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October 25, 2012 @ 10:14 pm
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Bucs Stun the Vikings: Most Impressive and Disappointing

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Which Buccaneers players stood out in Thursday's 36-17 win over the Minnesota Vikings? What players need to rebound before Tampa Bay takes on Oakland a week from Sunday? Find out in this weekly post-game feature from PewterReport.com.
After an important 36-17 road win the candidates to be included on the Most Impressive list was long and difficult to choose from. Below are six players who stood out and had a direct hand in the victory.

Most Impressive
RB Doug Martin
Can you say coming out party? Bucs running back Doug Martin looked like a special back for the first time all season. Martin has had his moments at times this season, but on Thursday the Boise State rookie put it all together. Maybe it was the national stage that gave him the inspiration, or maybe the proverbial light bulb went off, whatever it was Martin looked decisive, powerful and showed a burst that some had questioned if he even possessed. With 103 yards rushing in the first half alone, Martin stole the spotlight from the Vikings Adrian Peterson. Martin finished with 135 yards on 29 carries and one touchdown rushing, and also was the Buccaneers leading receiver, tacking on another 79 yards on three receptions and a score. Maybe, just maybe, those Ray Rice comparisons aren’t too far off.

DE Michael Bennett
Bennett, like his fellow defensive linemen, had been quiet the previous two weeks, failing to produce a sack or many splash plays. Maybe it was all the talk of Da’Quan Bowers rejoining the team, or maybe, like Martin, Bennett enjoys the national stage. Whatever the reason, Bennett put on a display of speed, power and attitude on Thursday, harassing Vikings QB Christian Ponder all night. Bennett ended the night with five tackles, one sack and a forced fumble. The fumble play was a display of sheer hustle, as Bennett had to race not only across the field, but also 20 yards down the field to create the Buccaneers first turnover of the night.

FB Erik Lorig
Fullbacks in the NFL have always been under appreciated, and even lately are starting to become more and more extinct. However, when a team rushes for nearly 150 yards in one game, most likely there was someone leading the way, helping to open holes or at the very least, creating seams for the running back to squeeze through. On Thursday that person opening holes, sealing the ends – and scoring a touchdown – was Lorig. The former defensive lineman turned fullback threw several key blocks helping Martin get to the second level where the rookie did his thing.

QB Josh Freeman
Freeman started off rocky, and at times struggled with accuracy, but when the key plays had to be made No. 5 delivered. Freeman became the first Buccaneers QB to throw for three touchdowns in consecutive games in franchise history. The Vikings obviously studied tons of tape on Freeman and the Tampa Bay offense, and were unwilling to give up the deep ball, playing primarily zone defense and keeping two safeties deep. Freeman was patient and instead took what the defense gave, meaning checking down at times and working the soft spots in the middle of the field. The ability to not force the ball down the field into coverage shows Freeman is taking major steps in his development as the Buccaneers franchise quarterback. On the night Freeman finished 19-of-36 for 262 yards and three touchdowns.

P/KOS Michael Koenen
Normally when a kicker ends up on an impressive list or in the running for game MVP it is because he was the only bright spot. On Thursday that couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Koenen was an integral part of the Buccaneers 36-17 win over the Minnesota Vikings booming his kickoffs deep in the end zone, keeping dangerous kick returner Percy Harvin from impacting the game. And the one time Harvin chose to return one, it was Koenen who actually made the tackle. Not only did Koenen put all of his kickoffs in the end zone, he did a terrific job in the punt game, averaging 41.7 yards per punt, while directional punting towards the coverage.

WR Mike Williams
Mike Williams stood in the Buccaneers locker room on two occasions last season declaring his play as “terrible.” While Williams would most likely say there is still room for improvement, nothing about the season Williams is having can be deemed terrible so far in 2012. On Thursday against the Vikings Williams had the opportunity to show the national audience his acrobatic circus-style ability to bring in passes from every angle. Williams touchdown pass in the second quarter was vintage Williams, going up over the defender, snatching the ball out the air, while still managing to tap his toes in the end zone. Williams finished Thursday’s game with a game-high six receptions for 68 yards and the one score.

Honorable Mentions: S Ronde Barber, DE Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, LB Mason Foster

Most Disappointing
When a team wins a game by the score of 36-17 on the road, the roster for the most part all played well. Thursday was no different but we have to select a few players that could have had a better game.

T Donald Penn
Penn had an excellent game for the most part, keeping sack master Jared Allen off of Freeman’s back for most of the evening, only allowing one QB takedown. However Penn’s aggressive play against Allen in the second half created a huge potential momentum shift. The MMA style fight Penn and Allen had after a play in the second half, which resulted in a bloody nose for Allen, seemed to rev up the noise at Mall of America Field. Fortunately for the Buccaneers, the Vikings offense sputtered and they never were able to build off of the emotionally charged crowd. Many appreciate Penn’s aggressive nature but cooler heads must prevail in that situation, particularly on the the road in a hostile environment.

