WHAT HAPPENED IN TAMPA BAY’S 24-21 WIN at DETROITTampa Bay’s defense had a daunting challenge in Detroit on Sunday. Playing without Pro Bowl free safety Dashon Goldson, who was suspended, and playmaking middle linebacker Mason Foster, who had a concussion, the Bucs defense had to face one of the NFL’s most potent passing games led by Pro Bowl receiver Calvin Johnson.
To make matters worse, Tampa Bay’s Pro Bowl cornerback, Darrelle Revis, who held Johnson to four catches for 61 yards in the first half, would miss the second half with a pulled groin. But a host of reserve defenders stepped up when Tampa Bay needed them the most to help upset Detroit, 24-21, and stun the Motown crowd with a thrilling victory – the Bucs’ third in a row after a 0-8 start.
Keith Tandy, who replaced Goldson at free safety, recorded one of four interceptions of Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford by stepping in front of Johnson in the end zone and recorded his second interception of the season. Stafford finished the game completing 26-of-46 passes for 297 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions.
“It was going to take the amount of takeaways we had to win that game today,” said Bucs head coach Greg Schiano. “Right up to that last one. My hat is off to the secondary and how they performed.”
With the Bucs leading 24-21 with less than a minute left, reserve safety Kelcie McCray, who recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter, hit Johnson, who finished the game with seven catches for 115 yards, at the Tampa Bay 5-yard line just as he was catching the ball. The collision sent the ball flying into the arms of cornerback Johnthan Banks, who was charged with the responsibility of replacing Revis. Banks recorded his second interception of the season and sealed the win for the Buccaneers.
“That was probably the most individually game plan that we’ve put together so far with Revis on Johnson,” Schiano said. “It’s hard to go back. We talked a lot about it and we felt that Johnthan Banks was the guy to do it, and we’re proud of it. He stepped up.
“I thought Darrelle played really, really well before he got injured. You could tell all week that he was ready to go. It’s a shame because it was a heck of a matchup, but you see the opportunity it gave some other guys.”
The Bucs also received impact performances from a host of other defenders, in addition to the big plays from Banks, Tandy and McCray. Linebacker Lavonte David started things off for the Bucs with a first quarter interception and forced fumble, in addition to his game-high 12 tackles. Cornerback Danny Gorrer forced a fumble and blocked a punt. Cornerback Leonard Johnson had a 48-yard pick-six to give Tampa Bay a 17-14 lead at halftime.
“One of the more gutsy performances I’ve seen from a team,” Schiano said. “A lot of things were up against them today and they just kept playing their guts out. I’m proud of them. Five takeaways and a blocked punt and we needed every bit of it for the win. My hats off to that group in the secondary with Tandy, Banks, McCray and Gorrer and Leonard Johnson and Mark Barron.”
Although Detroit’s offensive line had only surrendered a dozen sacks in the first 10 weeks of the 2013 season, Tampa Bay’s pass rush pressured him throughout the game and sacked him twice. Defensive end Adrian Clayborn had five tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack, while Dekoda Watson lined up as a defensive end and also notched a sack.
“We sacked him twice and he had only been sacked 12 times the whole year,” Schiano said. “We got him twice, but I thought the pressure that was put on him was huge. When you can alter the throw or get him off the spot and make him move his feet … as we’ve talked about a lot the coverage and the rush work hand in hand.”
When the Bucs fell behind 21-17 in the third quarter, the offense rallied to take the lead with a 95-yard touchdown drive. Tight end Tim Wright and wide receiver Tiquan Underwood were unsung heroes in Detroit for Tampa Bay’s offense.
Wright had a career-high eight catches for 75 yards, while Underwood had a career-high 108 yards and two touchdowns on three receptions, including an 85-yard score, which was the longest catch of his career and the fourth-longest pass in Tampa Bay history.
“We’ve kind of been saving that one and we felt like were going to have it,” said Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon. “They gave us the exact look we were wanting and they did a great job of getting open and I put the ball on him and he made a play.”
Underwood’s touchdown catch would ultimately be the game-winner thanks to a stout effort by the Bucs defense, which held the Lions scoreless in the fourth quarter as the team weathered two missed field goals from Rian Lindell that could have pushed Tampa Bay’s lead to nine points.
