On Sunday, it was as if there was a phantom offense on the field as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got throttled by the New York Jets 26-3 to fall to 1-12 on the season.
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How bad was the Bucs' offense? They couldn't manage a single first down in the first half, and were down 19-0 at halftime. Maybe the marching band could have played better by whacking the Jets' players with their instruments and stealing the ball.
Jets quarterback Kellen Clemens, filling in for the injured Mark Sanchez, delivered a steady performance and shut down the sputtering Bucs.
Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman continued to deal with growing pains. He was intercepted three times and sacked three times, going 14 of 33 for 99 yards. The Bucs had a total of 124 yards. Believe it or not, that isn't a season low. They were held to 86 yards, including 19 in the first half, in their 24-0 loss to the New York Giants in September.
A fourth-quarter pickoff was returned 54 yards to the Bucs 7 yard line, setting up a touchdown.
The Bucs had 15 total yards of offense in the first half, and their first first down in the third quarter came on a penalty.
Jets kicker Jay Feely booted four field goals to give the Jets a 19-0 lead at the half, but it could have been a lot worse because of defensive miscues by the Jets. The knee that Freeman took to end the first half left the Bucs with -1 net yards in the half.
The Bucs' initial first down came after the Jets' Bart Scott was penalized for unnecessary roughness after the Jets sacked Freeman on third down. A two yard run on fourth-and-1 gave Tampa Bay a first down at the Jets' 30, setting up a Connor Barth 43-yard field goal that was the extent of the Bucs scoring.
Before the season comes to a merciful end, the Buccaneers have three contests left: Dec. 20 at the Seattle Seahawks, Dec. 27 at the New Orleans Saints, and Jan. 3 at home against the Atlanta Falcons.
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