It was quite a Sunday for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who entered the fourth quarter with a 13 point lead against the New Orleans Saints only to lose.
The loss by the Buccaneers sent them to a 2-14 season but earned them the No. 1 overall seed. While losing was not a surprise the way in which the Buccaneers lost caught the attention of many leading to head coach Lovie Smith to deny tanking.
In the fourth quarter the Buccaneers made a lot of suspicious substitutions including the use of three offensive linemen who were not starters and numerous defensive changes. The Buccaneers played the end of the game without any of their starting wide receivers.
“It had nothing to do with substitutions,” Smith said. “You look at how we played. To me, I’m going to go back, we’re moving the ball fairly well even in the second half. They played a lot better. We played a lot of guys the first half also. Vincent Jackson only played a few reps. That happened in the first half also, and the team we put on the football field had a chance to win right up until (the end).
“Yeah, we didn’t have some of our best players there right in the end. But the guys we had in there we felt like we could move the ball and be able to win.”
Quarterback Josh McCown had Smith’s back further denying the allegations.
“It’s unfortunate, I don’t think anybody tanked it,” McCown said. “We played the guys we played to rotate guys in to give them a look. As far as players are concerned, the draft and that stuff isn’t relevant to us as far as how we’re playing. We play and execute the plays that are called. That’s our job. All that other stuff is for people to try to speculate about all those things. We competed hard and that’s the main thing.”
Losing by the Buccaneers could push McCown out of town. He has no guaranteed money left on the two-year $10 million deal he signed in the offseason to reunite with his former Bears coach. The Buccaneers can save $5.25 million against the cap by cutting him. They could also choose to keep him around as an expensive veteran should they draft Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston wit the No. 1 overall pick.
The Titans also finished the season with a 2-14 record to earn the No. 2 overall pick. The Jaguards, Raiders, Redskins, Jets, Bears, Falcons, Giants and Rams round out the top 10 on the draft board.