The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Arizona Cardinals by five points on Sunday, the second straight week that they had come up short by that exact margin. However, while their 19-14 defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots in Week Five was a typical dogfight that came down to the wire, the game in Arizona was unlike any in team history.
The Buccaneers scored 33 of the game's final 40 points but still lost, 38-33. That's because they found themselves down, 31-0, early in the second half. The rally that followed was a furious one, but in the end that initial deficit was too much to overcome. As Head Coach Dirk Koetter said after the game, the first two quarters constituted "the worst first half of football I have ever seen in my life," and the opening minutes of the second half weren't much better.
A behind-the-scenes look at the Buccaneers' Week 6 matchup with the Cardinals.
"The story is you can't spot a NFL team 31 points and think you're going to come back," said Koetter, who also gave the appropriate credit to a Cardinals team that came out firing on all cylinders. "You can't spot a NFL team any points. Like I said, it's disappointing and it's embarrassing and it starts with me."
In essence, there will be no silver linings or good feelings after this one, though the team will strive as always to follow Koetter's "24-hour rule" and move on quickly to preparing for a Week Seven game in Buffalo. Still, from a statistical standpoint there were some remarkable occurrences on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium, including at least one that had never before happened in 42 seasons of Buccaneer football. Let's take a look at some of those.
Most notably, the 27 points the Buccaneers scored in the fourth quarter marked the single-most prolific period in franchise history. It was only the third time the team had scored more than 21 points in any given quarter.
Highest Scoring Quarters, Buccaneers History
|Green Bay||11/22/81||2nd||24||W, 37-3|
The Buccaneers' 27 points in the final period are the most any NFL team has scored in a fourth quarter in four seasons. The last team to put up at least that many in the fourth was Philadelphia, which tallied 28 points in the final period on Dec. 8, 2013 to beat Detroit, 34-20. Unfortunately, Tampa Bay is also the first team to accomplish that fourth-quarter feat in a loss in over a decade. The New York Giants scored 27 points in the fourth quarter against Seattle on Sept. 24, 2006 but still fell, 42-30.
The Buccaneers' 27-point fourth period is the highest scoring quarter by any team in the NFL this season. The 33 points the team tallied in the second half is the second-most post-halftime points any team has scored this year; Seattle notched 36 second-half points in a 46-18 win over Indianapolis on Oct. 1. Those 33 points after halftime marked the team's second-highest total in any game half in franchise history. The record is 35, which the team put up on Nov. 4, 2012 in a 42-32 victory at Oakland.
Five different players scored touchdowns for the Bucs on Sunday. DeSean Jackson, Cameron Brate and Mike Evans all hauled in touchdown receptions, Doug Martin found the end zone on a one-yard run and Lavonte David pitched in on defense with a 21-yard fumble return for a score. That's the first time since Nov. 22, 2015 that five different Bucs found the end zone in a single game; six did so in that 45-17 win at Philadelphia (Evans, Brate, David, Vincent Jackson, Russell Shepard and Charles Sims).
Brate's touchdown gave him a team-high four on the season, which he has tallied by scoring once in each of the last four games. b If Brate scores in Buffalo, he'll break the record for all Buccaneer players, regardless of position.
Most Consecutive Games with a Touchdown Reception, Buccaneers History
|Cameron Brate||TE||4||Sept. 24 - Oct. 15, 2017|
|Mike Evans||WR||4||Nov. 2-23, 2014|
|Mike Williams||WR||4||Dec. 19, 2010 - Sept. 11, 2011|
|Antonio Bryant||WR||4||Nov. 30 - Dec. 21, 2008|
|Joey Galloway||WR||4||Oct. 16 - Nov. 13, 2005|
|Joey Galloway||WR||4||Dec. 5-26, 2004|
|Bruce Hill||WR||4||Oct. 16 - Nov. 6, 1988|
Brate is the only player in the NFL who has an active streak of four consecutive games with at least one receiving touchdown. New England wide receiver Chris Hogan also had a four-game streak that ended on Oct. 5. Brate's streak is the longest for any tight end in the NFL since Jacksonville's Julius Thomas had touchdown catches in four straight games from Nov. 19 to Dec. 13, 2015. If Brate scores in Buffalo, he'll match the longest such streak by an NFL tight end in the last five seasons.
Most Consecutive Games with a TD Reception, NFL Tight Ends, 2013-17
|Rob Gronkowski||NE||5||Dec. 7 2014 - Sept. 20, 2015|
|Julius Thomas||DEN||5||Sept. 7 - Oct. 12, 2014|
|Vernon Davis||SF||5||Nov. 17 - Dec. 15, 2013|
|Cameron Brate||TB||4||Sept. 24 - Oct. 15, 2017|
|Julius Thomas||JAX||4||Nov. 19 - Dec. 13, 2015|
|Gary Barnidge||CLE||4||Sept. 27 - Oct. 18, 2015|
|Antonio Gates||SD||4||Oct. 5-23, 2014|
|Tony Gonzalez||ATL||4||Dec. 1-23, 2013|
|Marcedes Lewis||JAX||4||Dec. 1-22, 2013|
|Rob Gronkowski||NE||4||Nov. 3 - Dec. 1, 2013|
|Jimmy Graham||NO||4||Sept. 8-30, 2013|
Brate tied for the NFL lead in touchdown catches among tight ends last year, equaling the eight tallied by San Diego's Hunter Henry. As the Buccaneer tight end has continued to pile on the touchdowns this year, he's taken himself beyond his position and into a group of the league's top scorers, period. Since the start of 2016, Brate has the seventh-most touchdown receptions among all NFL players.
