Just when you thought you had seen every way possible for the Bucs to lose a game, Sunday's loss to the Bengals happens. We've seen inept offense, turnovers, last second drives, complete implosions, and horrible defense all lead to Bucs losses this season, but nothing quite like what we saw when the Bucs had a chance to beat a division leader for their first home win of 2014.
After another pathetic display of blocking by Garrett Gilkey and a holding call knocking the Bucs out of field goal range on the final drive of the game, it appeared as if the game would swing right back the Bucs way two plays later. On a 2nd and 15 from the Bengals 41 yard line, McCown would throw short over the middle to Louis Murphy who would turn that short pass into a 21 yard gain and put the Bucs at the Bengals 20 yard line with just 26 seconds left on the clock. Most Bucs fans thought this was a sure victory for their team, but the Bucs would find a way to lose this one.
Despite not being able to challenge a play within two minutes to play in the game, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis would throw his challenge flag, resulting in an immediate timeout. During the delay, the replay official would buzz down to the head referee to check and see if the Bucs were actually playing with 12 men on offense. Some might feel Marvin Lewis got away with something here, but weren't the Bucs getting away with something if they were trying to play with 12 men on offense?
"I couldn’t challenge it," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said after the game. "I should have just called timeout and made them look at it. That’s a big, big miss. We were trying to match up the personnel and there was one too many.”
They looked at the play.
The Bucs clearly had 12 men in a formation on offense.
The play was immediately reversed and the Bucs were penalized 5 yards.
“Coaching error on our part," Lovie Smith said after the loss. "We didn’t catch it. Simple as that. It shouldn’t happen. Blame head coach; bad move on my part of not seeing that.”
While allowing 12 men to be lined up in a formation during a crucial point in a game is bad enough for any coaching staff, the plays that ensued put an exclamation point on some horrendous coaching by the Bucs in the final seconds of Sunday's 14-13 loss to the Bengals.
Now 2nd down and 20 from the Bengals 46 yard line, the Bucs still need just around 10 yards to attempt a game-winning field goal. 2nd down was a crucial down because it allowed you to rush to the line and spike the ball to stop the clock on the next play if a completion was made. The Bucs elected to finally take one of their few shots down the field on this play, which resulted in Josh McCown's pass fluttering seamlessly out of bounds. Another bad coaching decision in a clutch situation.
After another McCown incompletion on 3rd down, the Bucs faced a 4th and 20 on the Bengals 46 yard line with 12 seconds on the clock. I, along with thousands of other Bucs fans, thought the obvious choice was to put your "Dunkaneers" on display and throw one Hail Mary to steal a victory from the Bengals. Much to my surprise and dismay, the Josh McCown would complete a 10 yard pass to Mike Evans, who would fight to make it a 13 yard gain, and ultimately end the game on a turnover on downs.
Why was your best asset and weapon on offense running a 10-yard route on a 4th and 20 with 12 seconds remaining?
Why did it seem as if after Mike Evans was down, Bucs players were hurrying back to the line as if they had no idea what the down and distance was?
We're 12 games into this season. How do these type of mental mistakes happen? There is zero excuse. The fans not showing up isn't based solely on losing, although that is a large part of it. The fans aren't showing up because they know that no matter what happens during the course of a game, their favorite team will find a way to screw it up and lose.
We thought we had seen it all with this team this year. Unfortunately, they continue to amaze us with the most asinine ways to lose.
Here's hoping they get it all out of their system this year...and that includes their coach!
Listen to Justin Pawlowski daily from 9a-12p as the host of "Fan Interference" on 98.7 The Fan.
Follow Bucs Blitz on twitter: @TBBucsOnScout