The Buccaneers’ hot, 7-3 start to the 2010 season has largely been a product of two things: great play by second-year quarterback Josh Freeman and a positive, plus-7 turnover ratio. Even though the Bucs won the turnover battle 1-0 on Sunday, Tampa Bay lost in Baltimore, 17-10, largely because of the poor play of Freeman, who really struggled against the Ravens pressure defense until late in the fourth quarter.
Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris has often said that as Freeman goes, so goes this young Buccaneers team, and unfortunately Freeman had his worst game of the season in Baltimore. Although he didn’t throw any interceptions and wasn’t sacked, Freeman was wildly inaccurate and often under pressure.
“We weren’t able to get our rhythm going, move the ball and drive it down the field like we’ve done, get our run game going, like we’ve been able to do the last couple of weeks,” Morris said. “That’s the result of when we play a really good Ravens defense. They did a nice job today and our offense didn’t play well enough to win the game. We didn’t give ourselves an opportunity. We could have gotten the ball back. I’m not pointing the finger at those guys, either. I’m just saying as a team, we have to do all those things better.”
After the game, Freeman was disappointed with his performance.
“I played extremely poorly,” Freeman said. “There are a number of balls I usually hit that I missed. I felt like I really had an off game. I just wasn’t getting it done. When you pass as many times as I did, you’ve got to complete more balls.”
After completing the first four passes against the Ravens, Freeman went just 13-of-33 (39.3 percent) throughout the game, including one stretch where he was just 5-of-20 (25 percent) before rebounding on the Bucs’ lone touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
Freeman finished the game 17-of-37 (45.9 percent) for 162 yards with one touchdown and a quarterback rating of 67.6. His lone touchdown pass of the game, a 5-yard strike to tight end Kellen Winslow, came with 3:05 left on the clock to cut into Baltimore’s 17-3 lead.
For the second straight game this season, the once-porous Bucs defense did a great job of defending the run, holding the Ravens to just 92 rushing yards on 26 carries (3.5 avg.) after limiting San Francisco to 71 last week.
But Ray Rice was able to run the clock out by catching a one-handed 11-yard pass from Joe Flacco and then ripping off runs of 16 yards and a pair of 6-yard runs to ice the Ravens’ win. Rice, who was held to 57 yards on 17 carries (3.4 avg.) prior to the last drive, finished the game with 85 yards on 20 carries (4.3 avg.) and also had seven catches for 47 yards.
Tampa Bay held Baltimore to just 25 percent on third downs (3-of-12), but the Ravens were able to make some big plays in the passing game over the last four minutes of the second quarter to build a 17-3 halftime lead.
Despite getting sacked four times, Flacco was a masterful 25-of-35 (71.4 percent) for 289 yards with two touchdowns and one interception against Tampa Bay. Wide receiver Derrick Mason led the way with a game-high eight catches for 87 yards and a 10-yard touchdown, while tight end Todd Heap had two catches for 79 yards, including a 65-yard score as the Ravens jumped out to a 10-0 lead.
The Ravens’ big plays in the passing game came after rookie free safety Cody Grimm suffered what appeared to be a broken left ankle as he was blocking for Aqib Talib’s 25-yard interception return. After the game, Morris would not confirm that Grimm’s ankle was broken, but the injury will likely cost the seventh-round pick the rest of the 2010 season.
“I’m not sure. I have to get detailed information on that as we go,” Morris said about Grimm’s ankle injury. “He’s our starter. You lose a starter in a game, the guy is playing well for you, and now you have to go out there with a guy who played limited reps, and the guy who didn’t have as much opportunity to play this week. That’s always going to be hurtful, so you have to go make up for it.”
The Ravens outgained the Bucs 349-263 – with 77 of those yards coming on Tampa Bay’s final drive. The Bucs rushed for 101 yards led by 55 yards on 13 carries by LeGarrette Blount and the rookie wide receiver duo of Mike Williams, who had a season-low two catches for 20 yards, and Arrelious Benn, who was limited to three catches for nine yards, was held in check by a stout Ravens defense.
The loss sends the Bucs to 7-4 on the season along with the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers behind division leaders Seattle and St. Louis (both 5-6 in the NFC West), Philadelphia (7-4 in the NFC East), Chicago (8-3 in the NFC North), Atlanta (9-2 in the NFC South) and 8-3 New Orleans. The Bucs will host Atlanta next week as they fight for playoff contention.
