Home » Articles » Game Coverage » Lions Roar In Season Opener, Beat Bucs, 27-20
  • increase font size
  • Default font size
  • decrease font size


September 11, 2011 @ 7:25 pm
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

Lions Roar In Season Opener, Beat Bucs, 27-20

Written by Eric
Horchy
Eric Horchy

Eric
Horchy

Beat Writer E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Detroit dominated Tampa Bay in the Lions' 27-20 season-opening win. The Bucs defense surrendered 431 yards as the team fell behind 27-13 in the third quarter. Lions QB Matthew Stafford threw for 305 yards and three TDs, including two to WR Calvin Johnson.

The running game never gained traction, the passing attack couldn’t leave the ground and the Tampa Bay defense – on the field for 36 minutes and 25 seconds – watched quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions win the season-opening rematch from last December, 27-20.

Stafford hit receiver Calvin Johnson twice for touchdowns as Detroit out-gained the Buccaneers in total yardage, 431-313. After three quarters, that stat was at 414-128, Detroit was winning the time of possession battle 32:07 to 12:53 and the Lions were ahead by two scores, 27-13.

Quarterback Josh Freeman and the Bucs offense struggled to sustain drives and stay on the field throughout the day. Tampa Bay was unable to convert a first down on three of its first four drives Sunday afternoon and did not push deeper than the Detroit 46 until its last series of the first half.

The anticipated featured match-up between Johnson and Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib finished decidedly in favor of the Lions star dubbed "Megatron." Stafford went Johnson’s way 10 times and completed six passes for 88 yards. Talib was beat on a stop-and-go move during the first touchdown, a 36-yarder on fourth-and-2 with 7:25 left in the second quarter. Johnson’s other scoring grab – a 1-yard fade to the right side of the end zone with 6:23 remaining in the third – caught Talib shading to the middle and he was unable to recover.

“Calvin [Johnson] ran a good route,” Stafford said of the first touchdown hook up. “[Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan] called a great play. It was the perfect play for that situation – we knew they had an aggressive corner over there. Calvin wanted to shut him down all day, and [Talib] wanted to prove himself against a great receiver.”

Johnson’s second touchdown put Detroit ahead 27-13 and concluded an 11-play, 70-yard drive that took 6 minutes 30 seconds off the clock.


Tampa Bay’s offensive stumbling continued throughout that third quarter, but the Bucs managed to remain in the game thanks to a defense forcing punts on the Lions’ last four possessions, including two three-and-outs.

After narrowing Detroit’s lead to 27-20 on Freeman’s 5-yard touchdown to receiver Mike Williams in the back of the end zone with 1:40 showing on the clock, Tampa Bay found itself within a single possession despite the Lions’ statistical dominance. Williams’ catch, which came on fourth down as he skied over a Detroit defensive back and kept his feet together in bounds, was his fourth of the day for a combined 50 yards.

“It was kind of a two-man look where the cornerback played way inside and [Freeman] gave me a signal where I have to go to the inside route,” Williams said of the touchdown. “I knew I couldn’t get in front of him so I went behind him just so I could tell Josh basically to throw it up.”

The Bucs defense – which produced the game’s first touchdown in the first quarter – stuffed Detroit’s next possession on three plays and gave Freeman one final opportunity to tie the game. Tampa Bay took over at its own 20 after Ryan Donahue’s punt bounced into the end zone and the offense was faced with marching 80 yards in just one minute and seven seconds. After two first-down completions and a 5-yard Detroit penalty for having 12 men on the field, the Bucs found themselves at the Lions 42 with 16 seconds remaining. Freeman was able to get two plays off, but the second ended in multiple laterals and a fumble recovered by Detroit safety Louis Delmas.

The loss marked Tampa Bay’s fourth out of its past five in season openers. It’s only win in that span came with last year’s home triumph over Cleveland.

