The Jets squeaked out an 18-17 win at the Meadowlands on Sunday afternoon thanks to a sloppy performance over all 60 minutes by the Buccaneers.
The last Tampa mistake came when linebacker Lavonte David was flagged for hitting Jets quarterback Geno Smith out of bounds at the end of a scramble that would have put the Jets, who had no timeouts, on the Tampa 45-yard line with 15 seconds to play. The play wasn’t malicious as Smith had just stepped out and David explained after the game that he thought Smith was going to stay in bounds before he delivered the blow.
“I wouldn’t have hit him if I thought he wasn’t going to stay in bounds,” David said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “They said he was out of a bounds so the guy called the flag. To me, he was in bounds.”
It was an unfortunate end for David, who played a strong game otherwise, but Smith was out of bounds and that’s a call referees are going to make every time. It’s a difficult calculation to make when faced with an opponent running toward your end zone, but letting Smith stay in bounds would have actually worked to Tampa’s advantage at that moment and players have to know that those hits draw flags.
David’s play didn’t cost the Bucs the game all by itself, either. It was the 13th penalty of the day by Tampa, as undisciplined a performance as you could hope to see, and the offense missed plenty of opportunities to put points on the board over the course of the afternoon.