By Lewis Gould
Tom Brady was picked off twice in his first six passes, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were upset 29-19 upset by WFT.
It’s their second consecutive loss on either side of the bye week, a performance coach Bruce Arians called embarrassing.
The quarterback several Washington players referred to as the “G.O.A.T.” was one of the goats in the worst way as the Buccaneers fell to 6-3.
“Not a great day of football for us,” said Brady, who finished 23 of 34 for 220 yards and two touchdown passes but threw two interceptions just like during the loss at New Orleans two weeks ago. “We just never really played on our terms. We played from behind the whole game, and they played a good game.”
Tampa Bay was dealt an extra blow in the last minute when nose tackle Vita Vea was carted off with an injury on the final play of the 80-yard drive over 10:26 that finished things off for Washington (3-6). Arians did not have an update, but said Vea felt something in one of his knees — and the concern was real afterward.
“You just hate to see him keep going down,” linebacker Devin Whitesaid. “If we got him, great. If we don’t, man, I’m gonna miss playing with him for the rest of the season.”
Washington lost reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young to a right knee injury in the first half. Young gave a halftime speech to teammates and was back on the sideline later on crutches.
“There’s some concern,” coach Ron Rivera said. “We’ll have him evaluated tomorrow. Potentially an ACL, but we’re not sure yet.”
The Buccaneers (6-3) couldn’t find much of a rhythm on either side of the ball in a rematch of their wild-card victory at Washington from January.
Brady’s interceptions — one off the hands of rookie Jaelon Darden and another inexplicable toss that was caught by Washington safety Bobby McCain — disjointed the NFL’s best scoring and passing offense, which did not have a first-half touchdown for just the fifth time in the past two seasons.
McCain said Washington took offense to Tampa Bay opting to start with the ball after winning the coin toss and later deciding to go for it on fourth-and-short in its own territory.
Flustered all afternoon by Washington’s defense, Brady bounced back in the second half to throw touchdown passes to Cameron Brate and Mike Evans. But Tampa Bay’s defense could not stop Washington’s offense on the final, clock-draining drive. Rivera lived up to his “Riverboat Ron” nickname by going for it on fourth-and-goal from the Tampa Bay 1-yard line with 31 seconds to go, and Antonio Gibson’s second touchdown run of the day put the game away.
“They beat us,” Bucs linebacker Lavonte David said. “We had an opportunity to get off the field, and we didn’t. We talk a lot of stuff, but we didn’t play like it. That was a moment to put our stamp on the game, and we didn’t.”
Washington QB Taylor Heinicke put his stamp on the improbable result much earlier, hooking up with DeAndre Carter for a 20-yard TD pass and leading a 71-yard drive in the third quarter. A pass interference penalty on the Buccaneers set up Gibson’s first TD run — one of several self-inflicted mistakes made by Tampa Bay, which was flagged six times for 43 yards.
“The stupidity has to go away if we’re going to go anywhere,” Arians said. “We’re a very dumb football team, and that’s a reflection on the coaches.”
Heinicke, who earned his contract by impressing in a surprise start against the Buccaneers in the playoffs, was 26 of 32 for 256 yards and managed the game like a veteran on the final drive.
“That was a grown man drive,” Carter said. “Biggest drive of our season.”