Photo courtesy USA TODAY Sports
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - Turnovers and penalties doomed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the season opener against the New York Jets. Nick Folk hit a 48-yard field goal with 2-seconds to go to down the Bucs, 18-17. It's the sixth time in the past eight seasons that Tampa Bay has lost the first game of the season.
Ryan Lindell gave Tampa Bay a one point lead after he booted a 37-yard field goal with 38-seconds left to take the lead. But, on the game's final drive, Bucs linebacker Levonte David picked up a huge penalty by hitting Jets' quarterback Geno Smith out of bounds. The penalty added 15 yards on to the end of the play and enabled the Jets to kick the winning field goal.
The Bucs' offensive line struggled most of the afternoon. Josh Freeman was sacked five times and Doug Martin rushed for just 65 yards on 24 carries. He did score on a 5-yard run late in the second quarter. Tampa Bay committed 13 penalties, costing themselves 102 yards.
Freeman finished 15-for-31 passing, for 210 yards. He threw a 17-yard first quarter touchdown pass to Mike Williams and an interception as well. Vincent Jackson led the Bucs on offense with seven catches for 154 yards.
Leading 7-5 late in the second quarter, linebacker Mason Foster knocked the ball out of quarterback Geno Smith's hands. Rookie Akeem Spence recovered the fumble on the Jets' 5-yard line. One play later, Martin scored to give the Bucs' a 14-5 lead.
Just before the half, a pair of penalties for violent helmet-to-helmet hits by Dashon Goldson kept the Jets' drives going long enough for Smith to find former Bucs' tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. for a score. It was Smith's first career touchdown pass. Smith, the rookie who started his first game in the NFL, finished with 256 yards passing, one touchdown and one interception.
David got his first interception of the year in the second quarter. Freeman threw his only interception on the Bucs' ensuing possession.
The game started very sloppily for the Bucs, who committed five penalties in the first quarter. On the first possession of the game, Freeman had to switch helmets because he wasn't able to hear the play calls from the sideline through the radio in his helmet.
On the team's second possession, Jeremy Zuttah's snap flew right past Freeman and into the endzone. Freeman kicked the ball out of the endzone to prevent New York from recovering the ball for a touchdown but it cost Tampa Bay two points as a safety.
Darrelle Revis, the former Jets star, made his way onto the field for the Bucs for the first time against his old teammates. He broke up multiple passes and had a potential interception slip off of his fingers in the back of the endzone in the second quarter.
The Bucs will host the New Orleans Saints in Week 2. Drew Brees led the Saints beat the Atlanta Falcons, 23-17.