Tampa Bay kicker Chandler Catanzaro’s 59-yard field goal with less than two minutes left in overtime gave the Buccaneers a 26-23 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
Catanzaro earlier missed an extra-point attempt as well as a 40-yard field-goal attempt, which would have given the Buccaneers the lead with 4 seconds left in regulation.
“Absolutely crazy,” said Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter in the aftermath of a game that featured five possessions and two turnovers in overtime. “To have two possessions from your minus-one … having a safety, having a missed extra point, being minus-three in turnovers … a lot of weird stuff.”
Cleveland (2-4-1) has played four overtime games this season. The record for one team is five.
“Our fight kept us in the game, especially special teams, which has been a huge improvement,” Browns coach Hugh Jackson said. “Our defense held in there and made some play and turnovers, but we didn’t capitalize on them; that’s what you have to do.”
The Buccaneers (3-3) won despite committing four turnovers and allowing a safety on their first possession. The Browns committed one turnover, a fumble by punt returner Jabrill Peppers in overtime.
Jameis Winston and Catanzaro made the Browns pay for that error, despite a valiant effort by the Cleveland defense, which sacked Winston on back-to-back plays.
On third-down, Winston completed a 14-yard pass to DeSean Jackson to set up the game-winning field goal.
“The team had been putting me in a great position all day long,” Catanzaro said. “I was so upset, because I just wanted to end it right there. The guys deserved to win it right there. That’s a 40-yarder, I should make that every time. But it’s weird how kicking works sometimes.”
After being stymied in the first half and being totally dominated — the Browns managed three first downs to the Buccaneers’ 17 — Mayfield rallied Cleveland to three second-half touchdowns.
A disconsolate Mayfield didn’t see any moral victory after bringing the Browns back and giving them a chance to win.
“It’s frustrating any time you lose, especially when you could have done things better,” he said. “That seems to be the moral of this season. We gotta crack down and be better.”
Mayfield was much better in the second half.
The first touchdown pass went to David Njoku early in the third quarter from 15 yards out to cut the deficit to 16-9.
Nick Chubb, who took over the starting tailback spot after Carlos Hyde was traded Friday to Jacksonville, scored early in the fourth, answering a Tampa touchdown by fellow rookie Ronald Jones.
Mayfield’s second touchdown pass went to Jarvis Landry. Greg Joseph’s extra point knotted the game at 23 and set the stage for overtime.
Tampa Bay’s defense took a big hit when it lost linebacker Kwon Alexander near the end of the first half with what appears to be a season-ending torn ACL.
“Guys like Kwon mean everything to this team,” Winston told the Tampa Bay Times. “A guy like Kwon, he’s going to be one of the biggest forces in this team. We see the passion that he plays with. We see the heart he puts in that locker room.”
Despite not having Alexander, the Buccaneers’ beleaguered defense, which had been giving up more than 34 points per game, rallied and came up with stops in overtime.
On his first possession in overtime, Winston was picked off by Jamie Collins on the Buccaneers’ 45-yard line. The Browns ran three plays but did not gain any yards.
Tampa Bay took over on their 20-yard line and like the Browns, couldn’t move the ball and were forced to punt. Peppers, who had returned a punt 32 yards earlier to set up the tying score, caught the ball at the Cleveland 38 and ran 14 yards before fumbling and setting up the winning kick.
Winston completed 32 of 52 passes for 365 yards, and two interceptions and one fumble. He did not pass for a touchdown, but scored on a 14-yard dash up the middle to put Tampa Bay up 16-2.
Jackson also rushed 14 yards for the first Tampa Bay touchdown.
Mayfield completed 23 of 34 pass attempts for 215 yards and two touchdowns.