TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said heading into the 2020 season that unlike previous years, the Bucs "welcomed the spotlight" rather than shying away from it. They finally felt ready because they had Tom Brady as their quarterback.
And while Brady led the Bucs back with a game-tying touchdown pass to a wide-open Chris Godwin with 3:59 to go on Monday night, he could not overcome the big plays given up by the defense, the loss of two offensive linemen, the four drops by his running backs or his own deficiencies on the deep ball and his two interceptions.
With 2 minutes to go and center A.Q. Shipley leaving the game, Brady attempted to hit tight end Cam Brate on a deep pass but instead was picked off by the Los Angeles Rams' Jordan Fuller for the second time. The Bucs lost to the Rams 27-24, dropping to 7-4 and the sixth seed in the NFC. The Bucs are now 1-3 in prime-time games this season.
QB breakdown: Brady completed 26 of 48 passes for 216 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
On his first touchdown, Brady connected with Mike Evans on an out route; Evans spun away from Troy Hill and Darious Williams for a 9-yard touchdown. Then, after a pass interference call on Fuller, Brady found Evans on a shake route for an 18-yard completion. The Bucs capped off that drive with a 2-yard touchdown run from Leonard Fournette.
Brady's first interception came in the third quarter on a play-action pass over the middle in which Godwin did not get turned around quickly enough. Brady struggled with the deep ball, an issue as of late. He missed Antonio Brown working one-on-one deep against Williams twice.
Brady had 47 game-winning drives heading into Monday night and was asked how disappointed he was in himself for not making it 48.
"Absolutely. Yeah. I think that's a good word," Brady said. "Disappointed ... and I have to do a better job."
Biggest hole in the game plan: The Bucs shut down the Rams' running game -- especially on the perimeter -- to make them one-dimensional, but even without starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth, quarterback Jared Goff was able to carve up the defense, receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp were able to break tackles and the Rams had a lot of success pushing tempo.
The Rams also exploited a pair of red zone pre-snap penalties on Devin White and Shaq Barrett, both times leading to touchdowns. On third-and-goal, Goff slipped a pass past Lavonte David to Woods for a 4-yard touchdown on the run, before finding Van Jefferson working against Jamel Dean on an angle route for a 7-yard touchdown. Woods also took a short pass 35 yards to set up a 38-yard field goal by former Bucs kicker Matt Gay before the half.
The Bucs came up with big plays, too, but just not enough. On the third play of the second half, outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul intercepted Goff on a screen pass intended for Darrell Henderson, setting up a 38-yard field goal by Ryan Succop to tie it at 17-17. On the next drive, on third-and-1 at the Tampa Bay 25, Ndamukong Suh stuffed Cam Akers up the middle for a loss of one, setting up a failed 44-yard field goal attempt by Gay. Pierre-Paul also had a key pass breakup on third-and-16 in the fourth quarter.
The biggest play might have come with 7:25 to go in the fourth quarter with the Bucs trailing by a touchdown, when safety Jordan Whitehead jumped a route on a pass intended for Woods at the Rams' 44-yard line, setting up Godwin's touchdown. But on the Rams' final scoring drive, the Bucs gave up chunk plays to both Woods and Kupp, setting up Gay's 24-yard winning field goal.