The Bucs won the toss and elected to defer. Cleveland got to midfield on their first possession before a third-down sack by defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul forced the Browns to punt. It made for the fifth straight game Pierre-Paul has recorded a sack and his sixth of the season for the Buccaneers.
The punt was downed at the one-yard line and running back Peyton Barber just barely made it back to the line of scrimmage before he was stuffed. On second down, the Bucs tried running it again but this time Barber wasn't so lucky and was tackled in the end zone for a safety.
The Browns' went three-and-out in the next series following the safety. The Bucs moved the ball on the ensuing possession and got just outside the red zone before being stopped. Kicker Chandler Catanzaro was good from 38 yards to put the Bucs up 3-2 with 3:02 left in the first quarter.
The next Browns' possession would yield another three-and-out. The Bucs got the ball back and drove down the field, with Jameis Winston spreading the ball out to four different receivers. The drive ended with a 14-yard touchdown run that came on an end-around to wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Catanzaro would miss the extra point to make the score 9-2.
View photos of the Week 7 game against the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns would go three-and-out for the third straight possession behind another good effort by the Buccaneer defense, including defensive end Carl Nassib dropping into coverage and breaking up a pass.
After a couple of key penalties on the Browns inside the 10-yard line, the Bucs found themselves with a fresh set of downs at the four. Running back Peyton Barber took a handoff into the end zone before the Bucs were then called on a holding penalty that backed them up to the 14-yard line. On first-and-14, quarterback Jameis Winston ended up taking it himself and diving into the end zone for the touchdown. Catanzaro was good for the extra point and the Bucs extended their lead to 16-2 with 7:48 left in the half.
The Browns made it to midfield before the Buccaneers defense was able to shut them down and force another punt. The Bucs' next possession would be stalled as quarterback Jameis Winston was picked off by linebacker Christian Kirksey lined up on tight end O.J. Howard. Cleveland would fail to capitalize as the Bucs forced a punt on a big third down sack by defensive end and former Brown Carl Nassib.
The next Bucs' series would result in another turnover as Winston completed a pass to tight end Cameron Brate who had the ball knocked out at the Bucs' own 19-yard line. Tampa Bay would hold Cleveland to bring up a fourth-down-and-2 where quarterback Baker Mayfield kept the ball. He initially got the first down before linebacker Lavonte David forced a fumble in which the ball went backwards and out of bounds, by rule meaning a turnover on downs. The Bucs would take a knee on the last play of the half knowing they were due the ball to start the second half and went into halftime leading 16-2.
On the second play of the Bucs' opening drive of the half, Winston had the ball stripped out of his hands by Myles Garrett, resulting in a fumble recovered by Cleveland at the Tampa Bay 26-yard line. Mayfield would connect with tight end David Njoku on a 15-yard touchdown pass to pull Cleveland within one score, 16-9.
A couple more penalties and despite getting as far as the Cleveland 28-yard line, Tampa Bay was forced back into a third-and-25 situation and was forced to punt on the next possession.
On first down, Mayfield was chased outside the pocket and brought down for a sack by linebacker Adarius Taylor for his first on the year. The next play, defensive end Will Gholston managed another sack on Mayfield for the Bucs' third of the game, bringing up third-and-16, which the Browns would not be able to convert.
The Bucs fought their way down the field and after a 24-yard pass from Winston to tight end O.J. Howard, the Bucs had first-and-goal from the two-yard line. Rookie running back Ronald Jones ran it in for the score, putting the Bucs up 23-9 after the extra point with 28 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Browns answered on their next drive, taking it all the way down before their rookie running back ran it in from the one-yard-line. It closed the gap to within one score but the Bucs still led 23-16 with 12:17 left in the game.
The next possession saw Tampa Bay come up empty and be forced to punt for the second time in the game. The Bucs had the Browns in a second-and-26 situation before Mayfield took off and got the first down in Bucs' territory.
After getting to the one-yard-line, the Bucs were able to hold the Browns and prevent the score, preserving their 23-16 lead with less than five minutes left in the game. The Bucs' offense wouldn't be able to do anything on their next possession and be forced to punt it away. Browns moved the ball in just two plays and were into the end zone on a 16-yard pass to receiver Jarvis Landry and tied the game at 23 apiece with 2:28 left in the game.
The Bucs moved down the field and got a first down knocking on the door at the 24-yard-line. Tampa Bay ran the clock down to two seconds to set up a 40-yard field goal. Catanzaro pulled the kick wide right, forcing the game into overtime.
The Browns were stopped on their first possession of overtime by the Bucs defense. A long punt and wide attempted return by Adam Humphries had the Bucs starting their first possession of overtime at the 11-yard-line. After an illegal shift penalty, Winston was picked off by linebacker Jamie Collins at the Tampa Bay 45-yard-line, meaning the game was in sudden death.
The Browns were stopped in dramatic fashion on a huge third-down sack by defensive end Carl Nassib for his second of the day on his former team, forcing Cleveland to punt. The Bucs came up empty on their next possession as well, punting the ball right back. On the return, Cleveland coughed up the ball and the Bucs recovered at the Browns' 48-yard-line.
A couple costly sacks and the Bucs managed to get it only to the Browns' 41-yard line. Chandler Catanzaro then came on to attempt a 59-yard field goal and made it to make the final score 26-23.