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November 27, 2011 @ 5:06 pm
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

Golden Chance Wasted By Bucs; Keys To Victory Graded

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Coming up a few plays short both offensively and defensively, the Buccaneers' playoff chances appear to be on life support. Saturday's Five Keys To Victory Column is revisited here in this PewterReport.com exclusive weekly feature.

Key 1. Use Blount Force Trauma
Although he fumbled on his first carry of the game after a 12-yard gain, Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount picked up where he left off last week in Green Bay by running hard and hurdling would-be defenders.

Blount had 42 yards rushing at halftime and added another highlight-reel play after catching a 35-yard Freeman pass and leaping over a Titans’ cornerback.

Blount’s punishing running style continued in the second half but he also had another critical fumble, allowing the Titans to strip the football away. While everyone loves the second- and third-effort Blount displays, turnovers happen often in those situations.

For the game, Blount had 103 yards on 20 carries and added a career-high three catches for 56 yards but also two important fumbles.
Final Grade: B

Key 2. Keep Johnson Struggling
Tennessee star tailback Chris Johnson’s game started slowly getting stuffed on his first two carries, but he broke out of his funk and gained 46 yards on nine carries in the first half. For some reason in the second quarter Tennessee got away from the run.

Beginning the second half Tennessee went back to Johnson and was marching down the field when Aqib Talib forced a Johnson fumble that was recovered by Sean Jones.

Poor tackling and lack of gap integrity led to more second-half chunks of yardage and by midway through the third quarter Johnson had already gained 100 yards.

The Buccaneers had no answers for Johnson all day, and even when they knew Tennessee was going to run the ball near the end of the game, they still allowed Johnson to break off a long first-down run with the two-minute warning approaching.

In Johnson’s first five games this season he ran for a total of 190 yards, Sunday he matched that on just 23 carries.

Final Grade: F

Key 3. Hassle Hasselbeck
Tampa Bay’s defense did a good job of staying in Titans QB Matt Hasslebeck’s face but the crafty veteran still was able to make some plays. Da’Quan Bowers applied pressure early and often and the Buccaneers coaching staff dialed up several blitzes with its linebackers and even Ronde Barber and safety Sean Jones. The play calling helped force a first-half Geno Hayes interception.

In the second half Adrian Clayborn pressured Hasselbeck into throwing late off his back foot and Aqib Talib stepped underneath the route and picked off the Titans QB, returning it for a touchdown.

The pressure continued but the Buccaneers only were able to bring down Hasselbeck two times: one by Haynesworth (officially scored a team sack) and another by Clayborn. Clayborn notched his team-leading fifth sack of the season. But when it mattered the most, the Titans 13-year veteran was able to calmly march the offense downfield behind the legs of Johnson and a few clutch throws, tossing the game winner to Damian Williams inside two minutes.
Final Grade: C

Key 4. Find A Nickel
E.J. Biggers was his usual up-and-down self early, getting caught playing the quarterback instead of the receiver in the first half on a third-down conversion and also missing two tackles. One allowed Tennessee to convert on third-and-17 and led to a field goal to extend the Titans first-half lead to 10-3. Biggers did have a big pass breakup in the first half, knocking the ball loose from Tennessee receiver Damian Williams. In the third quarter Biggers again saved a touchdown pass by breaking up another throw while in man coverage at the goal line.

Biggers' game Sunday was much improved over the last few weeks but he continues to be one of the poorest tacklers in the secondary. For some reason Biggers never tackles high, normally just diving at the opponents’ feet.

Elbert Mack, playing in dime packages, and had a pass break up early but not a lot after that.
Final Grade: C

Key 5. Seize The Day
The table was set, but the Buccaneers spilled dessert down the front of their uniforms, keeping the game close but being unable to finish. With tons of confidence, especially offensively, you would think the Buccaneers had a chance to silence the critics, but they were unable to step up to the challenge.

All the progress made last week at Green Bay in stopping the run was for naught, as the Buccaneers apparently need some more full padded practices this week. Tackling was as bad or worse than against Houston two weeks ago.
Final Grade: F

Final Analysis
With the season on the line, Tampa Bay blinked and couldn’t make the critical stop or offensive conversion when those plays were needed most. The playoffs are still a mathematical possibility, but hey, so is winning the lottery. Things are about to get ugly on talk radio and internet message boards.

The next five games will be a test of character for this young football team. Guys can choose to mail it in and look forward to their offseason or fight to gain respect from their fans and peers around the league.

This will be head coach Raheem Morris’ most critical coaching stretch.

Cook’s Prediction: Buccaneers 21, Titans 17
Reynold’s Prediction: Buccaneers 24, Titans 20
Horchy’s Prediction: Buccaneers 27, Titans 20
Actual Final Score: Titans 23, Buccaneers 17

Last modified on Sunday, 27 November 2011 19:47

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  • avatar

    We wouldn't have needed to have a last minute drive if we hadn't gotten 2 penaltys in a row on the drive before hand that killed us when we were inside their 30 and rolling. I do agree that you don't need to spike the ball with that much time left, I just think that we wouldn't have even been in that situation if it weren't for two stupid penaltys back to back on the earlier drive. We really snatched defeat from the jaws of victory Sunday. And sadly I'm not surprised CJ broke out against us. In many ways, this is as bad a loss as the 49ers game because really, we threw this one away.
  • avatar

    I caught most of the game on the radio but I couldn't watch it since I was travelling. I can't comment much since I couldn't see the details of why things didn't work out so I'm going to have to rely on you guys this week.
  • avatar

    Are we really questioning a spike call? The only poor play of that series was a botched snap on the QB dive. If we make that simple play, nobody's talking about a spike. It's a judgement call, but certainly not a coaching mistake.
  • avatar

    Whether Raheem as the Head Coach continues beyond this season is in question. His tenure as Defensive Coordinator has to be terminated whether he likes it or not. Far too many high round draft picks to be playing this poorly.
  • avatar

    Thank you Mark for pointing out the folly of spiking the ball. Morris at his presser was asked why and he said that's what you do after making a first down with no time outs. Yeah maybe if you need 80 yds for a score, but not 35. The Buc's needed the downs not the time. I've forgiven alot by this staff, but the last 2 minutes of this game has convinced me they don't know what they're doing.
  • avatar

    I really believe the OC is holding this team back. We have some young talented players on offense. This coaching staff has no idea how to utilize them. Granted Freeman is not playing as well but the playing calling is crap, taking Blount out of the game on third downs at this point in the season is a joke. Williams is turning into the second coming of M. Clayton. Why can't we figure a way to use Benn, Briscoe and Parker. Good OC's figure out how to spread the ball around.
  • avatar

    Agree with both of you. Freeman seems indecisive against zone defense. At least from my view point it looked like very little man coverage. Lumpkin has got to fight harder and know where the sticks are. I rewatched and it was a great spot. However officials should have measured in such a critical part of the game. And disagree with Morris on spiking the ball two plays before. 1:20 left at Titans 34. line up and call a play. If nothing is there throw it away to stop the clock. I'll have more on that series in the a.m. in our roundtable story.
  • avatar

    Freeman looked slow and did not do well; I hope he realizes that and shrug it off the like he has done in the past. The OC and DC should be fired! Both called poor plays and schemes at the worst times.
  • avatar

    Was at the game today. Very dissappointing to see this one slip away. Very questionable play calling to say the least. Why on a third and one do we pull Blount out, when he is averaging 5+ yards a carry to pass? Why are we taking him out on most 3rd downs. The guy proved he can catch the damn ball. Lumpkin is not an upgrade on third downs. Didn't think we would lose this one today.
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