Conditions for Sunday’s opener were listed as 86 degrees and sunny at kickoff and paid attendance was announced as 51,274. The day was also one of remembrance at Raymond James Stadium. Along with the rest of the NFL, the Bucs took time to remember the 10th anniversary of 9/11 before kickoff. Also honored were former Buccaneers great Lee Roy Selmon and Tampa Tribune sports columnist and editor Tom McEwen. Both passed away earlier this year, with Selmon's death occurring just last Sunday.

The game’s defensive starters were as follows: LE Michael Bennett, DT Gerald McCoy, DT Brian Price, RE Adrian Clayborn, WLB Geno Hayes, SLB Quincy Black, LCB Aqib Talib, RCB Ronde Barber, FS Cody Grimm, SS Sean Jones, DB E.J. Biggers.

Tampa lined up offensively with: TE Kellen Winslow, LT Donald Penn, LG Ted Larsen, C Jeff Faine, RG Davin Joseph, RT Jeremy Trueblood, TE Luke Stocker, WR Arrelious Benn, WR Mike Williams, RB LeGarrette Blount and QB Josh Freeman.

Inactive for the Bucs were: S Larry Asante, RB Allen Bradford, CB Myron Lewis, CB Anthony Gaitor, T Demar Dotson, T Derek Hardman and TE Zack Pianalto.

The Lions took the game’s opening drive 76 yards to the Bucs' 4, but had to settle for a 23-yard Jason Hanson field goal. Tampa Bay linebacker Geno Hayes was in on coverage of Detroit tight end Brandon Pettigrew on third down and eventually tied for the team lead in tackles with eight, along with strong safety Sean Jones and linebacker Quincy Black.

A 78-yard kickoff return by Sammie Stroughter set up a Bucs field goal by Connor Barth, and Tampa Bay tied the score at 3-3. Early during Detroit’s next possession, Talib, covering Lions tight end Will Heller near the left sideline, intercepted a tipped pass that was overthrown by Stafford and returned it 28 yards to the end zone to put the Bucs up 10-3 in the first quarter.

Hanson added a 28-yard field goal on Detroit’s next time with the ball and the first quarter ended with the Bucs ahead, 10-6. Since Tampa Bay’s offense did not produce over seven points in the period – let alone any – the streak of the Bucs not being able to score over that number grew to 55 straight games.

“We’ve been talking about it all offseason,” Bucs head coach Raheem Morris said of the team’s slow offensive starts. “It’s something that we have got to figure out fast. We have 15 more weeks to figure it out. That’s all you’re guaranteed, and it’s up to us as coaches and up to us as players to all go and lock in and start faster.”

Still holding a 10-6 advantage with 10:34 left in the second quarter, Freeman’s interception in the end zone by Detroit’s Chris Houston began a run of Lions successes in which Tampa Bay could not put a stop to. Detroit scored touchdowns on its next three possessions spanning into the second half and were up 27-13 after Stafford’s second connection with Johnson. Sandwiched between Johnson’s two scores was an 11-yard touchdown reception by tight end Tony Scheffler.

Freeman’s 152-yard fourth quarter performance allowed his numbers to bump up into respectability when compared with the competition across the field, but Stafford still won that individual battle. Stafford went 24-of-33 for 305 yards and threw three touchdowns and an interception, while Freeman finished 28-of-43 passing with 257 yards, one touchdown and the interception.

Freeman actually exited the game at one point with just over six minutes left in the third quarter and headed into the locker room to get an I.V. due to cramping. Backup Josh Johnson replaced him for the final play of the drive and ran one more entire Bucs drive, completing 1-of-3 passes for seven yards.

“You talk about rhythm, but in the first quarter I was on the field for maybe five plays,” Freeman said about the offense’s first-half ineptitude. “It’s definitely tough. You have to maximize your potential on first and second down so you’re not in a third and long situation.

“The Detroit offense did a good job of holding the ball for a long time. We’ve got to help our defense out in that manner because being on the field for that long just wears and wears and wears on the defense.”

Freeman returned to start the fourth quarter and led the team's most impressive series. Starting at their own 8-yard line, Freeman went 7-of-10 passing for 75 yards during the 13-play drive and worked Tampa Bay down to the Lions 11. The effort stalled out abruptly, though, when running back Earnest Graham fumbled on a fourth-and-1 run up the middle.

