Despite having a +10 turnover margin (tied for 3rd best in the NFL), and franchise rookie quarterback records from third round draft pick Mike Glennon, the overall offensive production ranked near the bottom of the league in most categories. The team ranked 32nd (last) in total yards, 32nd (last) in passing yards, 30th in total points scored. The team also had the third-most penalties in the league (121 for 1,136 yards), and ranked 31st in third down conversions. Running back Doug Martin went on injured reserve halfway through the season with a shoulder injury. His replacement, Bobby Rainey had a solid performance, scoring his first career touchdown, and setting a franchise record for longest touchdown run (80 yards). On the defensive side, the offseason news was highlighted by the free agent acquisition of Darrelle Revis, and Lavonte David's stellar numbers.
The team got off to a dismal start, which created considerable tension inside and outside the locker room, as well as among fans. The fan support of head coach Greg Schiano began to decay, as illustrated by a local radio station erecting a billboard carrying the message "Fire Schiano." The trouble started on opening day, as Tampa Bay had a last-second loss to the Jets, owing primarily to a personal foul late hit penalty, which advanced the Jets into field goal range, and an improbable comeback victory. Late-game losses to New Orleans, Arizona, and Seattle brought the Buccaneers to an 0–8 start. The Buccaneers won four of their next five games, but were ultimately eliminated from playoff contention by December, and they dropped the last three games.
One day after the conclusion of the regular season, head coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik were fired.
For the first time since 2009, all eight regular season home games were announced as a "sellout," and no regular season games were blacked out locally.
The season started out on a rocky note, as reports of a rift between head coach Greg Schiano and starting quarterback Josh Freeman were coming from the locker room. Freeman was entering the final season of his contract, and trade rumors were already being tossed around by media and fans. An allegation surfaced that Schiano rigged the voting for team captains, which prevented Freeman from being selected by his teammates. The next day, Freeman missed the annual team photo session, an absence he blamed on "oversleeping." After starting the season 0–3, Freeman was quickly criticized for his poor offensive output, throwing a league-worst 45.3% completion percentage, two interceptions, and only two touchdown passes. It was also leaked that Freeman was a stage one participant in the NFL drug program, a situation related to his treatment of ADHD. On week four, Freeman was benched in favor of rookie Mike Glennon, and on October 3, 2013, Freeman was released from the team as he granted.
During training camp, an outbreak of MRSA was reported in the Tampa Bay locker room. Carl Nicks and Lawrence Tynes contracted the infection over the summer. Nicks missed several games, while Tynes was placed on the non-football injured reserve list. After a third player, Johnthan Banks, was diagnosed in early October, the week 6 games against the Eagles was in jeopardy of postponement, due to concerns over transmission. However, it was held as scheduled after medical specialists and NFLPA representatives inspected the facility.
The Buccaneers acquired an additional 2013 seventh-round pick (226th overall) that sent defensive tackle Brian Price to the Chicago Bears on July 26, 2012.
The Buccaneers later traded that same additional 2013 seventh-round pick (226th overall) that was acquired by the Bears, along with cornerback Aqib Talib, to the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2013 fourth-round pick (126th overall) on November 1, 2012.
Tampa Bay traded Arrelious Benn and a seventh-round pick to Philadelphia in exchange for the Eagles' 2013 sixth-round pick (196th overall) and a conditional draft pick in 2014.
Tampa Bay traded their first-round pick (13th overall) and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2014, to the Jets in exchange for Darrelle Revis.
Tampa Bay traded their fourth-round selection (112th overall) and their sixth-round selection (181st overall) to Oakland in exchange for the Raiders' fourth-round selection (100th overall) in order to draft Akeem Spence on the third day of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Tampa Bay traded their sixth-round selection (196th overall) and their seven-round selection (229th overall) to Minnesota for a sixth-round selection (189th overall) in order to draft Mike James on the third day of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Tampa Bay took the lead 17–15 with a Rian Lindell field goal with 34 seconds remaining. However, on the ensuing Jets drive, rookie quarterback Geno Smith scrambled for a 10-yard run to the right sideline. A personal foul penalty was called on Lavonte David of the Buccaneers for a late hit out-of-bounds, which advanced the Jets to the Buccaneers 30 yard line. With 2 seconds left in regulation, Nick Folk kicked a 48-yard field goal, and the Jets won the game 18–17.
Tampa Bay took the lead 14–13 after an 85-yard interception return by Mason Foster with just under 13 minutes remaining. In the closing minutes the Buccaneers drove to the New Orleans 29 yard line, and attempted a field goal with 1:10 left. The kick missed, and the Saints took over with just over one minute left. Drew Brees drove the Saints to the Tampa Bay 9 yard line in three plays, and Garrett Hartley kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired.