T Demar Dotson
Dotson didn’t give up a sack in Thursday night’s big road win, but did struggle to keep Vikings defensive end Brian Robison from batting three Freeman passes down at the line of scrimmage (one was on a rollout by Freeman where Robison was unblocked). The Buccaneers seemed intent on getting several quick receiver screens set up in the first half but Robison would have nothing to do with that, clogging Freeman’s throwing lanes and batting the ball twice on screens. Dotson apparently hasn’t mastered the cut block quite yet, and it potentially could have been a disaster had Robinson managed to wrap his hand around the ball as opposed to swatting them down.

KR Roscoe Parrish
Parrish committed a deadly and sometimes job-costing Schiano offense fumbling a punt return in the first half. Parrish fortunately was able to recover his mishap and most likely saved his roster spot with the recovery. But even when managing to field punts cleanly, Parrish was unable to make anything out of the returns, netting zero yards on three returns.

CB Leonard Johnson
It was a tough decision to place Johnson on the disappointing list as he was thrust into the starting nickel back role in such a crucial game. Johnson actually played well in coverage including one pass break up and also notching his first career NFL interception. But Johnson, who also is part of the punt unit, had two penalties during the course of the game, one for holding and another for illegal hands to the face.

Dishonorable Mention:
CB Eric Wright

Last modified on Friday, 26 October 2012 00:59

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  • avatar

    I too thought Leonard Johnson not only played well but gives us a lot of hope. In fact, I would have put him on the Most Impressive list for being such a positive surprise and having so much game. Ronde should have been on Most Impressive, not just mentioned. Some of his best plays did not make the stats but we all saw the near sacks that caused bad throws. He had a great game and is have another stellar season looking younger than yesterday. Amazing. I also thought Penn played well! He does not back down from anyone and other than that one sack held off Allen all game. But you know me, My most Impressive List would have started with Coach Schiano and ended with every player on the roster and including the entire coaching staff! I saw the future of Buccaneer football Thursday night and I damn sure liked what I saw!
  • avatar

    Take Johnson off special teams and start him at corner and Roscoe must parrish he has what you might call "slow twitch muscles" not good for a returner. Hey how about that O-Line? they are the best!
  • avatar

    Disappointing list or no disappointing list , I was so happy last night that i could 'nt even go to bed. SCHIANO FOR PRESIDENT ......
  • avatar

    Why is RB Smith not returning kick-offs? Am I missing something here?
  • avatar

    Roger roger! I think we're all with you on that one...send Parrish packing!
  • avatar

    Hawaiian Buc, as a Buc in Hawaii I agree. Johnson had a good game. Mark I usually agree with you, but not tonight. And I liked Penn's show of aggression. I am tired of the bucs being a soft, finesse team-especially on offense.
  • avatar

    Man, you guys are really passionate about who gets put on these - subjective - lists by PR. I agree with all of the listed players. PR was just pointing out that Penn & LJ made the list for particular plays (Penn for changing crowd/momentum & LJ for two specific penalties). So, yes, these were highlighted disappointments in an otherwise positive game all around. Based on the tirades below, one would think PR was listing guys'who should be cut'. Seems Biggers would be on that list for sure! I'm just happy with the win - who cares about lists?
  • avatar

    Is it just me or does E. Biggers remind you of Tim wansley??? They both get burned on a consistent basis.
  • avatar

    I agree with everyone else, LJ was terrific...especially considering how bad the rest of the CB's played. He should have been on the most impressive list and should probably start at CB next week with Wright. Penn played well and should not have made the most disappointing list. If you needed a couple of bums to put on that list, how about Blount, Benn, and the special teams coach. I really don't understand why Blount cannot charge ahead and get 2 yards with that big body when nothing is there. Benn looks terrible and has no agility. He should not be returning kicks! Who is responsible for picking the returners? Both of them look awful. Put Smith back there. At least he is quick and has some wiggle. With the inordinate amount of penalties on Special Teams and the lack of any productive returns during this season, I think we need to start questioning the ST Coach. He needs to do a better job. Dishonorable mention goes to the DB Coach.
  • avatar

    Yeah, Penn's scuffle with Allen might have revved up the crowd and led to Allen's sack, but it also sent a message that the Vikings weren't going to intimidate us in the slightest. Outside that sack, the fight did nothing to motivate Minnesota.
  • avatar

    Are you absolutely "NUTS" putting Penn on the disappointing list? He brought to the BUCS what they need the most....toughness with a mean streak!!! Jared Allen had his lunch "gift-wrapped" and handed to him and I applaud Penn for his aggressive play. You are wrong about Leonard Johnson as well. The undrafted, free agent had a terrific game and his tackling and pass coverage was terrific all night long. PR: where were you watching this game and what were you doing, getting your fingernails buffed?
  • avatar

    Only one player deserves to be on the Most Disappointing List and that's Roscoe Parrish. Fortunately, the Bucs recovered his fumble, but even on the other punts, he looked like he had never seen a football before.
  • avatar

