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October 23, 2011 @ 6:58 pm
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

Bucs Couldn't Run The Ball, Couldn't Stop Forte

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Each week PewterReport.com's Mark Cook comes up with five keys he thinks the Buccaneers should try to achieve in order to win their upcoming game. After the game Cook revisits the keys and grades the team on how well they performed.

Pewter Report Buccaneers beat writer Mark Cook grades Tampa Bay for how it did – and didn't – follow his Five Keys To Victory in the team's 24-18 loss to the Chicago Bears

Key 1: Get Some Hands On Hester

All in all, the Buccaneers were able to achieve this key. Michael Koenen was again one of the bright spots in a poorly played game, keeping the ball out of Hester’s hands at times with directional kicking. The Buccaneers special teams did a good job of staying in their lanes and working Hester to the sidelines on kick coverage, limiting the game-changer to just a 6.6 average on punt returns and one kickoff return for 14 yards.

Koenen’s leg continues to be a weapon, as Tampa Bay’s prized free agent averaged 43.5 yards on eight punts including a season-long of 65. The former Falcon still has yet to have a touchback all year while punting, and placed three more inside the Bears 20.

The Buccaneers defense was fairly successful against Hester as a receiver, limiting him to 46 yards on five receptions with a long of 15.
Final Grade: B+

Key 2: Keep Graham Going
Unfortunately for Graham, the Buccaneers and their fans, the eight-year veteran injured his ankle while catching a short pass from Josh Freeman early in the first half. As a result, the game plan of establishing an effective ground game was essentially thrown out of the window, with Kregg Lumpkin the only healthy back on Tampa Bay’s roster.

Lumpkin is no Blount, or even Graham for that matter, and was held to 15 yards on eight carries. There has been a concern all season with the running back depth, and even more so after the Buccaneers cut Allen Bradford and didn’t promote rookie Mossis Madu from the practice squad.

Without a true run-threat the Buccaneers were swimming against a strong current the moment Graham left the game. He finished the game with two carries for 13 yards (6.5 avg.) and one catch for minus-2 yards, which was the play that he got hurt on.
Final Grade: F

Key 3: Gain The Crowd's Affection
While it was hard to judge from television how many Buccaneers fans were in the crowd, the applause seemed to be evenly split. And for those neutral fans, it was the Bears who seized the momentum in the first three quarters, giving them the edge in the 12th man.

The Buccaneers attempt for a fourth-quarter comeback had the 75,000-plus fans in attendance cheering, but Freeman’s late fourth-quarter pass was intercepted handing the victory to Chicago.

Playing in a foreign country is a tough chore, as a couple players told us before leaving, mentioning the crowd isn’t as familiar with when to cheer and when not to. That can make it a little strange to feed off of the energy as they would if this contest had been played at Raymond James Stadium.

We aren’t saying for sure that had this game been played in Tampa it would have made a difference, but it certainly wouldn’t have hurt.
Final Grade: C

Key 4: Continue To Protect Freeman
The Tampa Bay offensive line has been a solid rock in pass protection for the most part this season and Sunday was a mixed bag. While Freeman was only officially sacked once, the pressure from the Bears’ front four harassed Tampa Bay’s QB for much of the day, forcing Freeman to scramble and throw the ball away several times.

With that said, in the second half, even when the line had to be reshuffled again, the offensive line was a big part of Tampa Bay’s comeback that came up just short.

The Bears ran several stunts and at times confused the line. Without center Jeff Faine, and later Jeremy Zuttah, who injured his left knee in the game, communication issues may have contributed to the pressure. The Bucs offensive line was also called for one illegal hands to the face, two false starts and three holding penalties against the Bears.
Final Grade: C-

Key 5: Build A Fort Around Forte
From the first quarter on, Bears running back Matt Forte ran with ease against the Buccaneers defense. Forte had over 100 yards by halftime and finished the game with 145 yards on 25 carries, including a 32-yard second quarter touchdown run that helped build a 14-2 lead over Tampa Bay.

Middle linebacker Mason Foster left the game early but backup Adam Hayward played well for the most part, collecting five tackles. Too many missed assignments and not maintaining lane and gap integrity hurt Tampa Bay all day long in run defense. The Buccaneers safety support was poor most of the afternoon on running plays, particularly on the two rushing touchdowns by Marion Barber and Forte.

The Bears rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns, although the Buccaneers did tighten up in the fourth quarter by coming up with three key third-and-short stops, putting the ball back in the offense’s hands.

But by that time, the damage had pretty much been done and the inability to stop the run was the biggest single factor in the Buccaneers now sitting at 4-3 as opposed to 5-2.
Final Grade: F

Final Analysis: Coming into the game it appeared the Buccaneers had the upper hand with the fact they arrived early while the Bears didn’t arrive until Friday. But it was the Bucs that looked as though their body clocks were in need of resetting, especially through the first three quarters. The bye week couldn’t have come soon enough as the amount of players who were injured over the last two weeks will need the full two weeks to have chance to get back on the field.

Cook’s Final Score Prediction: Buccaneers 24, Bears 20
Actual Final Score: Bears 24, Buccaneers 18

Last modified on Sunday, 23 October 2011 20:53

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  • avatar

    Tell Glazers home games are important to winning games - giving this up to their's and the NFL's global vanity has hurt the Bucs. Should and could have won this one. Injuries hurt - pun intended - but we lost due to poor QB play, poor execution and bad coaching. Ra needs to get serious about getting these guys on track, get healthy, kick some @$$ and be ready to take on the Saints.
  • avatar

    The Glazers know home games are important and they want all of them in London eventually. This is just the beginning of their plan to move the Bucs, so they can make more money at Wembley.
  • avatar

    Did I mention that I hate how the Glazers are handling the Bucs? I thought they were great at first, but year after year and little by little they have eroded any respect I once had for them.
  • avatar

    As bad as it was, we had a chance late. Injuries, penalties and turnovers...let's get healthy. The Saints game after the bye is HUGE.
  • avatar

    Hayward played more then well, Hayes was the problem today. I made it a point to watch Hayes today because I've been down on the guy. He played like a puss. The Bears ran where ever he lined up with good results. Bad angles, constantly blocked out of plays. He did have one tackle for a loss, but only after the D end blew up the play.
  • avatar

    Forte is who we thought he was a one man wrecking crew.
  • avatar

    He was. That guy is running on EVERYONE..not just us. Fantastic vision and great patience as he waits for his running lanes to develop.
  • avatar

    You say there has been a concern all season about the RB depth. By who?? Damn sure not the team or they would have done something about it getting a vet in here. All the posters are the only ones who were concerned all the way back to the offseason!! Now there are 2 weeks to get ready for the Saints. The coaches better get on it. Last time was luck of the draw Drew screwed up. Other wise field goals would have come back to bite them in the A$$. A bunch of field goals will not get it done this time. JMO Go Bucs. Get Better!!!!
  • avatar

    The injuries is what did it for. We are couldn't overcome all the key players who were already out of the game before the game and then during the game. We actually had a chance to win at the end and as bad as it was; we almost did. We're at the buy week and let's hope we heel. I am okay with where we are; 4 and 3. Go Bugs! Let's get heeled!!
  • avatar

    Go Bugs???!! LOL! If they keep playing like Sunday we may lobby to change the name Horse! 'grin' They've been buggin' all their fans.
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