“Disappointing loss,” said Morris. “They’re a very good team. Some tough breaks. Our football players played their hearts out. I was proud of them, we’ll move on. We’ve got a chance to go play a division opponent at home and finish this quarter 3-1. And that’s the only thing we care about at this point.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Baltimore got on the scoreboard first with a field goal. The Ravens took over at the Tampa Bay 41 as the Bucs were forced to punt from their own end zone. The key play for the Ravens was a 13-yard pass from Flacco to T.J. Houshmandzadeh to the Tampa Bay 22. But after getting down to the Bucs’ 16, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy sacked Flacco for an 11-yard loss. That forced a 45-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff. With 13:54 left in the second quarter, Baltimore led 3-0.
The Bucs tied the score with a field goal of their own, which was set up Talib’s 25-yard interception return down to the Ravens’ 36-yard line. The key play was a 19-yard pass from Freeman to tight end Kellen Winslow down to the Baltimore 15 on third-and-8. Freeman picked up another first down to the 4-yard line with an 8-yard scramble on third-and-7, but the drive stalled there and the Bucs had to settle for a 22-yard field goal from Connor Barth. With 4:32 left in the first half, the game was tied 3-3.
Baltimore came roaring back with a four-play scoring drive capped off by a 65-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to tight end Todd Heap. With 3:04 left in the second quarter, Baltimore’s lead had increased to 10-3.
The Ravens would score again before halftime using another short field from their own 45. The key play was a questionable, 24-yard pass interference penalty on rookie cornerback Myron Lewis on Houshmandzadeh, which gave Baltimore a first down at the Tampa Bay 10. On the next play, Flacco hit Derrick Mason for a 10-yard touchdown. With 32 seconds left in the second quarter, the Ravens’ lead swelled to 17-3.
The Ravens had a 76-yard touchdown catch by Rice on a screen pass nullified by an illegal block above the waist penalty on wide receiver Anquan Boldin in the third quarter, which helped Tampa Bay. The Bucs then were able to force a punt later in the drive.
The Bucs finally got on the scoreboard again in the fourth quarter. Tampa Bay marched 77 yards in 13 plays with Freeman dinking and dunking passes to wide receivers Micheal Spurlock and Mike Williams, running back Cadillac Williams and Winslow to get the ball down to the Ravens’ 5-yard line. On first-and-goal from the 5, Freeman found Winslow for a 5-yard touchdown. With 3:05 left in regulation, the Ravens’ lead was cut to 17-10.STATS THAT COUNT
Bucs rookie defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recorded his first solo sack of his NFL career in Baltimore on third down to force a field goal. McCoy came into the game with one sack, but that was a product of two half sacks last week at San Francisco. He added another in the fourth quarter to finish with a career-high two in the game. … Bucs defensive end Tim Crowder recorded his third sack of the season when he dropped quarterback Joe Flacco in the first quarter. … Tampa Bay safety Sean Jones recorded his first sack of the season when he corralled Flacco in the third quarter. … Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib picked off Flacco in the second quarter to record his sixth interception of the year, which set a new career high. Talib now ranks second in the NFL behind Philadelphia’s Asante Samuel (seven interceptions). … Middle linebacker Barrett Ruud had a team-high nine tackles. … Wide receiver Maurice Stovall had a game-high three special teams tackles. … Bucs tight end Ryan Purvis got his first NFL start on Sunday as the Bucs went with three tight ends to open up the game.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
TE John Gilmore
TE Ryan Purvis
RB LeGarrette Blount
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 Quincy Black
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
WR Preston Parker
OT Will Barker
OT Derek Hardman
DT Frank Okam
DE Kyle Moore
CB Elbert MackBUCS IN-GAME INJURIES
Right guard Davin Joseph was sidelined by a foot injury in the first quarter. Joseph was replaced by Jeremy Zuttah, who moved over from left guard to right guard. Ted Larsen was inserted at left guard to replace Zuttah.
Free safety Cody Grimm was injured on Aqib Talib’s 25-yard interception return in the second quarter. Grimm had his left leg rolled up on by cornerback Anquan Boldin during Aqib Talib’s interception return and suffered a broken ankle. He was replaced in the lineup by Sabby Piscitelli.KICKOFF CONDITIONS
The announced attendance for the Buccaneers vs. Ravens game at M&T Bank Stadium was 70,989. The game was played under sunny skies with a kickoff temperature of 48 degrees and a wind chill of 47 degrees.UP NEXT
The Buccaneers (7-4) return to Tampa Bay to host Atlanta (9-2) to face the Falcons on Sunday, December 5. Kickoff is set for 4:15 p.m. ET.
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