Along with the Johnson-Talib matchup, the Detroit defensive line against the Tampa Bay offensive line was another anticipated contest. While defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was a statistical non-factor – recording one tackle and one quarterback hurry – the Lions defensive front recorded two sacks, three hurries and limited the Bucs to only 56 yards rushing on 16 carries. Running back LeGarrette Blount, after picking up over 1,000 yards last season, was shut down in his 2011 debut for 15 yards on five attempts. The nonexistence of a ground attack carries over a theme from the preseason. Again, a Bucs quarterback – Josh Freeman with 26 yards – represented the team’s leading rusher.

Detroit, on the other hand, was led on the ground by Jahvid Best’s 72 yards on 21 carries and the Lions totaled 126 yards. Tampa Bay’s defense, though on the field for 32:07 of 45:00 total minutes in the first three quarters, had few answers for the Detroit attack. The Bucs’ retooled defensive line, with the addition of rookies Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers, is being tasked with increasing pressure on the quarterback after the unit combined for only 26 sacks last season. That objective was not reached, though, and Stafford rarely had to leave the pocket or rush throws. Tampa Bay recorded no sacks and no official quarterback hurries.

Adding to the Bucs’ defensive line woes Sunday was the hamstring injury to tackle Brian Price in the third quarter. The team did not elaborate on the issue following the game, but Price suffered a season-ending pelvic and hamstring injury in 2010.

The Bucs will attempt to rebound from their Week 1 loss by heading up to Minnesota to take on the also-winless Vikings next Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Minnesota fell to San Diego, 24-17.

Last modified on Monday, 12 September 2011 08:10
ARTICLE RATING

Only registered users can rate articles!

COMMENTS

  • avatar


    Maybe we can punt the Vikings to death!
  • avatar

    I agree with macabee. Actually I was mad at Direct TV. I watch games via my PS3 here in San Jose but the 1pm games I was unable to watch because they were having some technical issues ugh! It was just a bad weekend. It's one game. At least all the teams in our division are 0-1 as well. :)
  • avatar


    Was at the game,what a spanking. It was a high school team vs pro's.
  • avatar

    First off the Bucs did not commit to the run 16 rushes to 46 pass attempts, there is something missing there. I feel as though the O.C. felt threatened after the lions first drive as if we were behind. Blount is the type of back that wears down the defense especially in that heat and don't forget Graham is a power back as well use those guys interechangeably and you'll wear them down. Then at the end of the halfs is where you'll see those guys break the 20+ yard runs. Once again the play calling was poor. I actually believe the defense played well, considering they just simply worn out, time of possesion killed them too many 3 and outs kept them on the field to long. The lions executed a great game offensively they kept the defense guessing, short pass, then the draws to Best and then Plays by CJ. Stafford was sharp and looked confident, he played a great game. Bucs lets learn from this and Bring it to the Vikes. Stick to that ground game
  • avatar

    I didn't get to see game as I am 15,000 miles away but from what I could tell on delay was that we just got b tc ed slapped. Our Defense was run over like deer in the headlights. McCoy might as well have not even been playing. Same goes for Clayborn. But I think it is way to early to panic. Freeman looks a little rusty but he came on in 4th Qtr. That seems to be his MO. when things are down he seems to dig in and really shine. Give it a few games Buc Fans.
  • avatar

    Wrong....McCoy and Clayborn actually had pretty good games.
  • avatar


    I've had a very bad week. Federer lost, Serena lost, the Bucs lost - as a matter of fact everybody in the NFC south lost. I'm going outside now to see if my dog decided to stick around! I kid because it's really not that bad. The Bucs played like the rookies and near rookies that they are. The ones that didn't have OTAs or mini-camp, got new coaches, learning a new scheme, and lost a couple of experienced players on both sides of the ball. Not to mention that a huge number of key players are trying to come back from serious injuries. I'm not making excuses, I'm just stating fact. They will get better as all rookies do with experience - even our franchise QB has only had 1 full season of play. Don't blame the coaches for hyping their young players to exceed expectations, but those of us who have been following this game for decades and lived through many coaching and GM administrations, should put "youngry" and "we're going to win the NFC South" into perspective and only expect our young team to keep improving, but not perform miracles. We will get our champion and our championships, but it's going to take time!
  • avatar

