Buccaneers sticking with Ryan Fitzpatrick as starting QB

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Despite a 42-28 loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have Ryan Fitzpatrick starting at quarterback for at least another week, against the Washington Redskins, coach Dirk Koetter announced Sunday.

The Buccaneers benched Jameis Winston after a dismal four-interception performance against the Cincinnati Bengals last week, opting to go with Fitzpatrick against the Panthers and then reassess.

"Ryan's our starter next week," said Koetter, who has seen the Bucs become the league's No. 1 offense despite shuffling at the quarterback position. "Ryan had one [bad play] there in the first half -- an overthrow on that one interception that we'd like to have back -- but did a good job of leading us back."

Fitzpatrick rallied the Buccaneers from a 35-7 deficit, completing 24 of 40 passes for 243 yards and four touchdowns to make it 35-28 and a one-score game in the fourth quarter.

But it wasn't enough to overcome a first-quarter pass from the Tampa Bay 22 that sailed over wide receiver Mike Evans' head and into the hands of safety Eric Reid, or when Fitzpatrick tried to hit wide receiver DeSean Jackson on a deep pass with 3 minutes, 45 seconds to go in the fourth quarter that was picked off by cornerback Donte Jackson at the Carolina 20.

"Having the turnover right away didn't help with any sort of momentum, especially on the road," Fitzpatrick said. "I put the team behind with that one, and they [went] on to score. We really didn't get much going."

Koetter added: "That second interception, he was trying to get a big play to DeSean, but Ryan did some good things today. We've gotta play better across the board."

The Bucs surrendered 407 yards of total offense and struggled to run the ball, producing just 82 yards rushing.

"There was a lot of time left in the fourth quarter there, and we brought it within seven," Fitzpatrick said. "I think the thing about our huddle is there is always that optimism and confidence [that] no matter who we are playing, no matter what the score is, winning or losing, we know what we are capable of."

Fitzpatrick connected with tight end O.J. Howard and wide receiver Adam Humphries for two touchdowns each.

Fitzpatrick's first touchdown came with 14:15 to go in the second quarter, on a bootleg rollout, hitting Howard on the right side of the field for a 4-yard score. Just before halftime, on fourth-and-3, Fitzpatrick found Howard again in the same spot to make it 35-14.

In the third quarter, Humphries spun away from a defender to catch a 5-yard touchdown down the middle, before taking a slant 30 yards for a touchdown in the fourth.

"He's a veteran, and he knows how to bounce back and handle adversity," Humphries said of Fitzpatrick. "Even after the first pick, he wasn't shaken up at all. You could just tell he was composed and was able to put a couple good drives together."

Howard added: "With Fitz, he's always going to be a competitor. He's a ball player, a smart guy, he can move the ball with his legs also. He does a lot of things on the field that give us a chance to win the game. We love playing with him."