Buccaneers’ Offensive Struggles Significant in Loss to Lions

Ken Cross

October 17, 2023 at 12:38 pm.

It was a tough afternoon on Cream Sickle Sunday in Tampa Bay as the throwback orange uniforms were not the only reminder of tough afternoons as the Detroit Lions dropped a 20-6 win on the Buccaneers on Sunday.

The Lions came in as a tough matchup with what has been an underrated defense this season through its 5-1 start.

Detroit had been strong against the run in allowing only 68.4 yards, third in the NFL, on the ground per game, while giving up just 56.7 in the last three games which has been important for its four-game winning streak.

Tampa Bay has had a tough start out of the backfield as it has averaged only 87 yards per game.

The inability to combine the run and the pass for balance was a big issue for the Bucs, who had only 251 total yards and were never able to set their ground attack going with Rachaad Wright and Keyshaun Vaughn as the ball carriers.

Bucs QB Baker Mayfield explained that there wasn’t only one offensive area that needed attention, but the entire offense had to be better for everyone to make solid plays.

“Just one of those days where we had everything we wanted and we didn’t execute,” explained Mayfield. “There were plays we should have executed that were game-changing plays and we didn’t do it. We left a lot out of it and didn’t take advantage of it.”

Tampa Bay punted six times as it never was able to sustain drives. A pair of field goals by Chase McLaughlin left the Bucs in position even after the team enjoyed another solid defensive unit in limiting scores.

The Bucs had a problem on third down where they were only two for 12 in conversions.

“I think we matched up very well,” said Wright, who pointed at missing a pair of passes as well. “I don’t think they outworked us at all. The ball came my way at certain plays of the game and I need to make those catches because they are makeable.”

Despite the struggles on offense, Bucs coach Todd Bowles liked being as close as they were after Detroit scored on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Jared Goff to Amon-Ra St. Brown which gave the Lions a 10-3 lead midway through the second period.

“It was 10-3 at halftime and we had two busts in the second half,” he explained. “Offensively, we can do a lot better from a scoring standpoint. It was a hard-fought game. The game got to 20-6 and we couldn’t recover.”

Bowles gave the Lions’ defense and Detroit in general lots of credit for its performance.

Wide receiver Mike Evans didn’t have a catch until after halftime as he caught four balls for 49 yards in 10 targets. Chris Godwin finished with 77 receiving yards on six catches as he pulled in three for 28 yards on the Bucs’ last drive.  That came after they took over with 3:45 remaining and were trying to cut the 20-6 lead in half.

“It takes 11 guys to get Chris the ball,” said Bowles. “We don’t have time to protect up front or if they are doubling him, we have to go elsewhere. Credit them for a good game plan and we have to go back and reload.”

Mayfield was disappointed in the offensive output as he talked about how the passing game didn’t have any continuity at any point throughout the game. He also noted the Lions’ defensive abilities and how they were an issue for Tampa Bay.

“Their guys are real aggressive, downhill players, so you saw some of the things that we were able to take advantage of, but at the same time when we hand it off, they would rally and tackle the ball,” said Mayfield.


Defensive Mission: The Buccaneers’ defense stopped the Lions’ rushing attack, but Goff had a successful evening. They held the Lions to 40 yards on 22 carries, but Goff amazed with his passing attack as he connected on 30 of 44 passes for 353 yards and two touchdowns.

Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown was a tough cover with 124 yards and a touchdown on 12 catches.

The biggest indicator for the Bucs could have been playing their first game of the season where they did not come up with a turnover. The Lions also tallied a 9-of-15 mark on third down.

“I don’t think we were sluggish,” said linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka. “We just weren’t executing. A lot of plays that were left out there will hurt, watching them on film.”

Bowles explained how the Lions’ offensive scores were a result of Buccaneers’ issues.

“Two touchdowns, they score on third-and-10 and third-and-14,” he said. “We had two busts and they should have never happened. That’s on us as coaches and on us as players.”

Regardless, Tampa Bay remained on top of the NFC South as the day was a wash with all four divisional teams tasting defeat.

Atlanta visits Tampa Bay next Sunday and a Buccaneers win will give them another advantage inside of the division.

“You just have to be a pro,” said Godwin. “You understand that this is the NFL and there are great teams all across this league.  Sometimes a team matches up with you a little bit better and sometimes you don’t execute as you should and sometimes you do. We have to own what we do and when we make mistakes, we need to keep pushing.”