We're a month into the NFL season, and the storylines remain the same. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost a close game, the Jacksonville Jaguars were blown out and the Miami Dolphins remain the state's bright spot in professional football.
The Bucs continued their roller coaster style of play against the Arizona Cardinals, losing 13-10 at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa held onto a late lead but gave it up in a span of 97 seconds as the fourth quarter came to a close. Larry Fitzgerald caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Carson Palmer to tie the game with 3:06 remaining, and Jay Feely sent in a field goal from 27 yards out to give the Cardinals their first and only lead of the day.
Tampa started rookie quarterback Mike Glennon over Josh Freeman in an attempt to turn the season around. While Glennon was 10% more accurate on Sunday than Freeman had been averaging, Glennon had a fumble and two interceptions in the final quarter of play. The first pick set up Arizona's touchdown that came one play later while the second ended any hope of a Bucs comeback.
“I thought Mike did a good job,” Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano said. “At the end of the day, though, we had two costly turnovers. None of the good is only one guy, and none of the bad is only one guy. It's coaching, it's playing and together we'll get it fixed.”
About 200 miles away, the Jaguars continued to prove that scoring, or lack of it, at an unprecedented rate is not always something to be proud of. The team's 37-3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts pushed their scoring total to 31 points for the season. At this rate, the Jags will score 124 points through 16 games, breaking the Seattle Seahawks' 1992 record low of 140 points with ease.
Jacksonville took an early 3-0 lead on a 54-yard field goal from Josh Scobee about midway through the first quarter. The game was tied after seven seconds passed in the second quarter, and then the Colts piled on the points. Indianapolis would score 17 more points in the second and another set of 17 in the remaining two quarters.
Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert had 175 yards passing, but he threw three interceptions (one was returned for a touchdown) and was sacked four times. Jacksonville's offense crossed the 50-yard line only three times. The first was from a drive that started on Indy's 41 after an intercepted pass, the second went 76 yards before failing to break the Colts' goal line in four tries and the third was the final drive of the game.
“As a quarterback, you've got to take your shots,” Gabbert said. “You've got to take calculated risks. We left too many plays out there. All 11 guys on the football field have got to make those plays.”
On the other side of the win-loss spectrum, the undefeated Miami Dolphins will play the undefeated New Orleans Saints in the Superdome tonight on Monday Night Football.
This will be Dolphin quarterback Ryan Tannehill's first Monday night start. Tannehill has a higher passer rating (94.3) than New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees (91.4) through three weeks. Brees leads in every other notable category, though. He has more completions (81 to 71), yards (1,021 to 827) and touchdowns (6 to 4).
Miami's defense is earning praise around the league, and Brees has taken note in preparing for the game.
“I think they are very opportunistic,” he said, “They've done a great job all year long of getting pressure on the quarterback and taking the ball away.”
That defense is banged up, however. Notably, linebacker Koa Misi, defensive tackle Paul Soliai and defensive end Cameron Wake are all questionable for the game. Misi is reported to be cleared, but the other two will be game-time decisions.