Behind six sacks by the Bucs defense, which held the 49ers to 189 total yards, and two TD passes from Josh Freeman, including one to LT Donald Penn, Tampa Bay recorded a rare road shut out in San Francisco, winning 21-0.
California is known as the “Golden State,” but up until Sunday’s 21-0 shutout win over the 49ers, Tampa Bay never struck it rich and found much gold in San Francisco after long cross-country flights. The Buccaneers, who improved to 7-3, entered Sunday’s game at Candlestick Park with a 1-11 lifetime record in the home of the 49ers, but this isn’t your ordinary Tampa Bay team.
Under head coach Raheem Morris the West Coast has been much kinder to this young, talented Bucs team than under previous head coaches. After a road victory at Seattle last year in Morris’ first season running the team, the Bucs, who he has dubbed the "West Coast Killers," have also scored wins out west against Arizona and San Francisco. Sunday’s triumph came in dramatic fashion with a shutout performance by Tampa Bay’s much-maligned defense.
Sunday marked the first time the 49ers had been shutout at home since October 9, 1977 when Atlanta triumphed, 7-0. The last time Tampa Bay recorded a road shutout was the 2003 season opener at Philadelphia where the Bucs prevailed 17-0.
The Bucs came into Sunday’s game ranked 22nd in total defense and 31st in run defense, allowing an average of 143.8 yards per game on the ground. San Francisco, which had won its last two games to stay alive in the NFC West playoff hunt, managed only 189 yards of total offense, including just 71 yards rushing, which was a season-low for Tampa Bay’s defense. Running back Frank Gore was held to 23 yards on 12 carries (1.9 avg.).
Tampa Bay was last in the NFL in sacks with just eight on the year, led by defensive end Stylez G. White’s three, but sacked quarterback Troy Smith a season-high six times. White had 1.5 sacks against Smith on Sunday, sharing one of those QB captures with rookie defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the team’s first-round pick in 2010. McCoy, who was sackless heading into the San Francisco game, also split a sack with rookie defensive tackle Al Woods to finish with one sack in the game. Not only did Woods and McCoy record their first career sacks, as did Adam Hayward, who started in place of Quincy Black at strongside linebacker. Defensive ends Alex Magee and Michael Bennett recorded their first sacks of the season.
Smith completed 16-of-31 passes for 148 yards and rushed five times for 45 yards, but he was no match against Tampa Bay’s defense. Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber recorded his 40th career interception on Sunday, picking off Smith. Barber is now the only player in NFL history with 40 picks and 25 sacks. His interception on Sunday was returned 29 yards down to the 49ers 7-yard line.
Three plays later, Josh Freeman threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to left tackle Donald Penn, who is a native of California, to give Tampa Bay a 21-0 lead in the fourth quarter. Freeman completed 13-of-20 passes for 136 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Freeman’s favorite target all year has been rookie wide receiver Mike Williams, who played in Sunday’s game despite being charged with suspicion of DUI on Friday morning. Williams caught three passes for a game-high 54 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown in the third quarter to give Tampa Bay a 14-0 lead.
Rookie running back LeGarrette Blount continues to dazzle on the ground, rushing for 82 yards on 26 carries, including another highlight-reel hurdle. Blount broke a tackle attempt by San Francisco linebacker Takeo Spikes in the third quarter and hurdled over 49ers safety Reggie Smith to cap off a 16-yard run into the red zone.
Cadillac Williams added 51 yards and scored the game’s first touchdown on seven carries as Tampa Bay rushed for 162 yards on 42 carries.
After a scoreless first quarter, Tampa Bay finally got on the scoreboard at the start of the second quarter. Blount had carries of 11 and 12 yards, Freeman had nine yards on two carries and backup QB Josh Johnson rushed for seven yards out of the Wildcat to pick up a total of five first downs. The drive covered 80 yards in 14 plays and was capped off by a 6-yard touchdown run by Williams. With 9:03 left in the second quarter, the Bucs led 7-0.
Tampa Bay had a failed scoring drive in the third quarter. Tight end Kellen Winslow picked up 21 yards and two first downs on two receptions, and wide receiver Maurice Stovall had a 22-yard gain down to the San Francisco 30-yard line. But on fourth-and-3 from the 23, Connor Barth’s 41-yard field goal was wide left with 5:11 left in the third quarter.
However, the Bucs defense forced a three-and-out on the 49ers’ next possession and the offense took advantage. On first-and-10 from the Tampa Bay 34, Freeman hit Mike Williams for a 33-yard pass down the middle to the San Francisco 33. Blount ripped off a 16-yard dash and followed that up with a 2-yard run. Cadillac Williams caught a 7-yard pass down to the 8-yard line. On third-and-1 from the 8, Freeman threw a touchdown pass to Mike Williams and with 41 seconds left in the third quarter, Tampa Bay’s lead increased to 14-0.
The Bucs added more points in the fourth quarter following Barber’s 29-yard interception return down to the San Francisco 7. On third-and-goal from the 49ers 1, Freeman threw a touchdown pass to Penn, who had reported as an eligible receiver. With 8:18 left, Tampa Bay had a commanding, 21-0 lead.STATS THAT COUNT
Adam Hayward got his first NFL start in place of the injured Quincy Black at strongside linebacker and finished with two tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss. Hayward recovered a fumble to end San Francisco’s first drive. … Free safety Cody Grimm was the Bucs’ leading tackler with seven stops on Sunday. … Linebacker Geno Hayes was second on the team with four tackles and also forced a fumble in the first quarter. … The Bucs converted 50 percent on third down (7-of-14) and held the 49ers to just 25 percent (3-of-12) on third down. … Tampa Bay came into the game with a plus-5 turnover margin and won Sunday’s turnover battle 2-0. The Bucs are now plus-7 in turnover margin. … Tampa Bay’s offensive line did not have a penalty on Sunday.SUNDAY’S STARTING LINEUPS
The announced Tampa Bay starting lineup for Sunday’s game was as follows:BUCS STARTING OFFENSE
WR Mike Williams
LT Donald Penn
LG Ted Larsen
C Jeff Faine
RG Davin Joseph
RT James Lee
TE Kellen Winslow
WR Arrelious Benn
FB Earnest Graham
RB Cadillac Williams
QB Josh FreemanBUCS STARTING DEFENSE
LE Tim Crowder
DT Gerald McCoy
DT Roy Miller
RE Stylez G. White
WLB Geno Hayes
MLB Barrett Ruud
SLB Adam Hayward
LCB Aqib Talib
RCB Ronde Barber
FS Cody Grimm
SS Sean JonesBUCS’ GAMEDAY INACTIVES
Here is a list of Tampa Bay players that did play in Sunday’s game:
QB Rudy Carpenter
FB Erik Lorig
OT Will Barker
OT Derek Hardman
DT Ryan Sims
DE Kyle Moore
LB Quincy Black
WR Preston ParkerBUCS IN-GAME INJURIES
Bucs left guard Ted Larsen may have suffered an undisclosed injury. He started the game, but left in the second quarter and was replaced by Jeremy Zuttah.
Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy injured his left knee after his fourth quarter sack in the game’s waning moments when defensive end Stylez G. White landed on McCoy’s knee. McCoy limped off the field and did not return.KICKOFF CONDITIONS
The announced attendance for the Buccaneers vs. 49ers game at Candlestick Park was 69,732. The game was played under partly sunny skies with a kickoff temperature of 54 degrees and 65 percent humidity.UP NEXT
The Buccaneers (7-3) will travel to Baltimore (7-3) to face the Ravens on Sunday, November 28. Kickoff is set for 4:05 p.m. ET and will be televised on Fox.
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