The Buccaneers looked to be in control of the majority of the game but ended up dropping this one to the Browns late in the 4th quarter and overtime. Brady was efficient, but the ground game struggled as the Bucs once again relied on their defense to keep them in the game. With a score by David Njoku late in the 4th, the Browns forced overtime, which eventually saw them take the top off the Bucs' defense and win 23-17.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were looking for their third win in a row after wins over the Los Angeles Rams, the Seattle Seahawks, and their bye as they made their way to Cleveland to face off against the Browns.
The first half of the game provided little excitement as there were not a ton of explosive plays made by either team. The Cleveland Browns made quick work on their opening drive as they drove down the field and scored on a 31-yard double reverse to Anthony Schwartz. The Buccaneers only touchdown in the first half came on a 10-yard TD pass from Tom Brady to Chris Godwin on the Bucs' opening possession. Rachaad White was featured early and often as he got his second start of the season with Leonard Fournette being ruled out due to his hip injury.
There was worry early on that the Bucs could be without some of their top players in the secondary due to injuries suffered in the first half. Mike Edwards went out with an unspecified injury but later returned to the game. Carlton Davis III had an interception in his hands, but couldn't haul it in. At the end of the play, it appeared that Davis took a shot to the face, but he also was able to return to the game. Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. was being evaluated for a concussion, but was cleared and able to return to the game.
With the first half being pretty uneventful, Jacoby Brissett took a shot at the endzone with no time left on the clock to try and put more points on the board before half, but the pass was intercepted by Mike Edwards in the endzone. The teams went into the half tied 10-10.
The second half provided much more than the first, it started with a 5-yard pass from Tom Brady to rookie tight end, Ko Kieft. The score by Kieft was the first touchdown of his NFL career. Up until the second half the Bucs' offense was put heavily on the shoulders of wide receiver Chris Godwin. Mike Evans was finally able to get involved in the second half on a 26-yard catch. On Evans next reception, he reached the 10,000 receiving yards mark - becoming the 10th WR in NFL history to reach the mark in their first 9 seasons.
The Buccaneers' defense started to gain some traction in the second half. All of the Bucs' sacks on the day came in the second. Anthony Nelson, Keanu Neal, "Nacho" Nunez-Roches, Devin White, and Carl Nassib all got involved in bringing Browns' quarterback Jacoby Brissett to the ground. Devin White had himself a game as he was all over the field and felt like he was in the middle of every play - quite the turnaround for the Bucs' star linebacker from the beginning of the season.
The game became much more physical in the second half. With only the Bucs' touchdown early in the second half, they held the lead until deep into the 4th quarter before the Browns were finally able to put together a drive that wound up with a one-handed touchdown catch by David Njoku to tie the game up at 17 with just under one minute of clock remaining.
Despite a big gain from Julio Jones, the Bucs were forced into a hail-mary situation that didn't work out as the ball fell to the turf ending regulation.
The Buccaneers won the coin toss to start OT and selected to receive the ball first. The Bucs were able to methodically work their way down the field on the opening drive of overtime but shot themselves in the foot thanks to an illegal hands-to-face penalty on Donovan Smith. The Bucs weren't able to convert on third and long and were forced to punt the ball to the Browns who took over at their own 21-yard line. The Browns weren't able to get anything going on their opening drive of overtime as they too were impacted due to a penalty and were forced to punt the ball back to Tampa Bay.
During the Bucs' second drive of overtime All-Pro tackle Tristan Wirfs appeared to have suffered a serious leg injury. He was able to be helped up by his teammates and carted off the field. With all momentum killed on their second drive, the Bucs were once again forced to punt the ball back to the Browns.
On the first play of their next drive, the Browns get a splash play to Amari Cooper around midfield. After the two-minute warning in OT, the Browns ripped off two runs on first and second down before a 45-yard bomb from Jacoby Brissett to Amari Cooper.
The leaders for the Bucs' offense saw the running game struggle again as Rachaad White only saw 14 carries for a total of 64 yards and 0 touchdowns. Chris Godwin had himself a day as he caught 12 of his 13 targets for 110 yards and a score. Brady had an efficient day, although he was unable to form a connection with Mike Evans, going 29/43 for 246 yards and two touchdowns.
All in all, it appears that the Bucs still have a lot of work to do when it comes to their offense. The inconsistency and stalled drives won't allow for them to get into a rhythm. This seems to be the case all season long - the Bucs' defense keeping them in games because the offense cannot figure out how to get things going. Now 5-6, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers turn their attention to a divisional game against the Saints on Monday Night Football.
Stick with BucsGameday for more coverage of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throughout the season.