Bucs’ Bruce Arians took intentional delay of game and it did not work out

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians took the delay of game penalty intentionally to help out his kicker Matt Gay. No, it didn’t work.

In what was one of the more exciting games of the Week 3 slate in the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were battling down to the wire with the New York Giants. Tampa Bay was fresh off a road victory over the division rival Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football last week.

So the Buccaneers had to feel good about being at 1-1, as they were hosting a winless New York Giants team that was starting rookie Daniel Jones out of Duke after benching Eli Manning earlier in the week. Tampa Bay was a sizable favorite in this. What could go wrong?

The answer is pretty simple and one all too familiar for the Pewter Faithful: Buccaneers kickers. Say it ain’t so? Unfortunately, bad decisions on special teams in the kicking game reared their ugly head in the Buccaneers’ heartbreaking 32-31 loss to the Giants.

New Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians took a controversial delay of game penalty to set up a 34-yard field goal attempt for rookie Matt Gay. Gay was an All-American at Utah and won the Lou Groza Award, given to the best kicker in college football, in 2017 for the Utes. Tampa Bay used a fifth-round pick on him. How was this not going to end poorly?

According to Greg Auman of The Athletic, “Bruce Arians says he took the delay penalty on purpose in the final minute, thinking Matt Gay was better from a longer distance.”

Instead of attempting a chip shot inside of 30 yards, Arians, in essence, iced his kicker with the delay of game. Sure, quarterback Jameis Winston lost an additional two yards on the play in between the delay of game and the kick itself, but that was done to get Gay in the perfect position to attempt the try: from the middle of the field!

Gay missed the kick and the Buccaneers fell to 1-2 on the season. Losing on a missed field goal is a narrative far too familiar for tortured Tampa Bay fans over the last 10 years. The Buccaneers have not appropriately replaced Matt Bryant since cutting him as their placekicker nearly a decade ago.

This was a game that the Buccaneers had to have. The Carolina Panthers were winless and not starting Cam Newton at quarterback due to injury. The New Orleans Saints were 1-1 and will be without Drew Brees for the next month and a half. Fate would have it that the Panthers and Saints would both win on the road in their West Coast affairs. Tampa Bay missed a golden opportunity.

The sad part in it all is that Tampa Bay had largely outplayed the Giants for much of the game. Wide receiver Mike Evans had a brilliant day and Tampa Bay played well enough to get to 2-1 and be atop the NFC South standings entering Week 4. What was Arians thinking?

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