    Aaaaaaahh....a voice of reason. How refreshing. Someone not writing the Bucs off after one game. We're still tied for first in our division....
  • avatar

    46 pass attempts to 16 rush attempts, this stat alone tells the story of the game. Olson abandoned the run, Freeman is the franchise but no one can overcome the lack of a running threat. The defense wasn't great but produced turnovers and points.
  • avatar

    I kept rubbing my eyes thinking it would go away! Is it possible that our young team was really this unprepared to play? Totally a "management gaffe" that cannot be repeated. NFC South 0-4. Punt!
  • avatar

    It's one game. Offense looked pretty bad in 1, but seemed to find its footing in 2nd.
  • avatar


    When you have a 250 lb Q.B.the highest paid center, and new contract D.J., you sneak the ball!! Why would you hand the ball 4yds behind the line of scrimmage. 3RD,AND 1,OR 4TH AND 1Q.B. sneak!!! We were out coached on both sides of the ball today.
  • avatar

    @surferdudes- I agree totally, Freeman is 250 lbs just put your head down and go man!
  • avatar


    I find it hard to read what some of you guys regurg the bandwagon effect sickens me...we win oh yeah great job...everybody is the greatest!!! we lose and coaches suck...players cant play...we should have got that 100 million dollar 38 year old cause he has to be good!!!...its that stuff! the reason on opening day the Lions fans were drowning out our fans!!! its one game and i bet the Steeler fans are not saying or poor me after getting spanked!!
  • avatar


    Cadillac Williams got 91 yards for the Rams today on 19 carries -- 4.8 yards per tote
  • avatar


    bad new is we were not ready to play..started to look up in the second half on Offense...young guys on D need to step up...and Blount needs to remember not to stutter step... that's why he was pulled he played like preseason flat and indecisive...we didn't get spanked like the Falcons Steelers and Chiefs! Get it together Bucs!!!
  • avatar

    Pathetic on both sides of the ball- end of story!!
  • avatar


    WOW ZERO SACKS A BIG ZERO!!! ON A LINE THE WE INVESTED TO YEARS WORTH OF DRAFTS ON. THIS IS A LIONS OFENSIVE LINE THAT COULDNT KEEP STAFFORD OFF HIS *censored* AND WE CANT EVEN BUY A SACK.
  • avatar

    Apparantly you are thinking of the old Lions. This Lions team has won it's last 5 games and dominated in the preseason. It's hard to sack a QB who is throwing with a 3 step drop. Don't blame the D-line, blame the coverage for allowing him to throw so quickly.
  • avatar

    Was Brian Price hurt? Saw him stumbling like he could hardly walk.
  • avatar

    That was pathetic! You can handle a loss in a well played game but not the case today! Horrible coaching by Olsen and our O-line still is mediocre at best. Maybe Freeman needs to play no huddle all the time....he seems to have better success!
  • avatar

    Poor coaching. Poor players. GM needs free agents in here. The stadium empty. This team needs to clean house. Two years of blackouts????? you tell me PR, this organization is aweful. How can you defend this crap?
  • avatar


    Man there are more spazzy, whiny overreacting little girls on this site. The doomsayers are out. The season is over for the Bucs, Steelers, Falcons, Saints and the Jags are going to win the superbowl. Might as well not play the other 15 games. Oh and Cam Newton is the greatest QB ever to play the game! Get real....!!
  • avatar

    LOL!! I agree. It's pathetic. The stadium is empty because we have fans just like the ones who post here.
  • avatar