Glennon came up huge for Tampa Bay and didn’t play a rookie in completing 14-of-21 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns. Although he was sacked four times, the Bucs didn’t turn the ball over and finished the game with a plus-5 turnover margin as Tampa Bay’s defense took the ball away from Detroit five times.
“I thought Mike Glennon did a very good job of taking care of the football today,” Schiano said. “He needed to. The rush was fierce and he held on to the football and didn’t force it. He took his shots when they were there and hit the deep ball like we needed to do. That was the way we were going to win the game and the guys played their guts out.”
Running back Bobby Rainey, who had 163 yards rushing and three touchdowns last week, was held in check by a stingy Detroit defense, which came into the game ranked second against the run. Rainey had just 35 yards on 18 carries (1.9 avg.) as Tampa Bay rushed for 22 yards on 24 carries (0.9 avg.).
“Detroit did a great job,” Schiano said. “They almost stormed the castle. They were in every gap, but that’s also why some of those throws went over the top. When you do that you put yourself in a compromised position and you have to have a quarterback who can get it there. He was on the money twice. The biggest thing is in the last six games [Glennon] has turned the ball over once. That’s winning football.”
HOW DID THE TEAMS SCORE? – BUCS vs. LIONS SCORING SERIESFirst Quarter – Buccaneers 3, Lions 0Tampa Bay got on the scoreboard first after linebacker Lavonte David picked off Matthew Stafford at the Tampa Bay 25. The Bucs drove 58 yards in 13 plays with Tim Wright catching four passes for 39 yards and picking up three first downs on the series. The drive stalled when the Bucs couldn’t pick up a first down after Ezekiel Ansah sacked Mike Glennon for a 10-yard gain. The Bucs were forced to settle for a 38-yard field goal by Rian Lindell.
Second Quarter – Lions 7, Buccaneers 3Lions QB Matthew Stafford was 6-of-7 for 83 yards on the drive as Detroit took a 7-0 lead. The big play on the drive was a 28-yard catch-and-run on third down into Tampa Bay territory. On first-and-20 after a holding penalty, Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson made his first catch of the game, a 19-yarder, down to the Tampa Bay 9. Two plays later, Burleson, who had four catches for 59 yards on the drive, caught a quick slant pass for an 8-yard touchdown.
Second Quarter – Buccaneers 10, Lions 7Tampa Bay answered Detroit’s touchdown with one of its own. The big play was a 47-yard pass to Vincent Jackson on first down. After Bobby Rainey picked up 10 yards on a run, Tiquan Underwood had a gain of 16 yards down to the Detroit 10. Two plays later, Glennon hit Underwood with a 7-yard touchdown to give the Bucs a 10-7 lead.
Second Quarter – Lions 14, Buccaneers 10The Lions had their second 80-yard scoring drive against the Bucs. Reggie Bush started the drive off with a 15-yard run, followed by an 18-yard catch by Kevin Durham. A 15-yard personal foul on Mark Barron tacked on more yardage. Johnson caught an 18-yard pass down to the Tampa Bay 14. Two plays later, a 10-yard touchdown catch by rookie tight end Joseph Fauria on third down was initially ruled a score, but was reviewed. Instant replay upheld the call and the Lions took a 14-10 lead.
Second Quarter – Buccaneers 17, Lions 14Bucs cornerback Leonard Johnson stepped in front of Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew and intercepted Stafford, returning the pick 48 yards for a touchdown to give Tampa Bay a 17-14 lead before halftime.
Third Quarter – Lions 21, Buccaneers 17Detroit drove 69 yards on eight plays. Stafford hit Johnson for two big plays on slant passes to pick up first downs and 33 yards on third down on rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks with cornerback Darrelle Revis out of the game. On first down, Stafford hit Pettigrew with an 18-yard touchdown catch over middle linebacker Adam Hayward to take a 21-17 lead.
