Winston’s fourth interception, a pick-six that put the Buccaneers in a 34-16 hole against the Cincinnati Bengals, got him benched. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started the first four games of this season, three while Winston was suspended, came on.
And the FitzMagic happened.
In the fourth quarter Fitzpatrick erased that 18-point deficit, hitting Mike Evans for a 72-yard touchdown and O.J. Howard for an 18-yard score on fourth-and-3 as part of the comeback. He completed a two-point conversion pass to tie the game with 1:05 left. In the final minute the Buccaneers’ terrible defense gave up a quick drive to Cincinnati, and Randy Bullock hit a game-winning field goal as time expired for the 37-34 win. But Fitzpatrick did all he could. He threw for 194 yards and two touchdowns in a little more than a quarter of work.
It was a horrendous outing for Winston, who is still trying to work his way back into the Buccaneers’ good graces with the end of his rookie contract near. Winston threw an interception into the end zone in the first quarter, threw an interception later in the quarter to the middle of the field that appeared to be intended to nobody on his team, was wildly inaccurate on a third interception in the third quarter and his day finished with the pick-six.
Turnovers have been Winston’s biggest problem. He made some good plays Sunday, throwing for 276 yards in less than three quarters. But throwing four interceptions is inexcusable. Fitzpatrick played very well in the first three games of the season, then the team decided it should go back to Winston, who was the first overall pick of the 2015 draft.
Now the Buccaneers have to decide again who will be their full-time starter. Maybe it won’t be that tough of a decision.
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