Raymond James Stadium was supposed to be an advantage.
The hot weather would give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers an edge, particularly over teams from up north.
Lovie Smith told us so.
The Bucs' head coach also promised his team would win now, that this would not be a rebuilding season.
We believed Lovie, but now we can't.
RJS has become his personal house of horrors.
After their 19-13 overtime loss to Minnesota on Sunday, the Bucs are now winless in their four games at RJS.
They've lost to two backup quarterbacks and on Sunday to a rookie who came into the game looking shell-shocked.
But the Bucs made Teddy Bridgewater whole again.
Most people will blame the loss on Austin Seferian-Jenkins' fumble on the Bucs' first possession of overtime that was picked up and returned for a game-winning touchdown.
"No excuse. I've got to hold on to the ball better than that. We lost the game, (and) I was the last one to touch the ball," Seferian-Jenkins said.
It would be wrong to make him the scapegoat.
The big answer to the
Bucs' Sunday malady rests with Tampa Bay's defense.
Oh, there are numerous problems. This is a bad football team that finds ways to lose. But the game never should've gone to overtime.
The Bucs were playing against a beleaguered quarterback who had thrown five interceptions and was sacked 13 times in his last two games.
But Bridgewater looked anything like a rookie. He did not throw an interception, was sacked only once and completed 24 of 41 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown.
Somehow he took the Vikings on a nine-play, 61-yard drive that ended in a 38-yard, game-tying field goal with four seconds left in regulation. On the drive, Bridgewater completed five of nine passes, including a 12-yard pass on a third-and-seven play to set up the field goal.
"He made some good throws, taking what we were giving him and did a good with clock management," Bucs linebacker Mason Foster said. "It's the NFL. It's always tough to stop guys like that when you need a field goal. But we've got to stand up. If you want to win, you've got to make plays."
Making plays was tough for the Bucs on both sides of the ball. It's been that way all season, which is why they've lost six of seven.
The offense was successful on only 1 of 12 third-down conversion attempts.
The Bucs had 72 yards total offense at halftime. At the break, Mike Glennon had a quarterback rating of 21.5 after completing 6 of 12 passes for 31 yards with an interception and two sacks.
"When you don't convert on third downs, it's hard -- when you're three-and-out and three-and-out, it's hard to get anything going," Smith said. "Passing-game wise, they were able to lock us down a little bit early on. When we passed the ball there was too much pressure (five sacks)."
The Bucs came into this game thinking it was the start of something new. They were coming off a bye with two weeks to prepare for a 2-5 opponent that had lost three straight.
But these Bucs are not a good team, and its struggling defense cannot get any help from its anemic offense.
Smith said he saw improvement in his team. If he did, good for him because he might be the only one who walked out of RJS feeling that way.
"What I say to the team is that we're disappointed in this game, and you have to look at the big picture," Smith said. "The last time we played, we were blown out. We were competitive this week, but now we have to be able to finish. We need to be able to get over that hump."
Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.