TAMPA BAY, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers returned to Raymond James Stadium for their first preseason home game of the preseason against the Detroit Lions. A late thunderstorm with lightning slowed things down a bit, delaying the game by an hour with an 8:59pm kickoff. However, the fans remained loyal, despite the rain.
The Lions entered Friday’s game with no wins this preseason, but they were looking to center Wesley Johnson to make a difference. For the Buccaneers’ part, they entered the game without 13 players, including Kendell Beckwith, Justin Evans, Vita Vea, Ali Marpet, Donovan Smith and Charles Sims III, who was placed on injured reserve this week.
Peyton Barber was the Bucs’ running man in the first quarter, taking the Bucs 66 yards to the game’s first touchdown with a 14-yard touchdown carry within the first four-and-a-half minutes.
Despite the Bucs defense, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford made a significant 36-yard pass play on their third down before Chris Conte could make the tackle, getting them in the red zone and bringing them back to first down.
On the Lions’ next third down, Stafford tried to make a touchdown pass, but Tampa’s Hargreaves broke it up, forcing Matt Prater to kick a 24-yard field goal to make sure the Lions were on the board. The score was 7-3 with 5:25 left in the quarter.
On the Bucs’ next run, Ronald Jones II completed the 37-yard pass straight out of the gate, sending the crowd into a roar. Quarterback Fitzpatrick had a close call on the third down, though–he was open for a sack for a good fifteen seconds while searching for a passing target before tossing the ball to O.J. Howard to get the first down.
On the next second down, Fitzpatrick was sacked by Sylvester Williams, costing the Bucs seven yards. On the third down, Fitzpatrick passed to Mike Evans, who completed the pass, but was flagged for a double play. In an interesting reaction, Evans remained on the ground for a few minutes, appearing to be injured, but once approached for help, he stood up fully intact and cursed the penalty call.
On the Lions’ next run, the Bucs kept the pressure on, stopping the run as much as possible. However on the third down, Tampa Bay’s Jordan Whitehead was hit with a pass interference penalty, giving the Lions an automatic first down within 20 yards of the goal. After a total of 13 plays, the Lions got on the board with another field goal, shrinking Tampa’s lead to one point: 7-6.
On the Bucs’ next scoring drive, Winston subbed in for Fitzpatrick. With four minutes left in the half, Winston made a successful 10-yard touchdown pass to Chris Godwin, bringing their lead to 13-6.
The most epic play of the first half came on the Lions’ final fourth down of the half with just seven seconds left. The Lions attempted a 63-yard field goal, which Tampa Bay’s Adam Humphries returned for a 109-yard touchdown, closing out the half with a score of 20-6.
In the Bucs first drive out of halftime, Ryan Griffin completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Freddie Martino, spreading the Bucs lead to 27-6.
With less than four minutes left in the third quarter, Detroit’s Theo Riddick ran the ball 10 yards for the team’s first tocuhdown of the game, bringing the score to 27-13.
With 1:15 left in the third quarter, the Lions attempted a 53-yard field goal, which hit the left goalpost. However, the Bucs were hit with an illegal formation penalty, allowing the Lions to replay their fourth down, and that’s all it took. The Lions made a one-yard carry for the first down and continued their scoring drive until the end of the third quarter.
The Lions scored their next touchdown in the red zone in the fourth quarter with QB Matt Cassel’s three-yard touchdown toss to Bradley Marquez. Tampa Bay’s Cameron Lynch was close enough to break up the pass, but wasn’t quick enough to make a move. The Lions were at that point one touchdown away from tying the game. However, the Buccaneers extended the lead with their first field goal of the game, making the score 30-20.
With five minutes left in the game, the Lions’s Powell took a page from Humphries’ book, making an 80-yard touchdown punt return, making the score 30-26. The Lions attempted a two-point conversion, but the pass was incomplete.
The Detroit Lions turned the tables near the end, blindsiding the Bucs with a touchdown to snatch the lead, making the final score 33-30.
The Bucs next host the Jacksonville Jaguars Thursday, August 30 at 7:30pm.
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org