to the left sideline wasn't enough to get the first down. A penalty on the punt moved Detroit back to its own 25.

Jamel Dean and Devin White closed quickly on LaPorta after an outlet pass to hold him to no gain, but Goff got off a third-down pass that St. Brown hauled in for a first down at the 41 despite a well-timed hit from S Ryan Neal. Two more short gains by Raymond and Montgomery made it third-and-one on the midfield stripe. The Lions tried to catch the Bucs off guard by going over the top to LaPorta down the sideline but David stayed with him and was able to dislodge the ball from his hands at the last second. The Lions punted into the end zone for a touchback.

Good coverage downfield made Mayfield tuck it and run on first down but LB Alex Anzalone closed quickly and held him to just three yards. On third-and-six, Godwin ran a curl and Mayfield zipped it into his stomach for a first down at the 34, bringing the first quarter to a close. Vaughn ran twice after the break, gaining four but then losing six. On third-and-12, Mayfield found Evans past the sticks and delivered the ball on target but the veteran receiver couldn't haul it in. Camarda's 63-yard punt angled out of bounds at the Detroit five.

The Lions started the next possession with an incompletion and a Montgomery run that Diaby stopped after a gain of just three. Goff threw an underneath pass to St. Brown but Dean was on him immediately and pulled him down two yards short of the line to gain. Thompkins fair caught the ensuing punt at the Bucs' 42.

White jump-started the next drive with a spinning eight-yard run up the middle but the Bucs immediately gave five of them back with a false start. A swing pass to White didn't add any yards but Mayfield moved around in the pocket on third down and eventually found Palmer running left to right for a gain of 21 to the Lions' 34. Good blocks by Godwin and Durham helped White get seven yards on a tunnel screen and a defensive holding call on Detroit turned a third-and-three into a first down at the Lions' 22. Vaughn took a pitch right on first down and saw a cutback lane to get upfield for seven yards. Mayfield was hurried into a throw to a well-covered Vaughn on second down and the Bucs used a timeout with the play-clock expiring on third down. The resulting play didn't work as a short pass to Thompkins was broken up and Chase McLaughlin came on to slip a 33-yard field goal just inside the right upright to tie the game.

After a touchback, the Lions started the next drive with a 19-yard completion to Montgomery, but he had to be helped up and walked off the field after the play. Craig Reynolds replaced him in the backfield but gained just a yard on his first carry. WR Josh Reynolds found a big gap in the Bucs' zone on the next play to pick up 21 yards into Tampa Bay territory. A well-blocked bubble screen to St. Brown was good for eight more and Reynolds got to the 24 on a toss to make it first-and-10 at the 24. After backing up with a false start, the Lions fell into a third-and-13 thanks in part to a Goff scramble that turned into a zero-yard sack for the pursuing Tryon-Shoyinka. St. Brown was able to get that and more when he caught a crossing route and played off two perfect blocks to make it all the way to the right sideline and then up for a 27-yard touchdown.

The Bucs' next drive began at its own 23 with 2:35 left on the first-half clock. Mayfield faked a handoff on first down and sidearmed a hard pass to Otton for a gain of 15, bringing on the two-minute warning. After the break, Mayfield took a deep shot on a post to Palmer, who had gotten behind the defense, but the pass was just out of his reach. On third down, Mayfield tried to throw another quick tunnel screen to Palmer but LB Julian Okwara jumped the lane and deflected the pass, leading to a Camarda punt that went 57 yards into the opposing end zone for a touchback with 59 seconds before halftime.

Goff tried to hit LaPorta on the next two plays but they were both incomplete, leading to a third-and-10 that the Lions converted thanks to a dazzling spinning catch by Reynolds out to the Lions' 40. Detroit called its first timeout with 42 seconds on the clock. White made a diving interception on the next pass, which was thrown well out of LaPorta's reach. A well-timed blitz by David got to Goff for an eight-yard sack and the Lions then elected to let the clock run out.