Fourth Quarter – Buccaneers 24, Lions 21After Eric Page unwisely fielded a punt at the Tampa Bay 5, the Bucs drove 95 yards in four plays to take a 24-21 lead in the fourth quarter. The big play was an 85-yard touchdown pass to Tiquan Underwood, who beat Chris Houston in coverage.
WHAT WAS NOTABLE ABOUT SUNDAY’S GAME FOR THE BUCS?Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte continued his Pro Bowl push with his second interception of the season and forcing his first career fumble in the NFL. He finished with a game-high 12 tackles. … Bucs cornerback Leonard Johnson had his first interception of the season and the second pick-six of his career when he returned his second-quarter INT 48 yards for a touchdown to give the team a 17-14 lead prior to halftime. He finished with seven tackles. … Bucs linebacker Adam Hayward got his first start of the season in place of the injured Mason Foster. … Tampa Bay safety Keith Tandy started in place of the suspended Dashon Goldson and recorded his second career interception, which came in the end zone in front of Calvin Johnson. … Tampa Bay cornerback Johnthan Banks recorded his second interception of the season, catching a deflected ball by Calvin Johnson in the fourth quarter at the Bucs’ 5-yard line to seal the win. … Bucs wide receiver Tiquan Underwood had a career-high 108 yards receiving and two touchdowns on three catches. It was his first 100-yard game and the first time he has caught two TD passes in the same game. His 85-yard touchdown reception was the longest catch of his career and the longest throw of Mike Glennon’s career, as well as being the fourth-longest reception in Tampa Bay history. … Bucs safety Kelcie McCray deflected a pass that set up the game-sealing interception, and recovered the first fumble of his career, advancing it 17 yards. … Tampa Bay cornerback Danny Gorrer blocked his first punt and it was the second time in as many weeks the Bucs have blocked a punt. … Bucs running back Bobby Rainey was held to 35 yards on 18 carries. … Tampa Bay wide receiver Vincent Jackson had two catches for 61 yards, including a 49-yarder. … Bucs tight end Tim Wright had a career-high eight catches for 75 yards. … Tampa Bay recorded its first road win of the season and has now won three games in a row.
WHICH BUCCANEERS WERE INACTIVE?The following Bucs were inactive against the Lions: RB/FB Lonnie Pryor, G Patrick Omameh, DT Gary Gibson, DE Steven Means G Carl Nicks, MLB Mason Foster, FS Dashon Goldson (suspended).
The following Lions were inactive against the Bucs: WR Micheal Spurlock, QB Kellen Moore, RB Mikel Leshoure, CB Jonte Green, G Leroy Harris, OT Corey Hilliard and DE Austen Lane.
WHICH BUCS GOT HURT?• Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis injured his groin in the second quarter before halftime and didn’t return. Revis was replaced by rookie Johnthan Banks in the lineup.
• Tampa Bay tight end Tom Crabtree hurt his arm in the first half and did not return. The Bucs only have two tight ends on their roster.
• Bucs cornerback Danny Gorrer re-injured his groin in the second half, but gutted it out and did not come out of the game.
WHAT WILL UPSET GREG SCHIANO WHEN HE WATCHES THE FILM?• Bucs strong safety Mark Barron was flagged for a very questionable helmet hit on quarterback Matthew Stafford on a Detroit first-half touchdown drive. The Bucs have an NFL-high 19 personal foul penalties this year.
• Barron’s pass interference penalty on third-and-11 in the third quarter gave Detroit a crucial first down.
• Tampa Bay continues to be one of the most penalized teams in the NFL with nine flags for 67 yards against Detroit on Sunday.
• The Bucs defense allowed the Lions to convert 53 percent (8-of-15) of their third downs on Sunday, in addition to converting 100 percent (1-of-1) of their fourth downs.
• Tampa Bay punt returner Eric Page fielded a punt at his own 3-yard line and only advanced it to the Bucs’ 5-yard line.
• Bucs kicker Rian Lindell missed both of his field goals at Detroit, a 38-yarder and a 50-yarder, in the fourth quarter.
WHAT’S UP NEXT FOR THE BUCS?Tampa Bay (3-8) travels to Carolina to play the Panthers (8-3) on. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. ET and the game will be televised locally.
Scott Reynolds is in his 22nd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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