CINCINNATI - Josh Freeman had no timeouts to use and a packed stadium screaming for him to make another inexperienced mistake that would decide the game.
Uh-uh, not this time. These baby Bucs are growing up.
Freeman led Tampa Bay to a signature win Sunday, directing two scoring drives in the closing minutes for a 24-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Connor Barth's 31-yard field goal with one second left secured a major breakthrough for the upstart Buccaneers.
At 3-1, they've matched their victory total for all last season, when they dropped their first seven under first-year coach Raheem Morris.
The Bengals (2-3), the defending AFC North champions, are in a lot of trouble.
"We're a 2-3 team, and it's not a good team," safety Chris Crocker said. "We gave it away."
The Bengals were ahead 21-14 and in position to close it out with 2:28 to go. Carson Palmer tried to get the ball to Terrell Owens on a third-and-13 play from midfield, but Aqib Talib wrestled it away.
Then Freeman connected with Mike Williams for the tying touchdown with 1:26 to go.
Palmer drove the Bengals to midfield and tried to connect with Chad Ochocinco. The ball slipped off his fingertips and went directly to Sabby Piscitelli, who returned it to the 34-yard line with 14 seconds to go, setting up the game-winning field goal.