Fri Aug 23 11:09pm ET
By FRED GOODALL
AP Sports Writer
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins (81) can't hang onto the ball after getting past Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis (33) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) eludes a tackle by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Carl Nassib (94) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon III Hargreaves III (28) knocks the ball away from Cleveland Browns wide receiver Derrick Willies (84) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback M.J. Stewart Jr., (36) knocks a pass away from Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins (81) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Cleveland Browns defensive end Chris Smith (50) sacks Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward (21) knocks the ball away from Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Breshad Perriman (19) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Jameis Winston (3) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Cleveland Browns Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Matt Gay kicked a 21-yard field goal with 15 seconds remaining, giving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a 13-12 preseason victory over the Cleveland Browns on Friday night.
The rookie's game-winner capped a 16-play drive lasting more than seven minutes. Cairo Santos booted a 23-yard field goal in the third quarter and third-string quarter Ryan Griffin threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Leggett for the Bucs (2-1).
Rookie Austin Seibert kicked four field goals for the Browns (2-1), who led 9-0 when Baker Mayfield and the rest of Cleveland's starters left the game.
Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick from the 2018 draft, started and played the entire first half after getting just one series of work in Cleveland's preseason opener against Washington and sitting out last week's game at Indianapolis.
Playing without starting receivers Odell Beckham Jr. (hip) and Jarvis Landry, the second-year quarterback led three short field-goal drives and was not particularly sharp while completing 10 of 26 passes for 72 yards and one interception.
Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston had an even tougher night, though it wasn't all his doing.
Gay missed a 37-yard field goal and Tampa Bay's leaky offensive line had difficulty protecting Winston, allowing five sacks while the fifth-year pro was in the game.
The No. 1 overall pick from the 2015 draft, who's closing in on becoming the franchise's career passing leader yet still trying to prove he's the club's long-term answer at quarterback, finished 9 of 19 for 88 yards without an interception.
Winston played seven series after seeing limited action the previous two weeks against Pittsburgh and Miami. Backup Blaine Gabbert started the second half and led the Bucs into field goal range before falling awkwardly at the end of an 8-yard scramble and heading to the locker room with a shoulder injury. Griffin's TD pass to Leggett gave Tampa Bay a short-lived 10-9 lead late in the third quarter.
Browns: Starting CB Denzel Ward made his preseason debut after missing two games with a minor leg injury. ... Coach Freddie Kitchens doesn't view the third preseason game as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. He's more concerned with keeping players fresh and healthy for the Sept. 8 opener, so his plan was to determine playing time for regulars on a case-by-case basis.
Buccaneers: WR Mike Evans, ILB Lavonte David, DL Vita Vea, TE Cameron Brate, S Mike Edwards, ILB Devante Bond, OLB Anthony Nelson and OLB Kahzin Daniels did not play. ... Backup TE Antony Auclair (calf) left the game in the first half and did not return. ... ILB Deone Bucannon (knee) and S Kentrell Brice (shoulder) were injured during the second quarter.
With field goals of 54, 36, 30 and 35 yards, Seibert may have made some headway in the competition for Cleveland's kicking job. Incumbent Greg Joseph has struggled and Seibert, a fifth-round draft pick out of Oklahoma, had not been consistent before converting all three of his attempts Friday.
Tampa Bay's kicking situation is unsettled, too, with Gay, a fifth-round draft pick from Utah, competing against incumbent Cairo Santos. Gay kicked a 55-yard field goal against Miami last week, but hasn't been as accurate on shorter kicks. His 37-yard attempt against the Browns hit the right upright and bounced away.
Browns: Preseason finale at home vs. Detroit next Thursday
Buccaneers: Close the preseason next Thursday at Dallas
Five Waiver Wire Adds: Week 3
New York Giants running back Devonta Freeman, who signed a one-year deal worth up to $3 million on Tuesday, will officially sign his contract Wednesday morning and then practice with the team, and he could play as soon as this Sunday against the 49ers. Freeman reportedly turned down more money elsewhere because he like the opportunity with the Giants the most. He'll try to help replace Saquon Barkley (knee), who was lost for the year in Week 2. The 28-year-old should be a high waiver priority this week for those that lost Barkley or another running back last week, but he may be slow to get going as he learns this offense. The matchup against the Niners isn't the greatest, either. Expect to see more of Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman this week.