    I think putting Penn on the disappointing list for the altercation is crazy. He was playing to the whistle and Allen got bent out of shape. I mean Penn held last years sack leader to one sack, that is pretty impressive. You want your offensive linemen to be mean and nasty, so you can't criticize them when they get in a guys face who is bent out of shape b/c he's being dominated.
  • avatar

    How about the do nothing third down back for most disappointing instead of Leonard Johnson, who should be a permanent nickel back from now on! Otherwise you were Right On, Mark. And thanks for giving well deserved recognition to Lorig, who turned the corner to an outstanding fullback last night! Yes Dotson does need to learn the art of chop blocking, but I am so happy with both his pass blocking and his run blocking and he should be a permanent RT for the Bucs for many years to come. And I thought our RG was a help yesterday too and a huge improvement over Ted Larsen, who needs to be utilized solely as a backup center, which is why we obtained him in the first place. And all the coaches showed remarkable improvement as well! This team is on the right track now. Pickup a first string CB next year in the draft and a second string TE and maybe a third string backup guard and grab a decent third down back in free agency, or get smart, and give Smith some experience at that position (yes, he is strong enough to block) and he has blazing speed and moves and can catch the ball. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Where is EJ Biggers on this Most Disappointing list? He was atrocious in pass protection AGAIN. If you watched Ponder, his eyes would consistently look for whomever #31 was covering and throw it to that receiver with almost total success. If there is one Buccaneer I would like to replace/upgrade it would be Biggers. He's horrible and I say this after almost getting on the "he's a little better this year" bandwagon. He's not better. It's the same crap every week.
  • avatar

    Mr. Incredible, I agree.
  • avatar

    If you're on facebook, like my page "Cut EJ Biggers". I've had it for a year now. Can't stand that fool!
  • avatar

    Toof I'll put one of those drops on Martin, but that's where Josh has really struggled, the short passing game. Those batted down passes Mark blamed on Dotson, Josh could've done a better job with his delivery. One he side armed right into the guys chest. He needs to put the ball where a back doesn't have to do a have spin just to catch it.
  • avatar

    Contrary to the Saints game where I thought the coaches, both offensive and defensive, had their heads up their rear ends, I thought the coaches had the team well prepared in every phase of this game. Congrats to Schiano. I like the direction this team is going.
  • avatar

    And also, how the heck is Doug Martin on the most impressive list? This guy was terrible...haha, just kidding. But all joking aside, there is one major issue I have with DM at this moment: after his 3 drops last night, he officially leads the NFL in the category. I know he's better than that, and I'm sure he does too. But gotta put a lid on that before it gets way out of hand. Go BUCS!!!
  • avatar

    Sorry PR, but I have to pile on here. There's no way #29 was a disappointment last night. When you take a kid who was an UNDRAFTED FREE AGENT just 6 months ago and he defends 3 passes, picks off a pass, and arguably picks off another, you can't call him a disappointment. Were the penalties disappointing? Yes. Was it disappointing when AP ran through an arm tackle of his and scored a 60+ yard TD? of course. But the kid got passed up by all 32 teams on draft weekend and just largely contributed to a win. If nothing else, don't even include him in the article. His contributions certainly at least matched the damage his penalties and missed tackle did. And to focus on that missed tackle for a second...come on, how many CBs in all of football are gonna make a perfect form tackle on AP there? #20 himself also missed a tackle there, and he is perhaps the best tackling CB of all time. Sometimes, you have to tip your cap to the other guy. I'm not holding that play against Johnson. Great game, Leonard. I liked this kid going into the draft and was thrilled to get him as a FA. Keep up the hard work and clean up those penalties!
  • avatar

    Out of 46 players you found it necessary to include Largo High's Leonard Johnson on the Most Disappointing List? Even Horse, who attended rival Clearwater High wouldn't do that. As much as I like LeGarrette Blount, his play of late has been less than expected. But after a win like this, I think we should focus more on the several who impressed and in particular Coach Schiano and the coaching staff. With only a few days to prepare a dejected team after the loss to the Saints, they got the team prepared to defeat a 5 dash 2 team featuring three of the top players in the league in their house on a national stage. Not bad Coach. And the best part was, you just lined up our guys and whipped them.
  • avatar

    Scubog, I agree. I can't knock Largo High because both my kids graduated from there. Go Packers, but Tornadoes first. Now my grandchildren attend Dunedin schools and one is a Falcon, ugh!
  • avatar

    I have to agree, that I felt like Leonard Johnson had a terrific game. Some rookie mistakes perhaps, but overall, provided some much needed toughness and spark in the secondary.
  • avatar

    Johnson had 3 passes defended, by the way, not one. The team only had 4.
  • avatar

    Putting Leonard Johnson on the disappointing list is laughable. The guy led the team in passes defended, had one INT, and should have had another had they reviewed the play. So despite that, he's disappointing because he committed 2 penalties (which I don't remember either BTW)???? He drew a 15 yard penalty on a play as well, but I guess that means nothing. I love Pewter Report, but putting him on the disappointing list is embarrassing to this site.
  • avatar

    Johnson...no. Biggers...a resounding YES! The guy get torched on a routine basis!
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