The Buccaneers and coach Todd Bowles are coming under fire for leaving a time-out uncalled in Sunday's loss to the Lions. Photo Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports Jan 21, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Tampa Bay head coach Todd Bowles looks on against the Detroit Lions during the second half in a 2024 NFC divisional round game at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday’s NFC Divisional Round game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions featured one of the most inexplicable endings to a game in NFL history. The Lions made two crucial errors, which were somehow trumped by the Buccaneers.

Leading by eight, Detroit linebacker Derrick Barnes intercepted a Baker Mayfield pass to effectively put the game on ice. Only, there was still some work to be done. The Lions’ possession started with 1:33 and the Buccaneers had a time-out. So, Tampa had the chance to force Detroit into a fourth-down decision with about 10 seconds remaining. Then things got weird — and weirder.

On second down, the Lions snapped the ball with roughly 16 seconds remaining on the play clock. On third down, they snapped it with about 14 seconds. So, 36 seconds remained after Jared Goff took a knee on third down. If the Buccaneers had used their time-out, they would have forced Michael Badgley into a field goal attempt of roughly 50 yards.

Instead, Tampa coach Todd Bowles opted to let the remaining time tick off.

In no way are we suggesting that the Buccaneers had a great chance to win. But even if the Lions didn’t snap it too early, they couldn’t have quite run the clock out. A Badgley field goal could get blocked and returned. With more than 30 seconds left, any Badgley miss would have given the Buccaneers the ball at around the 40 yard-line. Yes, they would have still needed to go roughly 60 yards in 30 seconds without a time-out. But that feels like that’s worth trying — especially in the playoffs.

The football world was highly critical of Bowles for his weird decision.

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