Pictures from the Buccaneers' Week 2 matchup with the Cardinals.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won't be bringing an undefeated record back from the desert.
Seeking its first 2-0 start since 2010, Tampa Bay instead ran into a red-hot Arizona Cardinals team seeking to avenge its own Week One loss. The result was a one-sided 40-7 win for Arizona at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday. Both teams are now 1-1; the Buccaneers will return to Tampa for their home opener against the Los Angeles Rams in Week Three.
"It's a humbling league and we got humbled today," said Buccaneers Head Coach Dirk Koetter. "We got beat up all over the field, and hats off to the Cardinals for a job well done. I didn't do a good enough job getting these guys ready to go. We turned it over way, way, way too many times. You can't get beat like that in turnovers and expect to win. We got a nice little reality check today. We'll put it to bed tomorrow and get back to work on Wednesday and get ready for the Rams."
Tampa Bay also remains in a tie for first-place in the NFC South, as Carolina's win over San Francisco and Atlanta's victory in Oakland on Sunday created a three-way tie of 1-1 teams at the top. New Orleans lost to the New York Giants to fall to 0-2.
The Buccaneers committed three first-half turnovers and were trailing 24-0 by halftime. Cardinals QB Carson Palmer, rarely pressured, completed 18 of 31 passes for 308 yards and three touchdowns. His favorite target was perennial Pro Bowl WR Larry Fitzgerald, who scored the game's first points on a four-yard catch one play into the second quarter. Fitzgerald finished with six catches for 81 yards.
One week after throwing four touchdowns in Atlanta to earn NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston had a tough afternoon. While he did put up 247 yards on 27-of-52 passing, he was also intercepted four times, including one final pick on a desperation heave to the end zone as time ran out. The second of his four interceptions set up a Chandler Catanzaro field goal in the second quarter, and his fumble later in the period ended a Buccaneer scoring threat and led to Palmer's one-yard touchdown toss to WR Michael Floyd. Winston's fumble was caused by a backfield collision with RB Charles Sims. Sims took on a much bigger role in the offense after a hamstring injury knocked Doug Martin from the game in the first half.
"Jameis made some nice plays," said Koetter. "He made some plays he'd like to have back. He missed high sometimes but he also made some nice throws. He was under duress multiple times. We'll know more after we look at the tape. Jameis can play a lot better."
Winston's third interception was the result of a tipped pass that went through Sims' hands and straight into those of CB Marcus Cooper, who returned it 60 yards for a touchdown. Turnovers accounted for the lopsided score, as the Bucs lost that battle, 5-0, and Arizona scored 17 points off their takeaways. Two games into the season, Tampa Bay's defense is still looking for its first takeaway. In Week One, the Bucs won a game without benefit of a takeaway for just the 10th time in team history.
"We're minus-six on the year, minus-six on turnovers – that's the number-one stat in football," said Koetter. "We were able to overcome it last week and still get the win. There's a whole bunch of other stats that factor in there, but the big thing was the four turnovers, including a pick-six off a tip that put our defense in a horrible position today."
Winston and the Buccaneers did come out hot to start the second half, going no-huddle and driving 75 yards for a score. Winston hit WR Mike Evans on a 19-yard pass to cap it, and Evans finished the game with six receptions for 70 yards. However, a second strong drive in the third quarter ended up going in the other direction on Cooper's pick-six.
"We came back with a mission to go down and score, and we scored," said Winston. "We've just got to keep doing it. They're a great team. I believe we're a good team, too, but I can't put us behind the eight ball with five turnovers."
Martin wasn't the only Buccaneer to suffer injury misfortune. Tight end Luke Stocker and defensive end Robert Ayers left in the first half with ankle injuries and wide receiver Cecil Shorts was knocked out with a hamstring strain on his first reception as a Buccaneer. That led to larger roles on the day for Sims, running back Jacquizz Rodgers and rookie defensive end Noah Spence. Spence recorded his first career sack on a third-quarter takedown of Palmer that forced Arizona to settle for a field goal.
"It takes out one of the best running backs in the league, so of course [it hurt]," said Koetter of Martin's hamstring strain. "We had multiple guys – we lost Luke Stocker in the first half, we lost Doug, Robert Ayers was in and out. We had a few guys out, but nobody feels sorry for you for that. You've got to keep playing."
