TAMPA, Fla. -- Call it the "Nightmare on Dale Mabry." The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' kicking woes are back, and now they're haunting the Buccaneers on prime-time television. Nick Folk missed three field goals on Thursday night -- kicks that would have been the difference in a 19-14 loss to the New England Patriots.
"Yeah, I left points out there," Folk said. "We should've won that game 20-19. This one's on me."
The veteran missed kicks from 56, 49 and 31 yards, offering no help to an offense that couldn't convert on third down until the third quarter or complete a deep pass until the fourth. The last Bucs kicker to miss three field goals in a game was Kyle Brindza in 2015.
"On the 56 [yard field goal] at the end of the half there, I tried to give it a ride," Folk said. "I didn't hit it great, but I got enough of it. The other two I didn't hit well."
Folk struggled last week too, missing two field goals and an extra point.
When the Bucs cut Roberto Aguayo during the preseason, coach Dirk Koetter said, "We saw what that movie was like last year. We're just not going to go that direction anymore."
But they are, actually.
Folk has gone just 2-of-7 on field goals in the past two games, and 6-of-11 for the season. The Bucs are 12-of-21 (57 percent) on field goals at home since the start of last season.
Maybe kicker Connor Barth was onto something when he mentioned the "Tampa curse" this summer. Only it's not haunting him, but instead his former team.
Quarterback Jameis Winston and the offense struggled all night, despite facing a Patriots defense that had allowed 32 points and 456.8 yards per game heading into this contest -- sixth-worst by a team since the merger.
The Patriots deviated from the man coverage they've leaned on through the first quarter of the season by mixing in zone coverage. They showed more two-deep safety looks, which made it more difficult for Winston to complete deep passes.
"I mean, they mixed their coverages as far as on first downs and second downs -- it was different, "Winston said. "But man, I've just got to execute. I think that's the main thing -- got to execute on third downs. Defense is playing a great game, you can't give them the ball back."
Meanwhile, the Bucs' defense, despite being without three key starters, held the Patriots' top-ranked offense to a season-low 19 points. The Bucs were finally able to get pressure up front after only one sack through the team's first three games.
Defensive tackles Clinton McDonald and Gerald McCoy and linebacker Adarius Glanton each recorded a sack of Pats quarterback Tom Brady, with Glanton forcing a fumble and defensive end Will Clarke recovering it. The Bucs got another turnover when rookie safety Justin Evans intercepted Brady on the opening drive.
It was the first time since 2015 that Brady had multiple turnovers in a game. Those didn't matter, however, with the offense and kicking game struggling so much.
"[We] can't score 14 points and expect to win," said Koetter, whose Bucs are now 2-2. "I thought our defense did a nice job, gave us a chance. But 14 points isn't going to cut it."
"You can't play them over again," Koetter said. "We let this one slip away. It was a good opportunity and we'll put it to bed tomorrow. I'm sure we'll be stewing on it a little bit, but the players will get a couple days off. We've got to come back and get ready for Arizona next week."