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December 21, 2009 @ 9:30 am
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Offense Shows Signs Of Life

Written by Jim
Jim Flynn


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The Bucs benefited from an all-around impressive effort in Seattle en route to their 24-7 win over the Seahawks Sunday. Bucs head coach Raheem Morris said Monday that QB Josh Freeman, the running backs and the offensive line responded well after an embarrassing outing vs. the N.Y. Jets one week earlier.
Tampa Bay's offense currently ranks 29th overall in the NFL, but it showed signs of life during the Bucs' 24-7 road win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

The Bucs produced 339 yards of offense in the contest. The key to Tampa Bay's offensive success was the ground game, which featured 34 rushes for 134 yards (3.9 avg.).

Before the season started, Bucs head coach Raheem Morris wanted his offense to be a dominant running team. That hasn't happened in 2009, but Morris hopes the running game in Seattle is a sign of things to come in Tampa Bay.

"It just takes time," said Morris. "It didn't happen as fast as any of us would have liked. Hopefully that's who we are. Hopefully we can go out there and continue those types of performances with the run and the play-action pass. Yesterday was really a team effort. You're talking about two running backs that had over 60 yards apiece. The ball went all over the place. That's what we were yesterday and that's what we have to be."

The Bucs haven't produced a 100-yard rusher through 14 games this season. However, both Derrick Ward and Cadillac Williams proved to be quite productive on the ground in Seattle. Ward turned in his best game as a Buc, carrying the ball 19 times for 67 yards (3.5 avg.). Williams had 12 carries for 66 yards (5.5 avg.).

While Ward and Williams have received a lot of credit for Tampa Bay's successful outing in Seattle, Morris, who insisted Monday that he never lost faith in offensive coordinator Greg Olson's game plan, said the Bucs offensive line stepped up after watching Tampa Bay's offense be limited to 124 yards of offense in the team's 26-3 loss to the New York Jets one week earlier.

"I have to thank [the media] for that. [The media] hit them up pretty hard and they responded," Morris said of the Bucs offensive line. "They were looking forward to your articles this morning. That was the main topic of discussion amongst [center] Jeff Faine and those guys. Those guys don't like to be embarrassed, and they were [against the Jets]. They responded yesterday. I'm proud of them."

The other Bucs player that rebounded Sunday was rookie quarterback Josh Freeman. Heading into Sunday's game, the first-round pick had thrown eight interceptions in his last two outings.

On Sunday, Freeman benefited from Tampa Bay's commitment to the running game, completing 16-of-26 (61 percent) passes for 205 yards while tossing two touchdowns to Ward and Williams and throwing just one interception. He also scored a 2-point conversion on a quarterback draw.

"You never really know what you want him to throw," Morris said of Freeman's 26 pass attempts. "You want him to go out and be his best self everyday. Yesterday that was the range you wanted him to throw. We felt like we had the ability to run the ball and we did it well. We were able to do some timely passes and throw some nice ones down the field. But if you look at the game at Carolina a few weeks ago, outside of those red zone plays Freeman threw it 40-something times and had over 300 yards passing. We don't want to stop him from doing that, either. We just need better decisions in the red zone. Same as yesterday's game. It's the progression of our young quarterback."

The Bucs went into halftime trailing the Seahawks 7-3, but turned in a strong third quarter, which was a pleasant surprise seeing as how Tampa Bay had been outscored 20-74 in the third quarter heading into Sunday's game.

The Bucs scored 18 of their 24 points in the third quarter. Tampa Bay's defense dominated Seattle, holding the Seahawks to just 20 yards of offense in the third quarter. That effort, along with the Bucs ending their drought of 11 straight quarters without an offensive touchdown with Freeman's two TD passes and a field goal by kicker Connor Barth allowed Tampa Bay to outscore Seattle 18-0 in the third quarter.

Morris said his team accepted to the challenge he issued them at halftime in Seattle. The result was Tampa Bay's second win of the season.

"We've struggled as a team in the third quarter of games for the most part, but yesterday was completely the opposite," said Morris. "What we did yesterday was how it should be and how you want to come out of the half. I told these guys [at halftime] that there's no reason for us to wait around until the end to try and win games. There's no rule saying we can't go out and absolutely dominate the football game. That's what they went out and did yesterday."

Quote of the Day
Bucs head coach Raheem Morris on coaching and player jobs being on the line this time of year.

"Job security is not an issue for coaches. We don't have any. You just go out there and present your best self every day. That's all I can do. We make decisions based on how we can go about beating the Saints or our next opponent. There will be no decisions made based on saving Raheem Morris or saving [general manager] Mark Dominik or saving any player. The decisions are made to determine what gives us the best chance to beat the New Orleans Saints, period."


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