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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers keep finding themselves on the wrong side of the final play of football games in 2012. On Sunday, Greg Schiano’s team lost 35-28 to the New Orleans Saints after an illegal touching penalty negated what would have been a game-tying touchdown by Mike Williams.

The loss marked the team’s fourth loss this season, all by one score.

At least this time it didn’t involve the do-or-die defense against the victory formation that has become Schiano’s signature play.

Something needs to change for the Bucs and it needs to change soon. After four close losses, there is no more room for moral victories. They are just blown opportunities.

The Bucs had a 21-7 lead over the Saints with just over 13 minutes remaining in the second quarter.

The Bucs defense was completely unable to stop Drew Brees and the Saints offense as they scored 21 unanswered points to close out the half leading 28-21.

New Orleans' shortest second quarter drives were all 72 yards and longer, with no drive needing more than nine plays to score. The Bucs couldn’t get any penetration against Drew Brees, resulting in no sacks or quarterback hits.

Thanks to Josh Freeman’s 420 yards and three touchdowns, the Bucs were in the game until the final moments. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to seal the deal due to the illegal touching penalty that by the letter of the law was correctly called.

The last play is perhaps the one that will most be remembered, but it wasn’t the most devastating play for the team.


Mike Williams' catch on the final play against the New Orleans Saints should have counted.

Unfortunately for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it didn’t because the NFL rule book is flawed. By the rules, the play was illegal touching and properly enforced by the  game officials.

The NFL rule book (Rule 8, Section 1, Article 6) states that when he was pushed out of bounds by Patrick Robinson of the Saints, he was an ineligible receiver until the ball is touched.

"If an eligible receiver is forced out of bounds by a foul by a defender, including illegal contact, defensive holding, or defensive pass interference, he will become eligible to legally touch the pass (without prior touching by another eligible receiver or defender) as soon as he re-establishes himself inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands.”

Sure looks like he was to me. What do you think?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in trouble.

Yes, it is still early in the season and they are currently in second place in the NFC South. However, if the season were to end today they would be cleaning out their lockers and heading home with nobody to blame but themselves.

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