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Takeaways from Buccaneers-Bills | Week 8 

Top observations from the Buccaneers 24-18 loss to the Bills in Week Eight


Despite an early 10-0 deficit inside Highmark Stadium on Thursday Night Football, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rallied back and had a chance to win the showdown. A failed Hail Mary attempt as time expired set the final score at 24-18. The Bucs now sit at 3-4 and are tied with the New Orleans Saints behind the division-leader, Atlanta Falcons. Overall, the same recurring issues surfaced for the visiting team. During the 60-minute battle, penalties and third-down inefficiency on both sides of the football once again plagued the Bucs, hindering their production. Tampa Bay accumulated 11 flags for 74 yards, including four false starts.

"If it's not missing a block here and there, then it's a penalty here or there," said Head Coach Todd Bowles. "We've got to clean it up together. It's got to be clicking on all cylinders. When we get all our blocks, we get penalties; when we don't get penalties, we don't get all of our blocks here and there. Last week, it was one thing, this week, it's another thing. We've just got to keep chopping at it and get better at it. That's as best as those can be – if everything clicks at the same time."

Offensive Output

Overall, Tampa Bay's offense posted 302 yards with late-game heroics, including 78 yards on 17 carries for an average of 4.6 yards a tote. Running back Rachaad White spearheaded the passing attack, posting 70 yards on seven receptions. As the Bills' defense shifted coverages to account for Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, White was able to showcase his prowess in the open field down the perimeter off screens. Then, when Sean McDermott utilized a two-high shell with the safeties back, Godwin was able to capitalize on speed outs. With physicality after the catch, Godwin picked up 54 yards on five receptions, including a touchdown in the second quarter.

The touchdown, prompted by a William Gholston interception, ignited the Bucs. White brought the offense to first-and-goal down the sideline on a screen, with Robert Hainsey serving as the move blocker in space. On the ensuing play-fake, Mayfield connected with Godwin for the score to tie the game at 10. Taron Johnson had inside leverage and Godwin made a hard cut to the outside, then quickly cut across Johnson's body to gain an advantage inside to make the catch. The sensational route gave the Bucs a much-needed boost. Josh Allen responded, leading methodical touchdown drives before and after the half, providing a 14-point cushion. In a late game surge, gifted by a pair of Bills' penalties (illegal contact and facemask), the Bucs reached the end zone. Mike Evans capped off a 17-play 92-yard drive with a touchdown. Evans started off on the far-right side of the formation and made his way to the left on a crossing route. The ball bounced off the defender's helmet and Evans displayed body control and acute concentration to make the grab. Cade Otton caught the two-point conversion attempt, trimming the deficit, 24-18. The Bucs were able to get into position for a last-ditch effort at the end zone, but the deep bomb was just out of reach for Godwin.

"We fought our tails off," noted Bowles. "I thought everybody fought their tails off tonight. The effort wasn't the problem. We hung together, we were tough, we clawed, we scratched, we fought our way back in there. Buffalo did a good job – you've got to give them credit."

Defensive Effort

Josh Allen and the Bills amassed 427 yards of offense in their Week Eight victory. Tampa Bay's stingy red zone defense, which had a league-best 22.2% touchdown percentage allowed coming into the matchup, kept the Bucs in the game early as the offense found its footing. A third-down open-field tackle by rookie Christian Izien versus Stefon Diggs forced Buffalo to settle for a field goal on their first possession, and cornerback Jamel Dean broke up a fourth-and-goal pass intended for Dalton Kincaid in the second quarter. Kincaid went in motion and Devin White initially flowed with Kincaid in man coverage, then communicated and passed him off to Dean, who batted down the pass. That red zone stop solidified the Bucs' defense and reinvigorated the offense.

From second-and-12, Josh Allen ripped off a 13-yard touchdown rush in the second quarter and threw touchdown passes to Dalton Kincaid and Gabe Davis. Davis, who had nine catches for 87 yards, was one of four Bills' pass-catchers that surpassed 65 yards on the night. Kincaid scored in the second quarter on a 22-yard pitch from Allen. The threat of a quarterback keeper, led to a void over the middle of the field as the Bucs took the bait, and the Bills took advantage. Early in the third quarter, the Bills went up-tempo, and Davis served as the beneficiary. On the scoring play, the Bills ran two crossing routes with Diggs and Davis moving to opposite sides of the end zone. Miscommunication led to a lapse in coverage with no one on Davis. That 75-yard, nine-play drive gave the Bills a significant 24-10 lead.

Third downs once again became a problem for Tampa Bay's defense, which came into the clash ranked last (conversion rate allowed of 50.0%.) Buffalo converted on seven of 13 tries. Lavonte David led the unit with 15 tackles and a pass defensed. Anthony Nelson and Yaya Diaby each recorded sacks and Antoine Winfield Jr. tipped/ forced an errant throw off a blitz, which led to a William Gholston interception in the second quarter. Subsequently, Mayfield threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Godwin two plays later.

"Not executing the blitz and sometimes not executing the coverage," Bowles described on the team's third-down defense. "It goes hand in hand. We can't rush the passer without covering and we can't cover without rushing the passer. When one is good, the other one breaks down; when the other one is good, something else breaks down. We've got to be on the same page, and we've got to communicate there."

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