The Bucs clawed their way back into the contest with a blistering 17-play, 92-yard touchdown drive — aided by two Bills penalties on fourth down — that took 7:21 off the clock. Given that they were down by two goals, taking half the quarter wasn’t ideal, but the TD gave the Bucs a shot.
Mayfield hit a gorgeous Hail Mary to end the game, but Chris Godwin turned his head late and watched the ball hit the turf for another loss.
The Bucs’ three wins have come against the 3-4 Vikings, 2-5 Bears and 3-4 Saints. The losses came to the 6-1 Eagles, 5-2 Lions, 4-3 Falcons and 5-3 Bills. With the schedule, in theory, relaxing a bit over the next five weeks (Houston, Tennessee, San Francisco, Indianapolis, Carolina), the Bucs could turn the ship around.
“It’s not going to snow,” coach Todd Bowles said of the losing streak. “We have a lot of leaders in this locker room, a lot of leaders on our coaching staff. We have faith. We understand how hard we play. We just have to play smarter.”
Penalties on Thursday (11) and a lack of third-down efficiency (4-of-15 on offense, 7-of-13 allowed on defense) were issues that have persisted in the losing streak.
“My faith in these guys has never wavered,” Bowles said. “I’ll take them anywhere. I’ll take them down the alley. I’ll fight them any way I can. I believe in them with all my heart. We believe in ourselves as a team. And we know we’re going to forward and get better.”