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December 17, 2011 @ 11:14 pm
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

Bucs Fall To Cowboys, 31-15, Lose Eighth Straight

Written by Eric
Eric Horchy


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The Dallas Cowboys raced out to a 28-0 halftime lead and hung on for a 31-15 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on NFL Network's Saturday Night Football. The Bucs have now lost eight straight games and are 4-10 on the season.

By the time Tampa Bay’s offense found any type of footing Saturday night it was far too late for the visiting Dallas Cowboys to be concerned.

Quarterback Tony Romo finished with a rating of 133.9, threw for 249 yards, accounted for all four of Dallas’ touchdowns and ultimately led the Cowboys to a 31-15 victory.

While Dallas bolstered its playoff chances by improving to 8-6, Tampa Bay’s nearly two-month tailspin continued. The Bucs dropped to 4-10 and their losing streak grew to eight while playing in front of a sellout crowd for only the second time this year.

Tampa Bay and quarterback Josh Freeman were far less successful in impressing on national television. When the Bucs found themselves down 28-0 at halftime, they had then been outscored 69-0 since the middle of the second quarter last Sunday in Jacksonville.

The nemesis from last week – turnovers – quickly affected Saturday’s game on Tampa Bay’s opening drive. Freeman, who finished as the Bucs’ leading rusher with only 37 yards on four attempts, had a ball strip away from behind by linebacker Anthony Spencer near midfield. Linebacker Bradie James recovered at the Dallas 44 and the Cowboys proceeded to score touchdowns on four of its five first-half drives.

As the Cowboys were moving the ball at will in the first 30 minutes, Tampa Bay was forced to punt on its next four drives. Dallas hit on six of its seven third-down opportunities in that span and had 19 first downs compared to just one for Tampa Bay.

“I don’t know,” Freeman said when asked about the offense’s lack of production. “I have to go back and watch the film … to get a fair assessment on exactly what it was. There were times where frustrating, to say the least.”

“To go have [four] three-and-outs and that first turnover, it’s kind of one of those momentum killers,” Bucs head coach Raheem Morris said. “You can’t fumble on the first drive and expect to win football games.”

Dallas outgained Tampa Bay 399-190 for the night in total yardage, including 160-58 on the ground. Running back LeGarrette Blount only received one of his nine carries in the second half and totaled 21 rushing yards. The Cowboys’ Felix Jones became the fifth opposing running back to surpass the century mark, going for 108 on 22 touches.

Nothing about Saturday night’s game was pretty for Tampa Bay, from the scoreboard to the stat sheet to seeing starting cornerback Aqib Talib on the sideline with a re-aggravated hamstring injury. Talib did not play last week and failed to make it out of the first quarter against Dallas.

The Cowboys first three scores came on Romo passes to receiver Austin Miles, Dez Bryant and Laurent Robinson, respectively. All three of the completions came on third down and Romo continually picked apart the Bucs’ zone coverages deep inside Tampa Bay territory.

The home team’s first points didn’t come until early in the second half and courtesy of the defense. Bucs defensive end Adrian Clayborn got around the edge and stripped and sacked Romo on a third-and-19 play that started at the Dallas 11. Linebacker Dakoda Watson scooped up the loose ball and ran it in from the 7.

“We needed a play and I was lucky enough to come up with the sack and thought it was going to go from there. But we kind of stalled out again [in the remainder of the game].”

Clayborn increased his team-high sack total to 7.5 and has more than any other rookie defensive end. Fellow end Michael Bennett recorded the other Bucs sack of Romo, his third of the year.

DeMarcus Ware of Dallas led a Cowboys pass rush got to Freeman for three sacks and five total quarterback hits. Ware’s sack in the second quarter gave him 16 on the year and put him just 1.5 behind Minnesota’s Jared Allen for the league lead.

Dallas capped its scoring for the night midway through the third quarter with Dan Bailey’s 30-yard field goal.

Tampa Bay managed to narrow its deficit to 31-15 after Bailey’s kick on the offense’s only productive drive of the night in terms of lighting the scoreboard. Freeman took the Bucs 75 yards in 12 plays and scored on a 13-yard catch-and-run thrown to Dezmon Briscoe. Tampa Bay had to convert four third downs on the drive.

