WHAT HAPPENED IN TAMPA BAY’S 30-28 VICTORY OVER NEW ENGLAND?
The Buccaneers starters showed they could go toe-to-toe – and even beat – a Super Bowl-contending team like the Patriots by going up 23-7 when it was starters vs. starters before New England’s backups scored 21 second half points to make Tampa Bay’s 30-28 victory closer than it really was. More importantly, the Bucs bounced back physically after a rough week in the trenches in last week’s 30-7 loss to Tennessee, getting pressure on quarterback Tom Brady and giving Josh Freeman and Dan Orlovsky time to step up in the pocket and throw the all.
Freeman started off hot for Tampa Bay, hitting his first three passes for 49 yards – all of which went to wide receiver Vincent Jackson – to drive the team into the red zone where a 1-yard touchdown run by Doug Martin gave the Bucs a 7-0 lead. Freeman cooled off and finished the game 10-of-19 for 102 yards, but led the Bucs to two field goals. Freeman and the starters played the entire first half and the first series of the third quarter.
Martin, who started in place of LeGarrette Blount, had 53 yards on 13 carries in addition to his touchdown. Fellow rookie Michael Smith impressed with a 39-yard kickoff return and rushed for 38 yards on six carries. Tampa Bay out-gained New England 138-118 yards in the first half, but the Patriots wound up with the advantage in total yardage throughout the whole game, 342-283
Tampa Bay’s first team defense did a great job against Tom Brady and New England’s potent offense, forcing three three-and-outs, a fourth-down stand, two sacks and an interception that was returned 22 yards for a touchdown by rookie safety Mark Barron. Brady finished the game 13-of-20 for 127 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Despite leading 20-7 at the half, the Bucs’ mood was dampened by a left leg injury to right guard Davin Joseph just before halftime. Joseph, who was carted off the field after his injury, was replaced by Ted Larsen, who was only moderately effective.
“It doesn’t look good, but we’ll get an evaluation tomorrow,” Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said. “He is one of our leaders – if not our leader.
“I’m worried about Davin and I’m praying for him tonight.”HOW THE TEAM’S SCORED – BUCS vs. PATRIOTS SCORING SERIES
First Quarter – Bucs 7, Patriots 0
Tampa Bay marched 68 yards in eight plays to score a touchdown on the Bucs’ first possession. Josh Freeman was 3-for-3 for 49 yards with all three passes going to Vincent Jackson, picking up a trio of first downs. The longest gain was a 19-yarder down to the New England 28, followed up by a 14-yard hook-up on third-and-12 down to the Patriots 6-yard line. After a run of five yards, rookie running back Doug Martin muscled in for a 1-yard touchdown.First Quarter – Bucs 14, Patriots 0
The Buccaneers scored in one play to take a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. After a sack by defensive end Michael Bennett set up New England with a third-and-14 from its own 7, safety Ronde Barber jumped up to deflect a pass intended for tight end Rob Gronkowski that was intercepted by rookie safety Mark Barron and returned 22 yards down the right sidelines for a touchdown.Second Quarter – Bucs 14, Patriots 7
New England marched 81 yards in 12 plays to score its first points of the game. A pass interference penalty on Barber, who was covering tight end Aaron Hernandez, gave the Patriots a first down on third down at the Tampa Bay 37. Two plays later, Stephen Ridley ripped off a 29-yard run down the right sidelines to the Tampa Bay 6. Ridley capped the drive off with a 1-yard touchdown run two plays later.Second Quarter – Bucs 17, Patriots 7
After the Bucs defense stopped the Patriots on fourth-and-1 at the New England 41, Tampa Bay drove three yards on four plays before Connor Barth nailed a 56-yard field goal to increase its lead to 17-7.Second Quarter – Bucs 20, Patriots 7
Following a seven-play, 39-yard drive, the Buccaneers added another field goal on the final play of the first half to increase their lead to 20-7. A 19-yard draw by Martin moved the Bucs to midfield. A 12-yard pass to Preston Parker and a 5-yard toss to Martin set up a 51-yard field goal by Kai Forbath to increase the Bucs’ advantage.Third Quarter – Bucs 23, Patriots 7
A 15-yard catch by Sammie Stroughter and an 8-yard run by LeGarrette Blount set up Forbath’s 55-yard field goal to push Tampa Bay’s advantage to 23-7.Third Quarter – Bucs 23, Patriots 14