    Relax, remember our beloved Bucs lost the first game of the championship season. The "train" has barely left the station. Not sure how some "fans" find pleasure in gloating after a loss. I can't imagine the team playing much worse in the first half and I doubt the Lions could play much better. As Sam"5 dash 2" Wyche used to say, "It's a marathon not a sprint." What do you think Chiefs, Steelers, Falcons and Colts fans are thinking after their less than stellar start? And don't forget the Browns losing to the Great Gradkowski. It's a long season fellow posters; don't skin your knees jumping off the bandwagon just yet.
  • avatar


    Bad play calling and offensive decision making is what led to our defense bogging down so early. They were on the field, what, 75% or more of the first half? That is unbelievable. They got too tricky in not using Blount. Yes, they were expecting him but you gotta use your best players even though teams know they're coming. And how about developing a short passing game? Blount looked really good in that role in the preseason. Good news is even with all that, we still had a chance to pull even and maybe even win it. It's not all bad. As for Price, I think we just lost our 2010 second round pick maybe for good. That sucks more than the loss to the Lions.
  • avatar


    Wait, Rah just needs to spin the thing. 1 We fix the running attack. 2. We fix the sack attack. 3. Give Talib back his gun. We need to fix the big long term contracts we gave to linemen that can not open holes, an get a RB that could find them if they were there.
  • avatar

    you can pin this loss on Greg Olsen. His playing calling is absolutely ATROCIOUS!!! That of which led to the defense spending 3/4's of the game on the field in unforgiving heat. Its makes me sick. Seriously. I honestly have no idea why he is still on the coaching staff
  • avatar

    Raheem had his hiccups but you cannot put the loss solely on him. You cant contain a young high powered offense for a whole game, especially when the defense is on the field for so long. You want to blame someone for not having heart, pride, effort and enthusiasm, look at the OC. Raheem is our leader, physically and emotionally. Greg Olsen doesnt have half of what Raheem brings to the team each and every day
  • avatar


    How about blaming the players who didn't do it today. If they had then we all would be prasing Olsen as brilliant.
  • avatar

    Are you serious?!? Raheem - that was pathetic! Is that all your team has? You want to win the division? There is a little thing we call effort and most Football players learn you need to have it to win during the peewee Football years. Not to mention heart! Where is it man? Man that was a discrace! You don't win the NFC South by being lazy, slow, and out of place. That was crap! You didn't deserve to be within 7 points! Heart, Pride, & Effort - you better find some before you step on that field again....
  • avatar


    And our 3rd down back is WHERE????? Way to go DOM!!!
  • avatar


    The train wreck hath arrived. No, I'm not saying we won't win any games, so when we do win here and there please save your breath/fingers instead of flaming me. But as I've said repeatedly our OL is mediocre at best, at least 3 and probably 4 of our starting 5 would be bench warmers and/or would not have made the cut on other teams. That plus no outside speed in the run game means our favorite play, to whit "Freeman scrambles for his life and throws to Williams who makes an acrobatic catch" is going to be less successful than last year. And regardless, it is not a formula that can be consistently reliable. Rah may be a great coach one day, but high energy + low salary does not = consistent winner. For those who were able to see the game, dominated is the right word, we looked absolutely terrible until the very end when the Lions only needed to work the clock and were probably feeling the effects of the heat. I remain sickened but convinced we're an 8-8 +/- one game (I frankly fear worse but am trying to remain calm despite 5 p-a-t-h-e-t-i-c games in a row). Go Bucs.
  • avatar


    I feel the same way as you do matador. Lets hope things will get better.
  • avatar

    I'm just wondering...are we really that bad or is Detroit really that good?? Did seem like some boneheaded coaching moves but it's hard to know what was going on behind the scenes. Giving Blount that few carries was just crazy. If you're not gonna hand the ball off to him that use him as a safety valve and get him the ball in the open field. Just not a good day for the Bucs. I've been critical of our O-line since pre-season and it looks as though that criticism is well founded. Next draft should be heavy O-line. The defense really didn't play that bad for as long as they were on the field. Hope Price is OK.
  • avatar


    gahtadreem, Blount wasn't effective because the OL couldn't block as a unit and we are a very poor short passing team. Part of that is because Freeman has no time to sell anything.
  • avatar


