TAMPA, Fla. – The Cincinnati Bengals came into Raymond James Stadium as one of the hottest teams in the NFL, having won 9 of their last 11 while the Bucs were struggling mightily. The Bucs jumped out to a 17-3 halftime lead behind two touchdown passes from Tom Brady.
Cincinnati dominated the second half, scoring 34 unanswered points and beating Tampa Bay 34-23.
“We had a good first half, in a good position,” Brady said. “We just gave them the ball. Obviously, we can’t score. They’ve got a good offense. They scored. They took advantage.”
When Brady was leading by 17 points at home for his entire NFL career, he went 89-0 until this game. Joe Burrow led the Bengals back after being down 17-0 with 200 yards passing and four touchdowns.
The Bucs, according to head coach Todd Bowles, are beating themselves.
“It’s the same old song,,”‘ Bowles said. “We played a good first half. The second half, we come out and shoot ourselves in the foot, either by turnovers or penalties or field position on special teams. The tale of two halves. The half we played in the second half was Bucs vs Bucs.”
The Bengals forced four second-half turnovers in notching their 6th win in a row. Brady says you can’t win when you give the ball back to your opponent as many times as they did.
“We have the ability to play good,” Brady said. “I don’t think we lack confidence; it’s just consistency. Two good quarters don’t win ya football games. five turnovers doesn’t win you football games.”
Tampa Bay committed four turnovers with two fumbles and two interceptions.
“The two fumbles were my fault,” Brady said. It was uncharacteristic. One of the interceptions was just a terrible throw. The other one, I got hit, the guy was laying on the ground, and the ball landed in his arms.”
Bucs linebacker Devin White still thinks the Bucs are a good team.
“You’ve seen what type of performance we can do, ” White said. “If we can put together those four quarters, man, we’re one of the best teams in this thing.. I truly believe that. But at the end of the day, that one is over. We gotta do whatever we gotta do to win on Christmas.”.
The Bucs still sit atop the NFC South at 6-8 and head to Arizona for a Christmas night game against the Cardinals. The AFC Central-leading Bengals are in New England against the Patriots at 1 pm on Christmas Eve.