Briscoe caught all three passes thrown in his direction for a combined 36 yards, but backup running back Kregg Lumpkin led the team in receptions and yardage. Lumpkin pulled in five passes, all screens or short dump-offs, for 50 yards.

“Obviously too little, too late,” Morris said of the Bucs second-half signs of life. “Not enough in the beginning. You can’t dig holes like that for yourself and you can’t play that way on third down. Obviously, when you play what way on third down, both offensively and defensively in the first half, you’ve got no chance of winning a football game the way these guys [the Cowboys] came out and played.

“We’ve got to play better in the red zone on defense, especially. In that first half we’ve got to figure it out a little bit faster, shake those jitters, come out and play like the way we did in the second half on defense and play that way consistently the whole game. Until we do that we won’t win football games.”

If the Buccaneers are to end there current skid of futility, it will have to come against a fellow NFC South opponent during the final two weeks of the season. Tampa Bay will be in Carolina for a Christmas Eve rematch with the Panthers next Saturday. The following week will be in Atlanta on New Year’s Eve, also a Saturday.

Sunday’s sellout crowd at Raymond James Stadium was announced at 65,162 with a game-time temperature of 66 degrees. There was a slight 3 mile-per-hour wind from the northwest and skies were clear.

Starting on defense for Tampa Bay was: LE Da’Quan Bowers, DT Brian Price, DT Albert Haynesworth, RE Adrian Clayborn, SLB Quincy Black, MLB Mason Foster, WLB Geno Hayes, LCB Aqib Talib, RCB Ronde Barber, SS Sean Jones and FS Tanard Jackson.

The Bucs lined up offensively with: WR Mike Williams, LT Donald Penn, LG Jeremy Zuttah, C Jeff Faine, RG Davin Joseph, RT Jeremy Trueblood, TE Luke Stocker, WR Dezmon Briscoe, RB LeGarrette Blount, FB Erik Lorig and QB Josh Freeman.

Seven Buccaneers were listed as inactive. They were QB Rudy Carpenter, WR Arrelious Benn, S Larry Asante, OT James Lee, WR Sammie Stroughter, DE Derek Hardman and CB Myron Lewis.

Last modified on Sunday, 18 December 2011 08:02

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  • avatar

    I give up.....things can't possibly get any worse. Bring in an entire new coaching staff with the exception of special teams and maybe D-line. Whoever the HC is he needs to be a real %$#astard so the players are scared to death. NO MORE PLAYERS COACHES!!!!!!!! These guys are too young for that. They need someone with a size 13 boot to put in their $%&!!!
  • avatar

    As sad as this Season has become, this is not a talent issue. There is significant Talent on this Team. Our Defensive line is stronger even if the stats don't show it. We are better at DE for sure. Price is having a decent yr, and who knows maybe we will get lucky with McCoy someday. Our secondary is strong at Corner but obviously, due to Barber's age and Talib's legal situation, and the lack of strength behind them, we are going to have to draft at Corner. Linebacker is puzzling, as Black seems to be getting worse, and the Rook seems to be on and off depending on the game. I hate to say it but letting our MLB go last yr was a mistake. If nothing else we should have experimented with him at OLB. On offense, we need some Playmakers and some back ups on the line, but this Team's problem is purely a Coaching Problem. As much as it pains me to . say it this coach has lost the respect of the Team ( they like him a lot, but that is not the same as respect) He doesn't put the fear of god in them and consequently they don't train or play like they care.
  • avatar

    This is one bad football team. I don't ever remember seeing a weaker zone defense. No one understands the concept of staying with a player until someone else in the defense picks him up. No one understands what they're doing besides Ronde. When they're in zone everyone seems to be overwhelmed just trying to stand in the right place and no one plays aggresively. No one on offense is consistently good besides Joseph. I'm not even sure Blount is good enough to be a featured RB. If everyone thinks changing the coaching will help that's fine, but I see bad football players more so than bad coaches. I just hope they're bad because they're young otherwise we're going to be bad for the next 5 years.
  • avatar

