TAMPA – In a contest that was blacked out locally and delayed 30 minutes due to lightning, Tampa Bay got zapped by the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, 19-13, on Saturday night, but not before the starting Buccaneers offense and defense built a 13-6 halftime lead. The Jaguars out-gained the Bucs 396-191 yards but the combination of efficient play by quarterback Josh Johnson, who was starting in place of injured quarterback Josh Freeman, who broke his thumb in last week’s 20-15 win over Kansas City, and Tampa Bay’s stout red zone defense were the difference through three quarters.
The play of Johnson, who saw action into the third quarter and finished the game completing 9-of-14 passes (64.2 percent) for 122 yards and one touchdown, was the highlight for Tampa Bay.
“So far, so good,” Johnson said. “We have to get more positive yards out of our first and second downs and stop getting into so many third-and-long situations. We’ve moved the ball pretty well, the defense gave us a turnover, and we were able to capitalize and get a touchdown.”
Johnson said that he is prepared to start against Cleveland if Freeman’s broken thumb has not healed sufficiently to play.
“I’m the second-string quarterback on this team. That’s my role,” Johnson said. “Josh Freeman is our starter. My job is when I’m called upon, the ship has to keep sailing. The ship can’t stop. It can’t dock at all. The ship has to keep sailing and we have to keep getting points on the board.
Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard completed 24-of-31 passes for 211 yards on Tampa Bay’s defense through three quarters. The fact that he completed a stunning 77.4 percent of his throws did not sit well with the middle linebacker Barrett Ruud and the rest of the Buccaneers defense.
“It’s been a lot of bend, don’t break, but we probably bent a little too much for our liking,” Ruud said. “We would like to get more three-and-outs and more turnovers.”
Ruud had the first of Tampa Bay’s two interceptions on the night, a huge pick at the Buccaneers 1-yard line that he returned 80 yards to the Jacksonville 19. That play thwarted a potential Jaguars touchdown and set up a Buccaneers touchdown just before halftime.
While Tampa Bay’s first-team defense allowed Jacksonville to accumulate 220 yards and convert 50-percent of its third down conversions, but the Buccaneers red zone defense held Jacksonville to 0-for-3 on touchdowns in the first half and 0-for-4 in the game.
The Bucs were disappointed that their running game couldn’t get going. Tampa Bay rushed for only 42 yards on 15 carries (2.8 avg.). Derrick Ward led all Bucs rushers with 19 yards on four carries (4.8 avg.).
The Jaguars got on the scoreboard first thanks to a 47-yard kick return by Scotty McGee out to the 50-yard line. Garrard was 3-for-3 on the drive for 39 yards with tight end Marcedes Lewis hauling in two catches for 33 yards. The drive stalled at the 17-yard line and Josh Scobee was called on to kick a 35-yard field goal. That gave Jacksonville a 3-0 lead with 11:44 left in the first quarter.
The Bucs answered with a field goal of their own thanks to a 53-yard completion from Johnson to Mike Williams, who was finally tackled at the Jacksonville 35. Williams would have a breakout game, catching three passes for 83 yards. Three plays later, Connor Barth nailed a 51-yard field goal. With 9:01 left in the first quarter, the score was tied 3-3.
On third-and-goal from the Tampa Bay 1-yard line, Jacksonville was threatening to score near the of the second quarter when middle linebacker Barrett Ruud stepped in front of fullback Greg Jones near the goal line and returned the pick 80 yards down to the Jacksonville 19 where he was tackled by Jones.
“Yeah, it was good,” Ruud said. “Terrible return, but the pick was good and stopped a touchdown. I would have liked to [have] scored though.”
A 12-yard catch by tight end Jerramy Stevens set up the Bucs at the Jaguars 7. Four plays later, and after a defensive holding penalty on Jacksonville, Johnson hit fullback Earnest Graham with 2-yard touchdown pass off play action. With 1:51 left in the first half, Tampa Bay took a 10-3 lead.
“It was just a play-action pass and Earnest got past the defense, got open and made a good catch and touchdown,” Johnson said.
With Tampa Bay in a prevent defense, Garrard nickel-and-dimed the Buccaneers defense and drove the Jaguars 49 yards in 11 plays. Scobee’s 43-yard field goal was good and Tampa Bay’s lead was cut to 10-6 at halftime.
Johnson drove the Bucs 58 yards in 10 plays, hitting Mike Williams with gains of 12 and 18 yards. Backup running back Derrick Ward, who was inserted into the game ahead of Kareem Huggins, ripped off runs of nine and 12 yards on the drive. After Barth’s 40-yard field goal, Tampa Bay’s lead increased to 13-6 with 10:36 left in the third quarter.
Garrard remained at quarterback throughout the third quarter and led Jacksonville on a 14-play, 70-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a 27-yard field goal by Scobee. With 2:50 left, Tampa Bay’ lead was reduced to 13-9.
After another terrible punt by Bowden – this one a 20-yarder – Jacksonville took over on the Tampa Bay 30. Two plays later, former Bucs quarterback Luke McCown rifled a 27-yard pass to John Matthews, who beat cornerback Elbert Mack and rookie safety Cody Grimm in coverage. With 1:14 left in the third quarter, the Jaguars took a 16-13 lead.
McCown led the Jaguars on another scoring drive that culminated in a 48-yard field goal by Scobee. With 10:52 left in the game, Jacksonville’s lead increased to 19-13.
Third-string quarterback Rudy Carpenter struggled and could not rally the Bucs for a game-winning touchdown. Carpenter completed just 4-of-13 passes for 36 yards and threw a game-clinching interception late in the fourth quarter.SATURDAY’S STARTING LINEUPS
The announced Tampa Bay starting lineup for Saturday’s game was as follows:BUCS STARTING OFFENSE
WR Mike Williams
LT Donald Penn
LG Keydrick Vincent
C Jeff Faine
RG Jeremy Zuttah
RT Jeremy Trueblood
TE Kellen Winslow
WR Sammie Stroughter
FB Earnest Graham
RB Cadillac Williams
QB Josh JohnsonBUCS STARTING DEFENSE
LE Kyle Moore
DT Gerald McCoy
DT Roy Miller
RE Stylez G. White
WLB Geno Hayes
MLB Barrett Ruud
SLB Quincy Black
LCB Aqib Talib
RCB Ronde Barber
FS Tanard Jackson
SS Sean JonesMISSING IN ACTION
Here is a list of Tampa Bay players that did play in Saturday’s game:
QB Josh Freeman (broken thumb)
RG Davin Joseph (hip flexor)
WR Maurice Stovall (sprained ankle)
LB Jon Alston (undisclosed)BUCS IN-GAME INJURIES
Tampa Bay strong safety Sabby Piscitelli suffered a mild concussion in the fourth quarter and had to leave the field. He did not return.KICKOFF CONDITIONS
The announced attendance for the Buccaneers vs. Jaguars game at Raymond James Stadium was 42,640 although the stadium was barely half full. The kickoff temperature was 88 degrees under sunny skies with 98-degree heat index. UP NEXT
The Buccaneers (1-2) will travel to Houston (1-2) on Thursday, September 2 in Tampa Bay’s preseason finale. Kickoff is set for 8:00 p.m. ET and will be televised locally on Channel 8 (NBC) WFLA.
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