The visitors appeared to gain some early momentum with a quick stop on Arizona's first drive thanks to Alterraun Verner's two straight passes defensed, followed by a drive that crossed midfield. However, after picking up three first downs the Bucs went deep and Winston's throw to Evans was a little too long and intercepted in the end zone by Patrick Peterson. Peterson ran it back out to the Arizona 25.
Arizona flipped field position on the Bucs even though Bradley McDougald's third-down PBU once again brought a quick end to an Arizona drive. Drew Butler punted down to the Bucs' seven-yard line, where Adam Humphries fielded it but was immediately run over by special teams ace Justin Bethel.
That paid off in a touchdown drive the next time Arizona had the ball. DT Gerald McCoy nearly ended the march near midfield with a sack of Palmer, but the Cardinals QB flipped the ball to RB Andre Ellington as he was falling to convert a third down. Palmer then went repeatedly to Fitzgerald, hitting him for 25 yards to the Bucs' 28, then 11 more to convert a third-down and finally on a four-yard touchdown. McCoy's encroachment penalty on third-and-three had made it first-and-goal at the four one play earlier.
Two plays later, Arizona got its second takeaway when CB Marcus Cooper snared a dart that was intended for Jackson but whizzed right past the receiver before he could get his head turned around. The Bucs' defense held, with Verner again on the spot on a third-and-goal pass attempt to Floyd, but the Cardinals still made it a 10-0 game on Chandler Catanzaro's 22-yard field goal three minutes into the second quarter.
A fine punt by Bryan Anger dropped inside the Arizona 10 and a sure tackle by Hargreaves on TE Daniel Fells on third down forced an Arizona punt that Humphries returned almost to the midfield stripe. Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians challenged the return, believing Humphries stepped out of bounds earlier in his return, but the call stood. A sharp third-down pass to TE Cameron Brate got the ball down to the Arizona 30, but two plays later the Bucs committed their third turnover on what appeared to be a bit of miscommunication. Winston fumbled while pulling the ball back to throw because his arm hit Sims, who looked as if he was expecting a draw-play handoff.
Arizona turned that takeaway into points, too. Palmer converted a third-and-10 three plays into the drive with a 27-yard strike to a wide-open Jaron Brown, then got 16 more on a sideline pass to David Johnson. Palmer then found Fitzgerald again for a 25-yard strike down to the one-yard line. Three plays later, Floyd got open in the back of the end zone and Palmer found him easily for a 17-point lead with 90 seconds left in the half.
Three straight incompletions for the Bucs' offense allowed Arizona one last shot before halftime and they took advantage with a surgical 74-yard touchdown drive ending in Palmer's 51-yard strike to Jaron Brown.
The Buccaneers elected to go with a hurry-up attack to start the second half and it worked, as Winston directed an impressive 75-yard touchdown drive on 11 plays. Humphries caught three passes for 38 yards on the march, including a 24-yard catch-and-run that countered an offensive pass-interference call on Evans. On third-and-12 from the 19, Winston threw to Evans, who made a nice adjustment on the ball, spinning to take it over his outside shoulder for the score.
Unfortunately, David Johnson answered immediately with a 58-yard ramble after a short pass on the Cardinals' next play from scrimmage. That set up a 40-yard Catanzaro field goal after Brent Grimes couldn't hold on to a potential diving interception in the end zone. Rookie DE Noah Spence recorded his first career sack on third down to force the Cardinals to settle for three points and a 27-7 lead.
The Bucs were driving again on their next possession before a disastrous play led to seven more points for the Falcons. Winston's attempted screen pass to Sims was tipped at the line by DT Josh Mauro. Sims couldn't haul in the fluttering pass that resulted and it deflected directly into the hands of Cooper, who ran 60 yards for the touchdown. Catanzaro missed the extra point to keep it at 33-7.
The Bucs drove back into Arizona territory on the next drive but came away without points when rookie K Roberto Aguayo pushed a 45-yard field goal a bit outside the right upright. Arizona took the resulting possession 65 yards on eight plays for another touchdown, this one courtesy of Chris Johnson's three-yard run.