    I was hopeful before the game that we were not going to see the team that we saw during pre season and now it looks like they are the same team. I watched the whole game in Tallahassee and Detroit was dominating when the game counted. Most of our yardage was picked up after Detroit was up by 14 and with less than 10 minutes to go in the game. I am not saying we are a bad team because we are not; I am saying that this team was not ready for regular season to start. Very poor time management behind 14 ponts and less than 10 minutes to go. On Offense it was poor execution by the OL; WR's dropped passes they should have caught; Freeman was not at full throttle most of the game and looked slow to react at times. On Defense the DL could not put pressure on the QB nor stop the RB's; the LB's couldn't cover nor tackle; the Safety's were very slow to react and tackle; and the CB's were so-so except for not stopping Calvin Johnson which most teams can't anyway. Over all it was an embarassing start, but we have had this happen to us many times before and have come back from this. I am still hopeful that we can turn this around. Go Bucs! Get better!
  • avatar


    I did not get to sew the game. Was Blount hurt ? Why was he pulled after 4 carriers. Graham is not a feature back. He's barley a good third down back. The defense never got to catch its breathe it was on the field for almost 23 mins of 30 in the first half. A defense will always lose if on the field that long.
  • avatar

    Well that was not the way to start a season. I wonder if not playing the starters last week made them a little off this week... oh well... the year we won the Super Bowl we lost the first week so bring on Minnesota.
  • avatar


    This game is just reinforcing what we saw last season: No-huddle offense is Freeman's bread and butter (catching the defense off balance). And the O-line didn't hold up very well in the running game and the defense couldn't stop the pass. On a positive note I liked what I saw out of Clayborn (despite his absence on the stat-sheet).
  • avatar

    Worst coaching performance I have EVER seen!! Shotgun draw play on fourth and 1?? Pathetic in all spects of the game. What happened to Blount? Give him the damn ball and pound the rock. That game made me sick
  • avatar


    Was a difficult game to watch for me. I was real perplexed by our move to not stick with the run at all. I like Graham as a 3rd down back but we acted like we were down by 30 when we were only down by 3 when we pulled Blount. Screw it though, I'm still gonna catch every game this year win or lose.
  • avatar


    the guys that mad plays during the pre season should be on the field. Okam, gator, Asante, Madu ,watson and Gant. Gant and Madu did bring a bit more speed to the table. Okam and watson should start ; Biggers seens like he doesn't want to hit anyone.
  • avatar


    They are better than what we got to see today. Extremely poor coaching in my opinion.
  • avatar

    Someone please take our entire defense to a POP Warner game so they can see how to tackle by wrapping up instead of always going for the ball and missing or trying for the big hit and the runner bouncing off for 6 more yards.
  • avatar

    My biggest disappointment was our experienced very well paid and “very talented’ offensive line, supposedly a team strength, not coming through on those two crucial short yardage plays. Also, a young QB and receivers will be inconsistent some weeks, so our veteran O-line has pick up the offense and carry it during those times. They did not do so today.
  • avatar


    Olson needs to GO!
  • avatar

    Ugly... Also hate to say I told you so but price should not have been on the field yet, career done now for sure.
  • avatar


    Buccaneers coaching make LB ineffective, so what if he gets stopped 3 times, he needs to touch the ball 15 times in a game like that, threw in the towel after the first series of second half. where were the passes in the flat to him. Greg Olsen and Rah need to get this thing figured out. Go Rays.
Only registered users can write comments!
  • Blog

  • Articles

  • Around the Web

more RSS feed
moreRSS feed

Magazine

View Magazine Front
Forecasting 5 Future Contributors In Tampa Bay Forecasting 5 Future Contributors In Tampa Bay Every NFL team looks to build depth and find some starters on occasion by taking other teams’ castoffs and developing them. Mark Cook offers up five development Buccaneers that could step up in 2014.
Missed an Issue? Archive
View Magazine Front

Poll

Which position should the Bucs adress with the No. 7 pick?


Pewter Report: Your source for inside and breaking news on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Hide Tools Show Tools