Tom Brady threw for 225 yards and two touchdown passes, as New England soundly defeated Tampa Bay 23–3. Josh Freeman was sacked three times, and threw one interception, while Doug Martin was held to only 88 yards rushing.
Quarterback Josh Freeman was benched during the week, and Mike Glennon was elevated to the starting role. Glennon led the team to a 10–0 lead after three quarters, but miscues saw Tampa Bay fall late. Early in the 4th quarter, a fumble of the hand-off from Glennon to Doug Martin set up an Arizona field goal. With 3:23 left in the game, Glennon, deep in his own territory, threw a costly interception, which set up an Arizona touchdown, and a brief 10–10 tie. With 1:33 left in regulation, Arizona kicked the game-winning field goal to win 13–10.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns, as Atlanta defeated Tampa Bay 31–23. The Buccaneers attempted to rally in the fourth quarter, but managed only two field goals. A failed onside kick by Tampa Bay with 1:55 left sealed the win for Atlanta.
Cam Newton threw for 221 yards and two touchdown passes, and rushed for another touchdown, as Carolina defeated Tampa Bay 31–13. The Buccaneers failed to enter the red zone until the final three minutes of the game. Doug Martin sat out with an injured shoulder, and with the loss, Tampa Bay fell to 0–7.
Winless Tampa Bay shocked first place Seattle by jumping out to a 21–0 lead just before halftime. However, the Seahawks came back in the second half to tie the game and force overtime. Tampa Bay won the coin toss in overtime, but went 3-and-out on their first possession. Seattle kicked a field goal on the next possession, and completed their greatest comeback (21 points) in franchise history.
The Buccaneers rushing defense held Miami to a franchise low 2 rushing yards allowed. The previous record was last season during the home opener, the Buccaneers rushing defense held Carolina to 10 rushing yards. The Buccaneers won their first game of the season against the Miami Dolphins. Darrelle Revis caught the game winning interception off a desperation pass from Ryan Tannehill.
Bobby Rainey rushed for 163 yards and 2 touchdowns. Vincent Jackson caught 10 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown. Gerald McCoy had 3 sacks in the game. Mike Glennon threw for 2 touchdowns. Mason Foster and Dashon Goldson both had an interception. Dekoda Watson blocked a punt.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford threw four interceptions, as Tampa Bay upset Detroit 24–21. The Buccaneers became the first team since 1978 to start the season 0–8 and win their next three games. Stafford was leading the Lions on a potential game-winning or game-tying drive in the final minute. At the Tampa Bay 28 yard line with 1:00 left, Stafford threw to Calvin Johnson at the 3 yard line. Johnson appeared to catch the ball, but it was stripped out and fell into the hands of Johnthan Banks for an interception, and sealed the win for Tampa Bay.
Cam Newton threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for another touchdown, as Carolina soundly defeated Tampa Bay 27–6, sweeping the season series. With the loss, the Buccaneers were officially eliminated from playoff contention.
SF – TD (7:05) Michael Crabtree 4 yard pass from Colin Kaepernick (Phil Dawson XP)
SF – FG (6:12) Phil Dawson 47 yard field goal
SF – TD (1:47) Vernon Davis 52 yard pass from Colin Kaepernick (Phil Dawson XP)
TB – TD (0:29) Vincent Jackson 11 yard pass from Mike Glennon (Rian Lindell XP)
SF – FG (7:51) Phil Dawson 43 yard field goal
TB – TD (14:54) Tim Wright 24 yard pass from Mike Glennon (Rian Lindell XP)
SF – FG (4:27) Phil Dawson 21 yard field goal
SF – TD (4:21) Kendall Hunter 2 yard return of fumbled kickoff return (Phil Dawson XP)
SF – FG (2:49) Phil Dawson 35 yard field goal
SF – Colin Kaepernick – 19/29, 203 yards, 2 TDs
TB – Mike Glennon – 18/34, 179 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
SF – Frank Gore – 22 rushes, 86 yards
TB – Bobby Rainey – 11 rushes, 27 yards
SF – Vernon Davis – 5 catches, 79 yards, 1 TD
TB – Tim Wright – 7 catches, 82 yards, 1 TD
SF – Patrick Willis – 5 tackles, 1 sack
TB – Dekoda Watson – 10 tackles, 2 assists
Vincent Jackson and Tim Wright caught the only two offensive touchdowns for the game. On defense, Gerald McCoy and Adrian Clayborn had the only sacks for the bucs defense. On special teams, Eric Page handed a ball to Russell Sheppard on a tricky play during the kick return and Sheppard fumbled which caused the 49ers to recover and score a touchdown.
On offense, Bobby Rainey scored the only touchdown of the game. On defense, Gerald McCoy had a sack. Also Adrian Clayborn and Dekoda Watson both forced fumbles which Lavonte David and Keith Tandy both successfully recovered for the Buccaneers defense. On special teams, Ryan Lindell scored 2 field goals.