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3 things we learned about the Buccaneers

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HOUSTON — Tampa Bay’s rookie kicker had a forgettable day in the Buccaneers’ 19-9 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday.

Kyle Brindza missed three field goal attempts in the second half after nailing a 58-yarder in the first half.

In two of those instances, the misses could have given Tampa Bay the lead. Brindza also missed an extra-point attempt in the second quarter.

“Just didn’t finish my kick,” Brindza said. “Didn’t do my job.”

The missed field goals were only part of the problem for the Buccaneers, who failed to establish a running game, were unable to convert on third downs and had little impact defensively.

“All the things that losing teams do, we did today,” Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith said. “We’ve got to clean this up.”

Tampa Bay rookie quarterback Jameis Winston threw for a career-high 261 yards, going 17 of 36 with a touchdown and an interception. Wide receiver Mike Evans caught seven passes for 101 yards for Tampa Bay (1-2).

With the Buccaneers trailing 10-9 midway through the third quarter, Winston appeared to connect with wide receiver Vincent Jackson for a 23-yard touchdown. But Houston challenged the play and officials reversed the call to bring about fourth-and-6 from the Houston 23, setting the stage for Brindza’s first field goal miss, a 41-yarder that went wide right.

Brindza failed to deliver again with 10:59 to go in the game, sending a 33-yard attempt wide right, much to the frustration of many of his teammates. He missed another try, a 57-yarder, in the final minute of the game.

Smith is sticking with Brindza — for now at least.

Kyle is our kicker,” Smith said. “He like a lot of us had a disappointing day today.

“When a player has an off day, we need to rally around him in other ways, and that’s what we weren’t able to do today.”

The Buccaneers struggled offensively in the first half, with Winston looking frazzled at times.

The rookie even drew a delay of game penalty on the Bucs’ first drive, one of five penalties by Tampa Bay in the first half.

The Buccaneers were 1-for-8 on third downs, something not lost on Winston.

“I have to help them out on third downs,” Winston said. “I have to come through.”

What we learned about the Buccaneers

1. The offensive line held its own against J.J. Watt and company, which is one positive to come out of the loss. “No sacks, man,” Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston said. “The offensive line did a great job against one of the best defensive lines in the league.” Not lost on Winston was the fact he faced the likes of Watt and Jadeveon Clowney and came out unscathed. “It was a promising loss,” Winston said. “I know that is ironic, but it was a very promising loss.”

2. Penalties hurt the Buccaneers badly against the Texans. The team had 10 for 84 yards. They are part of a bigger issue for the Buccaneers, described by coach Lovie Smith as a lack of concentration that extended across the offense, defense and special teams. “I really thought we’d play a lot better today,” Smith said. “Had an excellent week of practice and normally that carries over to the field on game day, but that wasn’t the case. A lot of lost opportunities.”

3. The team has rookie kicker Kyle Brindza’s back. “I know I’m behind him,” Winston said. “I’m going to pull for him; he’s a great kicker.” Brindza had a bad day, missing three field goal attempts and one extra point try in the loss to the Texans. “We’re not going to indict a player based on one bad game. It’s as simple as that,” Winston said. “He’ll come back next week.”

Etc.

–K Kyle Brindza’s 58-yard field goal in the second quarter was the second longest in Buccaneers history. He is the first kicker in team history to connect on two field goals of 55 yards or longer in the same season. The longest field goal in team history belongs to Matt Bryant, a 62-yarder against Philadelphia in 2006.

–WR Vincent Jackson caught his 500th career regular-season pass in the first quarter. He is one of only 14 active players to catch 500 passes. He finished the game with two catches for 40 yards, including a 21-yarder with 1:22 left in the first half.

–LB Lavonte David had 14 tackles, which were the most by the Buccaneers this season. Eleven of the tackles were assists. For a comparison, teammate Bradley McDougald and the Texans’ Kareem Jackson each finished with six tackles, second most in the game.


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