Most Touchdown Receptions, NFL, 2016-17
|1. Jordy Nelson||GB||WR||20|
|2. Davante Adams||GB||WR||17|
|3. Mike Evans||TB||WR||15|
|4. Antonio Brown||PIT||WR||14|
|5t. Odell Beckham||NYG||WR||13|
|5t. Michael Crabtree||OAK||WR||13|
|7. Cameron Brate||TB||TE||12|
|8t. Dez Bryant||DAL||WR||11|
|8t. Kenny Stills||MIA||WR||11|
|8t. Michael Thomas||NO||WR||11|
Evans, of course, is also in that top 10 after he grabbed his third touchdown pass of the season on Sunday and his 15th since the beginning of the 2016 campaign. Obviously, that makes Brate and Evans one of the most prolific pairs of teammates in the league in terms of catching TD tosses.
Most Touchdown Receptions, Two Teammates, NFL, 2016-17
|**Team**||**Player #1**||**Rec. TDs.**||**Player #2**||**Rec. TDs**||**Total**|
|GB||Jordy Nelson||20||Davante Adams||17||37|
|TB||Mike Evans||15||Cameron Brate||12||27|
|NYG||Odell Beckham||13||Sterling Shepard||9||22|
|NO||Michael Thomas||11||Brandin Cooks *||8||19|
|DAL||Dez Bryant||11||Cole Beasley||7||18|
( Cooks is now with New England, but his TD total in 2016 alone still helps him and Thomas make this list.)
In last week's edition of "Data Crunch," we noted that both Brate and wide receiver Adam Humphries were on the verge of hauling in their respective 100th career receptions. That's a notable shared achievement for two players who arrived in Tampa as undrafted free agents. As last Friday's article noted, Brate and Humphries are among the most prolific undrafted pass-catchers in Buccaneer history and also rank high among their contemporaries in recent seasons.
Both players did manage to hit triple digits in their careers on Sunday in Arizona, as they happened to tie for the Buccaneers' team lead with six receptions each. That left Humphries at 105 and Brate at 102. Here are the charts from last week's article comparing those two to former Buccaneers and current undrafted players around the NFL, updated to reflect the action this past weekend.
*Most Receptions, Undrafted Players, Buccaneers History
Most Receptions First Three Seasons, Undrafted Players, Buccaneers History
Most Touchdowns, Undrafted Players, Buccaneers History
Most Receptions, 2015 Undrafted Players, NFL, 2015-17
Most Career Receptions, NFL Rookie Class of 2015
|**Player**||**Team**||**Pos.**||**Draft Round (Overall)**||**Recs.**||**Yards**||**TDs**|
|Amari Cooper||OAK||WR||1 (4)||173||2,369||12|
|Stefon Diggs||MIN||WR||5 (146)||159||2,018||11|
|Jamison Crowder||WAS||WR||4 (105)||143||1,572||9|
|Duke Johnson||CLE||RB||3 (77)||140||1,317||3|
|David Johnson||AZ||RB||3 (86)||122||1,403||8|
|Tyler Lockett||SEA||WR||3 (69)||108||1,456||7|
|DeVante Parker||MIA||WR||1 (14)||101||1,474||8|
Unlike his rising-star teammates, Mike Evans was not an undrafted free agent. Rather, the Buccaneers nabbed him seventh overall in 2014 and he has proved to be one of the most astute draft selections in franchise history. Not even halfway through his fourth season, Evans has already placed himself among the team's all-time performers in a variety of receiving categories. With his 95 yards in Arizona, for instance, Evans passed Joey Galloway for fifth place in Buc history in career receiving yards.
Most Career Receiving Yards, Buccaneers History
Perhaps most remarkably, Evans has needed only 51 games and 50 starts to become just the fifth player in franchise history to hit the 30-touchdown mark. He already stands third all-time in touchdown receptions in Buc annals and needs five more to become the all-time leader.
Most Career Touchdowns Scored, Buccaneers History
The touchdown passes caught by Evans, Brate and Jackson on Sunday in Arizona all came on throws from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who entered the game after Jameis Winston left in the second quarter with a shoulder injury. Fitzpatrick had thrown a single incomplete pass during the Buccaneers' season-opening win over Chicago, but this was his first extended regular-season playing time in Tampa. Fitzpatrick completed 22 of 32 passes for 290 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, compiling a passer rating of 102.3. That marked the 17th time in his career he's thrown three TD passes in a game, and the 28th time he's finished a contest with a passer rating of 100 or better.
Fitzpatrick is in his 13th NFL season, during which he has played for seven different franchises. He has now thrown a touchdown pass for all of those franchises and has become just the fourth player in NFL history to throw a TD pass with seven different teams. Coincidentally, three of those four passers have played for the Buccaneers.
|Chris Chandler||1988-2004||IND, **TB**, AZ, LAR, HOU, ATL, CHI|
|Ryan Fitzpatrick||2005-17||STL, CIN, BUF, TEN, HOU, NYJ, **TB**|
|Gus Frerotte||1994-2008||WAS, DET, DEN, CIN, MIN, MIA, STL|
|Vinny Testaverde||1987-2007||**TB**, CLE, BAL, NYJ, DAL, NE, CAR|
( Team abbreviations indicate the franchise as it is currently known. Testaverde only makes the list of seven different teams if one considers the pre-1995 Cleveland Browns and the expansion 1996 Baltimore Ravens as two different franchises.)*