The Jets were optimistic about coming off a big win and a mini-bye, taking their surprising season on the road to Central Florida, and continuing their climb back to .500. On the surface, Tampa Bay looked like a good opponent, reeling from a five-game losing streak and missing starting quarterback Jameis Winston.
But the Buccaneers' defense came out fired up, erecting roadblocks on almost drive against Josh McCown and the Green & White offense. And with old Jet Ryan Fitzpatrick up to the challenge of moving the Bucs to three field goals and a late touchdown, the Bucs handed the Jets a frustrating 15-10 loss at Raymond James Stadium.
The Tampa Bay defense, last in the NFL in sacks and third-down defense, posted six sacks and held the Jets to 3-of-14 on third down conversions. McCown, who entered as one of the NFL's two 70% passers and a regular 100-rating performer, struggled to complete 19 of 35 for a 59.2 rating. The Jets committed eight penalties for 77 yards. And they lost to the Bucs for only the second time in 12 career meetings.
Here are eight chronological takeaways from the game:
1. Ripping Up the Recent Script
The Jets didn't start offensively as they did the last time they visited Florida three weeks ago. This was more like Cleveland in Week 5 as the O gained 44 yards but only one first down and was set back by three early penalties en route to two opening punts.
And with Fitzpatrick finding DeSean Jackson on the hosts' second drive three times for 46 yards, the Bucs moved into the red zone before settling for Patrick Murray's 29-yard field goal. The 3-0 deficit marked the first time the Jets didn't score first and in fact the first time they trailed in the first half of the last six games.
Top Gameday Photos from the Week 10 Matchup in Tampa
2. Sack No. 1 for Leo
Green & White punt coverage had been good, until Lachlan Edwards' third punt was returned by first-year man Bernard Reedy 44 yards to midfield. Saving a touchdown return was Edwards' diving tackle at the sideline. But the Bucs were set up for a half-field drive to extend their lead. However, the Jets D was up to the task with its second 3-and-out stand, capped by Leonard Williams taking down Fitzpatrick for his first sack of the season on his team-leading 14th QB hit.
3. Turnabout Interceptions
The offensive woes continue when on second-and-long McCown tried to hit Robby Anderson deep down the middle. He overthrew Robby but not CB Brent Grimes, who returned the over-the-shoulder INT to the Jets 32. But the visitors returned the favor when CB Darryl Roberts covering rookie WR Chris Godwin, snatched Fitzpatrick's pass over the middle for his first pro pick, averting disaster. The O still couldn't untrack and went 3-and-out for the second time.
4. Chandler for the Tie
The Jets D held firm the rest of the half and then the offense finally got moving with a 15-play, 51-yard march to the first half's final gun, the Jets' most plays in a drive this year. After first-and-goal at the TB-12, they moved backward on a sack and yet another penalty, their fifth of the half. But Chandler Catanzaro salvaged the drive with his 47-yarder and the Jets went into the Ray Jay locker room with a 3-3 draw.
5. Still No Traction
The defense continued to come up with big plays to keep the hosts out of the end zone. Roberts had a nice tackle on a first-and-20 screen that helped hold the Bucs to Murray's 49-yard FG and a 6-3 lead. Then PDs by DL Kony Ealy — his ninth behind the line this season, tops among all NFL D-linemen — and Demario Davis down the field forced a punt.
6. TD-Less Through Three
Then Davis got another swatdown on the next series. But the offense's dysfunction continued with two 3-and-outs and then Bilal Powell's first lost fumble of the season late in the quarter. That led to Murray's third FG, from 37 yards, and suddenly the Jets' chances were looking bleak. The last time they won a game after not scoring a touchdown through three quarters was 2012 vs. Arizona. The last time on the road was in the 2009 playoffs at San Diego.
7. The Backbreaker
The Bucs took advantage of keeping the Jets defense on the field a lot by keeping them on even longer on a backbreaking 15-play, 81-yard march to the game's first TD, a Fitzpatrick 6-yard flat route past Davis for a 15-3 lead with 6:05 to play. On a third-and-10 stop, Roberts was flagged for pass interference. On third-and-15, RB Charles Sims took a Fitz pitch left 21 yards.
8. Out of Time
Time was running out as the Jets started their next drive from their own 10. It looked grim at fourth-and-16, but he found TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who battled all the way out of bounds for a 28-yard gain and into TB territory for only the second time all game.
McCown threw just a foot too long for Anderson, who couldn't get his second foot down inbounds. After the two-minute warning, the Jets came right back and this time McCown found Anderson inbounds over Grimes for the TD, extending Anderson's streak to four games with a TD catch. But it was too little, too late as Catanzaro's onside kick was covered by the Bucs.