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Despite a bye week to address and correct their flaws following a 36-27 loss to New Orleans, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3) appeared lifeless on Sunday and created a losing streak of two games in a 29-19 defeat to the Washington Football Team (3-6).

What went wrong in Landover? We tried to explain the issues in our takeaways below.

Turnovers bite once again, leaving the Bucs without answers offensively

This game fell into Washington's favor early on due to two interceptions thrown across Tom Brady's first six passes, giving the Football Team the ball at Tampa Bay's 28 and 31-yard lines. Each of those drives resulted in scores, contributing to Washington's 16 points across its first four drives in total.

By that point, the Bucs had dug themselves a hole that they couldn't get out of. The offense, limited from deep shots due to Cover 2-shell coverages per head coach Bruce Arians' analysis, played conservatively throughout the remainder of the first half and struggled to play in catch-up mode consistently in the second half.

The first scoring drive lasted 13 plays, traveling 68 yards and resulting in a field goal. The longest play of the drive was a 29-yard pass to rookie Jaelon Darden to get things rolling, although Tampa Bay did not surpass nine yards on another snap for the rest of the series. It ended with a one-yard Leonard Fournette carry and two incompletions targeting Giovani Bernard on goal-to-go before ending in a field goal.

The second, also ending in a field goal, was the final drive of the second half, Beginning with 0:58 on the clock at Tampa Bay's 25 (after losing five yards via a Tristan Wirfs false start), the Bucs ran seven plays to gain 58 yards. The clock expired after a 13-yard gain by Mike Evans to Washington's 25, but the Bucs were gifted the field goal try due to a facemask penalty while Evans was tackled.

Through 30 minutes of play, the Buccaneers' offense had done nothing to inspire confidence. Turnovers buried the team immediately, and offensive rhythm was nowhere to be found as a result. 

The Bucs were able to post two second-half touchdowns, but they were matched by Football Team scores which never allowed the Bucs to grasp a lead in the contest.

Tampa Bay's defense couldn't get necessary stops

It wasn't a wretched performance by the Bucs' defense as they only gave up 4.5 yards per play and limited Washington to 17 points on non-turnover generated drives, but the unit ultimately killed the team's chances at a comeback by failing to make necessary stops.

Things started off poorly when Washington converted on six of its seven third-down attempts, and was able to convert a second-quarter fourth down attempt after the only third down miss to that point. Three plays later, quarterback Taylor Heinicke connected with receiver DeAndre Carter for a 20-yard touchdown.

Washington finished having converted on 11-of-19 (58%) third-down attempts and 2-of-2 on fourth down. For context, Kansas City entered the weekend ranking No. 1 in the league on third down by converting 52.4% of the time.

The most embarrassing part of the game for Tampa Bay's defense beyond the miserable showing on conversion downs, though, was the unit's final drive on the field.

After the Bucs got the score within four points, Washington got the ball back with 10:55 left in regulation. The Football Team would proceed to burn 10:26 off the clock across 19 plays, traveling 80 yards, converting four-of-five third downs, and scoring on a 4th and goal one-yard rushing attempt by Antonio Gibson. It was the longest drive by time of possession in the NFL this year.

It wasn't as though Washington created a bunch of chunk plays, though. The longest gain of the drive was 16 yards via a Terry McLaurin screen. No other play went over seven yards - Washington simply inched its way down the field and Tampa Bay could do nothing about it.

Washington owned a 10-point lead with 0:31 left on the clock after Gibson's score, and the Bucs were out of timeouts. The game was over.

Is it time to have a discussion about Ryan Succop?

Not that it impacted the final result (although it would have if Tampa Bay's defense halted Washington's 19-play fourth quarter touchdown drive), but kicker Ryan Succop missed his second extra point of the season in the fourth quarter. 

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Should the Bucs have gotten a crucial stop on the Football Team's final series, the missed XP could have been a critical error, preventing Tampa Bay from potentially tying the game with a field goal if a touchdown was unattainable.

Entering Week 10 (this weekend's kicker stats were not updated when this story was published), only - kickers with a minimum of 15 attempts had posted two or more missed extra points: Dallas' Greg Zuerlein, New England's Nick Folk, Las Vegas' Daniel Carlson, and Los Angeles' (Chargers) Dustin Hopkins and Tristan Vizcaino. The Chargers signed Hopkins in late October to replace Vizcaino, after Hopkins was cut by Washington midseason.

Succop hasn't exactly been perfect on field goal attempts this year either, which makes this discussion worthwhile. Again, updated stats aren't available yet league-wide, but Succop entered the weekend ranking 26th among kickers with 10+ attempts with a field goal percentage of 72.7% (8-of-11). One of his misses was from 36 yards out against New England, and another was from 43 against Chicago - not exactly difficult kicks.

After making both of his attempts on Sunday, that percentage stands at 76.9% (10-of-13), which would have ranked 24th in the NFL entering the weekend.

These aren't exactly new issues, either. Succop missed a concerning five extra point attempts in 2020, although he made up for those misses with a dependable 28-of-31 line on field goals after the Bucs dealt with inconsistency at kicker in years prior.

However, while most will point to turnovers, penalties and inconsistency on defense being major problems for the Buccaneers this season, stability on one-point and three-point attempts is currently lacking. And considering Succop signed a three-year extension this offseason with the 11th-highest salary in the league at his position, extra points and average-distance field goals shouldn't be a struggle.

The Buccaneers stashed undrafted rookie kicker Jose Borregales on their practice squad after his preseason stay with the team. If Succop continues to deal with missed kicks, it might not be beyond the realm of possibility to see the team conduct a kicking competition in practice before the season ends.

Linebackers make splash plays

To give the Buccaneers a little bit of credit from Sunday's loss, the team's inside linebacker duo shined for the majority of the game. Devin White looked more like his 2020 form by making a handful of plays in the backfield, something he has rarely done throughout the 2021 season. His counterpart, Lavonte David, appears to be well past the ankle injury that sidelined the ten-year veteran for two games and some change.

White finished the game with a team-leading 18 total tackles, adding two sacks and three tackles for loss after failing to post a sack and accumulating just one TFL over the first eight games of the season. 

David, meanwhile, finished second on the team in tackles with 14 of his own. David wasn't a presence in the backfield as White was, although he forced a fumble in the fourth quarter which the Bucs' offense turned into a touchdown, narrowing Washington's lead to just four points and serving as a potential game-changing play.

Tampa Bay's defense needs its inside linebackers to create disruption in order to reach its full potential. That much could be seen in 2020 when White ranked second on the team in sacks with nine and first in tackles for loss with 15, while David compiled 12 TFLs and created four turnovers. 

Sunday's performance was a step in the right direction for a tandem that has otherwise underwhelmed this season.

Vita Vea's injury could prove detrimental

On the final play of Washington's excruciatingly long drive, defensive tackle Vita Vea went down with a knee injury and had to be carted off the field. Arians had no update regarding the severity of the injury, but shared that Vea "felt something" in his knee at the time of the injury.

Should the ailment be a major one, the Buccaneers could be without their best defensive lineman for another long stretch of a competitive season.

Vea was lost for the 2020 regular season in Week 5 last year after fracturing his ankle, although he was able to return for the NFC Championship and Super Bowl in late January/early February.

Tampa Bay's defense is not nearly as good this season as it was a year ago, and to make matters worse, it has been injury-plagued all year. Vea has been a bright spot and consistent presence against the run and rushing the passer amid the Bucs' defense struggles - should the injury sideline Vea for a while, the unit could be in trouble.

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