The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were rolling early, and they were looking like they would take a commanding lead in the NFC South — but someone flipped a switch.
The Cincinnati Bengals answered 34 unanswered points after trailing by three possessions to take a 34-23 win on the road.
The Bucs had a 17-0 lead with less than two minutes to go in the first half. Although the Bengals knocked in a field goal before the half ended, it was all Tampa Bay.
But in practically the snap of a finger, it all changed.
In their first drive of the second half, the Bucs went for it on 4th-and-1 on their own 26, but in the wildcat, Gio Bernard fumbled the snap and lost two yards. The Bucs again held Cincy to a field goal, but it got worse for Tampa Bay.
Tom Brady threw an interception in his own territory, and the Bengals turned it into a seven-play drive that ended with a 5-yard score by Tee Higgins — they failed to convert the ensuing two-point conversion, but it was now a 17-12 game.
On 3rd-and-10 from their own 21 on their very next drive, Brady was sacked and lost a fumble. The Bengals turned that into a touchdown as well, this time by Tyler Boyd, and led 20-17 after a successful two-point conversion. Brady then lost another fumble on his own side of the field, and again the Bengals took advantage. Joe Burrow found Ja’Marr Chase for an 8-yard score, and suddenly it was a 27-17 Bengals lead with 12:45 to go in the fourth.
For good measure, Burrow found Mitchell Wilcox with 2:21 to go to make it a 34-17 lead.
Burrow completed 27 of his 39 passes for 200 yards and four touchdowns — each one to a different player. Four Bengals (Chase, Boyd, Higgins, Joe Mixon) each had five catches.
As for Brady, he finished with 313 yards on 30 of 44 passing. He threw three touchdowns but also turned the ball over four times.
Cincinnati will take on the 7-7 New England Patriots in Foxboro on Saturday, and the Bucs (6-9) will travel to Arizona to face the 4-10 Cardinals on Christmas night.
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