(USA Today) – It was the third largest margin of defeat in franchise history, but it might as well have been the worst loss ever for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The team’s 56-14 drubbing in Atlanta Thursday night was just three points shy of two team record 45-point losses, but had the Falcons not taken their foot off the gas and put in most of their second string players in the fourth quarter, the 56 point margin that stood with nine minutes remaining in the game might have held until the end.
Here’s how bad it was for new head coach Lovie Smith.
Atlanta scored 35 points before his offense got a first down. His starting running back Bobby Rainey, who’s been filling in for Doug Martin, lost two fumbles. His center, Evan Dietrich-Smith, lost another one after snapping the ball off his own butt and having the Falcons recover it on the Tampa 2-yard-line. The Bucs’ starting quarterback, Josh McCown, left the game with a thumb injury before halftime. The Bucs secondary looked as though they’d never seen wide receivers before.