With so much blame to dish out each week this season, there was nothing more that stood out the most from Sunday's loss to the Cleveland Browns than the Buccaneers' special teams. The unit had perhaps it's worse outing this year.
The problems started when Cleveland blocked a Patrick Murray field goal attempt on their opening drive which took points off the board. The Browns then responded with a field goal of the ensuing drive.
"We had a lot of opportunities, especially in the first half, to put more points on the board. All three phases contributed to it, but special teams really hurt us," head coach Lovie Smith said after the game. "We can’t have a field goal blocked and let them continue to drive to score a touchdown. All of those plays really hurt us."
On Cleveland's first drive of the second half, the defense held off the Browns from scoring a touchdown from inside the 10-yard line. But on the field goal attempt, Buccaneers' money man Gerald McCoy jumped into the neutral zone and was called for a penalty. The penalty was marked half the distance to the goal, resulting in the Browns going for it on fourth down. They would convert and two plays later they scored the go-ahead touchdown.
“Lost focus. Just lost focus, you have to keep playing," McCoy said about the penalty. "We got coached on it all week in that situation. Everybody was screaming hard. Just watch the ball.”
Later on in the game, Tampa Bay had a Michael Koenen punt tipped after a man broke free up the middle of the punt formation during the fourth quarter. That led to the Browns scoring what would be the game-winning touchdown.
"The guy (Browns' LB Craig Robrtson) coming up the middle (on the blocked punt), we should have blocked," SMith said. "You also move on the snap of the ball, not jump offside and let the drive keep going. Those are all blunders that really cost us in the end.”
The Buccaneers have struggled often on special teams this season. But as stated earlier, this was the worse performance from them all season. All of it is a part of the reason why they are 1-7 on the season.
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