First quarter: Rainey’s day
Capable running backs grow on trees. Example No. 7,322 is Tampa Bay’s Bobby Rainey, who ripped off an 80-yard run for a touchdown on the second play from scrimmage.
Rainey, short and stout at 5-foot-8 and 212 pounds, was undrafted out of Western Kentucky last year. He rushed for 4,523 yards and 39 touchdowns for the Hilltoppers. He was just the eighth bowl-subdivision back to have back-to-back 1,500-yard seasons.
Rainey was cut by the Ravens last year and the Browns this year. Tampa Bay signed him on Oct. 21, and he rushed for 163 yards against Atlanta on Nov. 17.
Key plays: Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon got hot early. He hit Vincent Jackson for 22 yards on a sharp sideline throw. He eluded the blitz and passed on the run 38 yards to Jackson for a touchdown. Nickell Robey was beaten on the play. It put the Bucs up, 14-3. Buffalo got a 40-yard field goal by Dan Carpenter. … Stevie Johnson had a drop on a pass over the middle. It was a tad behind, but he got both hands on it.
Second guess: The opening offensive script didn’t work too well. The Bills managed just 30 yards on 15 offensive plays in the first quarter. That included three sacks by the Bucs.
Second quarter: Giving it away
The second quarter was even uglier than the first for the Bills.
Buffalo made three turnovers – two intercepted passes and a fumbled punt return by Leodis McKelvin.
Tampa held a 24-3 lead at halftime, and the advantage would have been even larger if the Buccaneers hadn’t made two turnovers of their own, both on interceptions thrown by Mike Glennon.
Stevie Johnson was the culprit on the first Bills interception, as the ball bounced straight off his hands and into the arms of Lavonte David. Buffalo’s Jairus Byrd got the ball right back by reading an in-route by Vincent Jackson and picking off a throw from Glennon. Then EJ Manuel gave the ball right back to Tampa by throwing a terrible pass for T.J. Graham. It was underthrown and Johnthan Banks picked it off. McKelvin’s fumble, at the Bills’ 21, didn’t result in points, because Stephon Gilmore intercepted a Glennon sideline pass at the Buffalo 3.
Key plays: Tampa got a 53-yard field goal by ex-Bill Rian Lindell to go ahead, 17-3. Glennon threw a 5-yard TD pass to Tim Wright with 15 seconds to go in the half.
Second guess: Byrd was called for a low hit on Glennon. We thought he made contact on the thigh. Bad call.
Third quarter: Quick fade
The Bills actually had a chance to get back in the game in the third quarter.
That, of course, presumes the Bills could have played some quality football. They could not.
The Bills managed a field goal on the opening series of the half, then the defense forced a quick punt.
Buffalo could not capitalize. EJ Manuel threw an off-target pass for Stevie Johnson that was picked off by linebacker Mason Foster. It was a bad decision by the QB. The Bills still weren’t out of it. But another interception came later in the quarter, when Manuel was flushed out of the pocket and threw for Robert Woods, who took a big hit that popped the ball into the arms of Lavonte David.
Key plays: The Bills drove 53 yards in nine plays to open the half and got a 46-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter. … David’s 32-yard interception return to the Buffalo 12 set up a field goal by Rian Lindell. It came from 32 yards to give Tampa Bay a 27-6 lead with 7 seconds left in the quarter.
Second guess: There was no substantive contact by Leodis McKelvin on a 29-yard pass interference call on an incomplete deep pass for Vincent Jackson.
Fourth quarter: Held back
One team bounced back from a tough loss, the other didn’t.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers suffered a miserable, 27-6 defeat at Carolina last week. But they rebounded in a big way, unlike the Bills, who fell to their second straight defeat.
The Bucs started the season 0-8 but now have won four of their last five to improve to 4-9. That may be enough for second-year head coach Greg Schiano to save his job for next season.
“I was really proud of our team, after coming off what was a really tough loss for us at Carolina,” Schiano said. “It was a hard one to get out of your craw. … This week in practice, we challenged each other in practice, coaches and players alike, to make sure we had the details.”
Sitting on a lead: Tampa got 80 yards on its first rushing attempt of the game. The rest of the day, the Bucs rushed 35 times for 85 yards, a 2.4-yard average. It didn’t matter because the Bills were so impotent.
Key plays: The best play of the quarter for the Bills went for naught. C.J. Spiller took a swing pass and ran 83 yards for an apparent touchdown, but receiver Robert Woods was called for holding downfield. It was a good call.