TAMPA, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a rough preseason start during their opener against Cincinnati Bengals Saturday.
Bucs starting quarterback Tom Brady got sacked in the first three minutes of the game.
At 8:19 in the first, on the Bengals’ third down, Lavonte David recovered the fumble, bringing the ball back to Tampa possession.
Blaine Gabbert came in at quarterback for the Bucs on the next drive. His first play, a pass intended for Jaelon Darden, was broken up by Bengals cornerback Darius Phillips. His next pass, intended for Tanner Hudson was also incomplete. The third time was the charm, with a successful pass to OJ Howard for a 15-yard gain.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn showed fancy footwork in the next play, getting a first down and scrambling for an additional two yards to the 49 on the second down.
Thanks to a successful pass to Jaelon Darden, the Bucs made it into the red zone. On the next play, Gabbert found Hudson–successfully this time–with a close call. With Hudson flipping over the defense, he dropped the ball but quickly recovered it, bringing the Bucs to the 2-yard line.
After a missed pass to Tanner Hudson, Gabbert handed off to Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who ran it in for the touchdown, getting the Bucs on the board first 6-0. The extra point try from the two-yard line that followed was ruled no good.
On the second down of the Bengals’ next drive, the Bucs defense forced quarterback Brandon Allen out of the pocket to scramble for nine yards by the end of the first quarter.
On the Bengals’ third down, Bucs defense forced a fumble, with Bucs linebacker KJ Britt recovering. Ryan Griffin came in as Bucs quarterback for the next possession.
At 6:12, Griffin gambled on a fourth down pass attempt, but attempted to scramble for yardage. Not only was he sacked, but Bengals linebacker Darius Hodge knocked the ball out of his hands and the Bengals recovered it.
On the Bengals’ next first down, Bucs cornerback Ross Cockrell and safety Javon Hagan intercepted the ball, but couldn’t grip it. Mike Thomas recovered the fumble for Cincinnati.
Bucs outside linebacker Joe Tryon got his first sack with less than three minutes left in the first half, but the play was flagged as a personal foul for unnecessary roughness.
The Bengals made sure to answer before halftime, though. After a ten-play, 69-yard scoring drive lasting just over five minutes, Chris Evans ran the ball in one yard for the touchdown to close out the half with a 7-6 score.
Gabbert was pleased with his team’s scoring drive despite the mixed performance. “It was a good drive. We started off hot, ” he said at halftime. “It was an up and down drive. We had a few misses of those, but all and all it was great to put a drive together and put some points on the board. The guys played great and it was a good way to start off the preseason.”
The Bengals widened their lead early in the third quarter with Evan McPherson’s 40-yard field goal for a score of 10-6.
During the Bucs’ possession, Bengals safety Kavon Frazier intercepted Griffin’s pass intended for Jaydon Mickens. On the Bengals’ fourth down, kicker Austin Seibert further widened the lead with a successful 24-yard field goal for a13-6 score.
On the Bucs’ next possession, rookie quarterback Kyle Trask took the helm to get some reps. Bengals defense pressed in quickly, seeming to fluster him. His long pass intended for wide receiver Travis Jonsen was incomplete. That possession was ultimately scoreless for the Bucs.
While the Bucs defense prevented another Bengals touchdown, Evan McPherson put the Bengals on the board again with a 31-yard field goal, closing out the third quarter with a 16-6 score.
The Super Bowl Champions were looking bleak with scoreless drives and stacking penalties over the second and third quarters, but made a fierce comeback in the fourth.
With just over 11 minutes left in the game, Bucs linebacker Joseph Jones made the stadium explode with a quick interception and 15-yard run to the end zone for the Bucs’ second touchdown on the night. They immediately followed with a successful two-point conversion, shrinking the Bengals’ lead to 16-14 in less than two minutes.
But the Bucs’ chance at glory was short-lived.
Cincinnati’s Seibert scored a 38-yard field goal, making the final score 19-14.
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org