    Bueller: Sam's 1995 team was 5 dash 2 and finished 7 dash 9. Panzer: I have been to every Bucs home game since 1976, endured the hordes of Bears, Packers, my hometown Steelers and other opponents fans in the late 80's and early 90's but this game felt like I had been tele-ported to Irving, Texas. Jerry "Facelift" Jones was prowling the sidelines and shown in his suite; but I didn't notice the Glazer boys. I guess they were as embarrassed as the rest of us brave and loyal enough to don our red and pewter. I expect a certain amount of etiquette from the visitors and for the most part they were respectful guests. But when a guy comes down my row at 1/2 time, getting in the face of every Bucs fans and saying "Go Cowboys" I must say I was close to pushing him over the seat in front of me but held back and replied "F-you a**hole". This is an example of why season ticket holders are giving up their seats. It's no fun going to a supposed "home" game and have to endure loud and obnoxious fans brought to a frenzy because from the opening drive it was obvious the once mighty Bucs were going to merely go through the motions and allow another mediocre team take their lunch money.
  • avatar

    fire them all. Keep freeman and Blount and start over, how fricken embarassing that the whole world saw how pathetic our team in Tampa next yr, forget about us having a prime time game next yr.
  • avatar

    To some degree Raheem's fate was determined the moment he was hired. Cut ALL vets. Total youth. NO free agent signings other than a kicker. Then a Lockout. No working with the rookie, 2nd, and 3rd year players. Some QB's drafted this year will still be older than Freeman. I can't say I can argue hard for Rah's job, but he did what he was told and now his head might be chopped off. Sam Wyche was the first Bucs coach in 10 years who couldn't make a trade. He drafted Sapp and Brooks in the same draft. Bucs were 5-dash-1 though six games and then finished 6 and 10. He was fired and Dungy was hired. What would Dungy have done without Sapp and Brooks? Tough call on firing Raheem for another unknown. Doubt Bucs will get a big name in there.
  • avatar

    I give up. Horse I couldn't agree more. The playcalling and lack of in game ajustments in game were pitiful. Looks like we'll be starting from scratch next year at least with high draft picks.
  • avatar

    I agree with Horse 100%. Here is just one example....beginning of the game it's 3rd and 1. We send a man in motion to the strong side, leaving the OLB ( who is playing on the line) left alone on the line. Blount takes the ball about 6 yards deep in the backfield and the OLB crashes in and tackles him for no gain....Blount had NO chance on that. It's the same play that cost us the game in Atlanta last year. We are too Vanillla and predictable. I am still laughing about the scaling back comment from a week or two ago. Still love the Bucs and will still renew my tickets. This is painful.
  • avatar

    there was a positive or two in the game, Clayborne and the punter.
  • avatar

    It's the coaching folks! Wrong Defensive and Offensive play calling. It was just awful coaching. The easiest remedy here is to replace the HC/OC/DC. We bunch our WR's up and they don't block; we don't play the right offensive formation so the RB can't find any holes to run thru, the offensive line was just very plain vanilla; the defense couldn't react fast enough against their receivers and RB's and they made Romo look like he was Arron Rodgers. The cowboy's throttled it back a little in the 2nd half, thus we get 15 points. No team in the NFL is going to win by scoring 8 points a game and no team in the NFL is going to win giving up 31 points. Either all the players are no good or the the coaching is no good. We have history on the players so we know what they have done in the past; we have history on the inexperience with the HC/DC/OC can do and not do. Most of it is not do. Lets try this again, place all injured players on IR and rob some other teams Practice Squad players. Cut Lee, Lewis now as you usually have them as "Inactive" anyway.
  • avatar

    Well, the team just can't pull it together this year. It's really frustrating, and I'm sure it's much tough to be a coach and player on the team in this position. I feel that this team still has a lot of potential and I'll be looking forward to the draft and offseason. Go Bucs, I'll be here for the rest of the games and future years.
  • avatar

    And as I walk out of RJS for the final time this season with the throngs of Cowboy fans, I look for a nice concrete support pillar to smash my head into; I paid over $2000 to watch THIS!?!? Glazers, you best give me a GOOD reason to come back.
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