Detroit got the ball first in the third quarter and faced a third-and-four after two plays. The Lions once again blocked up a bubble screen to perfection and Reynolds cut to the middle of the field for a gain of 28. After another first down got the ball to the Bucs' 31, upfield pressure by DL Calijah Kancey prompted Goff to turf a throw, and another backfield incursion by David led to a tackle for loss of three yards against Reynolds. Carlton Davis broke up a third-down pass to LaPorta that would have been another first down, so the Lions sent out Patterson to try from 52, and his try sailed just wide of the right upright.

That gave the Bucs good field position as they started their first drive of the half at their own 42. Mayfield faked a handoff on the next play and threw a short seam pass to Godwin, who turned it into a 23-yard gain, and a pass down the left hashmarks to Evans put the ball at the Lions' 17. It was third-and-one at the eight after a short swing pass to Thompkins. Mayfield faked a handoff and tried to hit Evans in the end zone on a fade but the Bucs' defender was flagged for offensive pass interference. The officials threw but then picked up a flag on the ensuing third down, leading the Bucs to send out McLaughlin for a 37-yard field goal to make it 10-6 at the midway point of the third quarter.

The Lions converted a third-and-four on Goff's 11-yard pass to St. Brown at the beginning of the next drive. They then appeared to do the same on third-and-one from the Bucs' 47 before they were hit with a holding call. That made it third-and-11, but Goff kept the drive alive with a 12-yard strike to Raymond. Goff threw incomplete under duress on the next snap and LaPorta dropped the ball on a second-down slant. On third-and-10, Goff threw deep to Williams, with S Ryan Neal in pursuit. Williams had to spin around to find the ball but he made an impressive catch while falling back into the end zone for a touchdown.

Thompkins was tripped up at the Bucs' 23 on the ensuing kickoff return and Mayfield got the Bucs a quick first down with a rollout 12-yard strike to Evans on the right sideline. Three plays later, however, Mayfield tried to hit Vaughn on a swing pass but, once again, his pass was batted down at the line and the Bucs had to punt.

Detroit started fresh from its own 29 and saw a potential third-and-six scenario transformed into a first-and-five at the Lions' 43 by back-to-back hands-to-the-face and encroachment penalties. As the fourth quarter began, St. Brown settled into a big hole in the Bucs' zone coverage and Goff hit him easily for a 23-yard gain into Bucs territory. Two more completions put the ball on the Bucs' 20-yard line but the defense clamped down after that. David dropped Reynolds for a short gain on second down and Tryon-Shoyinka got a hand on Goff's third-down pass. Patterson got another chance from 36 yards out and hit it to increase Detroit's lead to 20-6 with exactly 12 minutes left in regulation.

A scrambling eight-yard throw to Evans left the Bucs in a third-and-two at their 33 to start the next drive but Mayfield's attempt to hit Palmer down the left sideline was too long by a yard. The Bucs punted it back and stopped Raymond at the Lions' 16 with 10:37 left. St. Brown got six yards on a screen but the Lions gave five back with a false start. Two straight outs to the right sideline to St. Brown picked up the first down, and another short toss to the same receiver led to another first down at the Lions' 43. The next third down needed five yards to be converted and Goff did it with a 12-yard pass to LaPorta. The Buccaneers eventually used their first timeout of the half with the Lions facing a third-and-nine at their 39, and came out of the break with Kancey's first NFL sack. That led to a punt, which unfortunately bounced out off bounds at the two-yard lin with 3:45 left.

Two quick completions to White and Evans gave the Bucs some breathing room and a first down at the 18. Two plays later, Godwin caught a short pass over the middle and held on despite a punishing hit from S Tracy Walker that initially drew a flag before that one was picked up, too. Mayfield had to scramble on the next play and lost a yard to make it fourth-and-four. Godwin kept the Bucs' hopes alive with an eight-yard grab as the two-minute warning arrived.

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