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller, who had 12 catches on a whopping 16 targets for 103 yards and a touchdown in the Monday night win over the Saints, had at least one reception from all four skill-position alignments. The breakdown was as follows: Fourteen routes at tight end (six catches, 44 yards and a TD), 12 routes from the slot (four catches, 37 yards), two routes as a wideout (one catch, 13 yards) and one route out of the backfield (one catch, nine yards). More than 52 percent of his 1,145 receiving yards in 2019 came after the catch, too. Only George Kittle had more yards after the catch. Waller has 586 receiving yards since Week 13 of last year. He's the real deal and is a must-start, high-end TE1 in fantasy. "It's been a long time since we've seen a guy like this," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "He's definitely more than a receiver playing tight end." The Pats will look to contain Waller in Week 3.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said he's "not really" surprised that tight end Rob Gronkowski has just four targets in the first two games of the season. His lone target in the Week 2 win over the Panthers was intercepted. "We're not throwing the ball 50 times to the tight ends. That's what we have receivers for, that's the way our offense is built. Gronk's playing great run blocking in the fourth quarter, so I'm not concerned with his pass catches or his targets," Arians said. The 31-year-old is competing with a lot of aerial playmakers in Tampa, so he won't see close to the target share he saw in his prime with Tom Brady in New England. And as long as Gronk continues to block well, he may only get a handful of looks per game. He's become a low-end TE2 that's droppable in shallow leagues.
Free-agent DBs Blake Countess (Jets), Mark McLaurin (Giants), Obi Melifonwu (Patriots), Tyvis Powell (Broncos) and Abraham Wallace (Bills) tried out for the Indianapolis Colts Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Updating a previous story, free-agent RB Devonta Freeman (Falcons) officially agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $3 million with the New York Giants Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Fantasy Spin: It may take Freeman a couple weeks to get fully up to speed but he should eventually control the bulk of the touches out of the Giants' backfield. His dual-threat abilities should allow him to be a FLEX option most weeks.
Tennessee Titans LB Daren Bates, WR Cameron Batson, PK Tucker McCann and QB Trevor Siemian were designated as protected practice squad players Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR Deon Cain, LB Jayrone Elliott, DE Henry Mondeaux and RB Wendell Smallwood were named as the team's protected practice squad players for Week 3 Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Kansas City Chiefs DB Chris Lammons and RB DeAndre Washington were named as protected practice squad players Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Cleveland Browns QB Garrett Gilbert, RB Dontrell Hilliard, PK Matthew McCrane and OT Greg Senat were placed on the team's Week 3 protection list Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Dallas Cowboys DB Deante Burton, DE Ron'Dell Carter, DB Rashard Robinson and OT Eric Smith were named to the Week 3 protection list Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Houston Texans C Greg Mancz, DB Jonathan Owens, RB C.J. Prosise and WR Devin Smith were named to the Week 3 protection list Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Atlanta Falcons QB Kurt Benkert, P Cameron Nizialek, LB Edmond Robinson and WR Chris Rowland were named the team's protected practice squad players Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Cincinnati Bengals DE Freedom Akinmoladun, QB Brandon Allen, WR Stanley Morgan and G Keaton Sutherland were named as the team's protected practice squad players Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Pittsburgh Steelers NT Daniel McCullers terminated his practice squad contract Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Free-agent DE Muhammad Wilkerson (Packers) had his suspension lifted by commissioner Roger Goodell Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Free-agent RBs Paul Perkins (Ravens), Karan Higdon (Texans) and Austin Walter (Giants) are among the running backs trying out for the San Francisco 49ers.
Arizona Cardinals DE Jonathan Bullard, DE Michael Dogbe, RB Jonathan Ward and DB Jace Whittaker were protected from selection off the practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 22.
New Orleans Saints WR Bennie Fowler and DT Margus Hunt were bumped from the active list to the inactive list Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Baltimore Ravens TE Xavier Grimble (undisclosed) was added to the practice squad's injured list Tuesday, Sept. 22.