The Patriots starters stayed in against the Buccaneers back-ups, and Brady drove New England 84 yards on 10 plays and capped off the drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski, who was covered by safety Ahmad Black. Tight end Aaron Hernandez added a 24-yard catch and a 14-yard pass interference penalty on rookie cornerback Leonard Johnson helped moved the chains for New England, who cut the Bucs’ lead to just nine points.Fourth Quarter – Bucs 30, Patriots 14
Bucs backup QB Dan Orlovsky was 5-of-5 for 38 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown pass to Sammie Stroughter to cap an impressive, 11-play 78-yard scoring drive for Tampa Bay. Michael Smith accounted for 23 total yards, while Mossis Madu had a nice, 19-yard dash up the middle on a draw play down to the New England 8-yard line to set up Stroughter’s touchdown on the next play.Fourth Quarter – Bucs 30, Patriots 21
Quarterback Ryan Mallett stepped in and led a nine-play, 76-yard scoring drive. Mallett hit Donte Stallworth for a 12-yard gain and Alex Silvestro for an 11-yard pick up. Rookie running back Jeff Demps ripped off a 29-yard run down to the Tampa Bay 9 on his first NFL carry. Two plays later, Mallett hit Jeremy Ebert with a 3-yard touchdown pass to cut into Tampa Bay’s lead.Fourth Quarter – Bucs 30, Patriots 28
Mallett was at it again for New England, completing a 10-yard pass to Stallworth on fourth-and-1 and an 18-yard strike to Stallworth down to the Tampa Bay 28-yard line on third-and-10. Running back Brandon Bolden picked up 15 yards on two carries down to the Tampa Bay 13. Two plays later, Mallett’s 4-yard strike to Jesse Holley tightened up the score to 30-28 with less than a minute left.WHO WAS THE BUCS’ MVP?
Rookie strong safety Mark Barron continues to impress in the preseason and scored his first NFL touchdown in style by picking off legendary quarterback Tom Brady. Veteran defensive back Ronde Barber tipped a pass intended for tight end Rob Gronkowski and Barron snatched the ball out of the air and raced 22 yards down the right sidelines for a touchdown to give Tampa Bay a 14-0 lead. Barron, who doesn’t look like a rookie, had a couple of hard-hitting tackles on the night and finished with three stops in two quarters’ worth of play for the MVP honors.
“Mark played faster this week and he played more confident in what he was doing,” Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said.BUCS DEFENSE COMES ALIVE
The Buccaneers starting defense did a great job against Tom Brady and New England’s potent offense, forcing three three-and-outs, a fourth-down stand, two sacks and an interception that was returned 22 yards for a touchdown by rookie safety Mark Barron.
The much-maligned defensive line came to life as left end Michael Bennett had a sack and forced a fumble on quarterback Tom Brady, nose tackle Roy Miller had a nice tackle for loss and defensive end George Johnson, who had five tackles and a tackle for loss, had a pass breakup at the line of scrimmage.
Middle linebacker Adam Hayward, who was starting in place of the injured Mason Foster, led the Buccaneers' starters with seven tackles (six solo), and had an 11-yard sack of Brady. Rookie safety Keith Tandy had the most tackles for Tampa Bay with eight (six solo), in addition to a pair of special teams stops. Linebacker Quincy Black also played well with four tackles and a forced fumble.WHICH BUCCANEERS DIDN’T PLAY AND WHO GOT HURT?
The most significant injury was to right guard Davin Joseph, who injured his knee and could be lost for some time – possibly the season. Joseph was injured when left tackle Donald Penn drove defensive end Chandler Jones into the back of Joseph’s left knee. The injury was so severe that he had to be carted off the field.
Starting middle linebacker Mason Foster sat out Friday night’s game with a mild hamstring strain. Adam Hayward replaced him in the starting lineup.
Starting defensive tackle Gerald McCoy hurt his left leg on the third play of Tampa Bay’s first defensive series, but returned on the next series.
Starting right defensive end Adrian Clayborn hurt his left elbow on the play where Michael Bennett sacked Tom Brady, and did not return.
“I think Gerald and Adrian are going to be fine,” Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said.
Rookie Doug Martin got the start in place of LeGarrette Blount at running back. Blount, who injured his groin last week, saw time with the second-string offense.
Reserve safety Larry Asante injured his right shoulder making a big hit in the fourth quarter, but seemed okay afterwards.
Other Bucs that didn’t play include: defensive tackles Amobi Okoye (knee) and Jordan Nix, defensive end Da’Quan Bowers (Achilles), wide receivers Arrelious Benn (knee) and Ed Gant, cornerbacks E.J. Biggers (foot), Anthony Gaitor (hamstring) Marquese Wheaton, running back De’Andre Curtis, tackle Mike Ingersoll, safety Tramain Thomas, linebacker Brian Smith, offensive tackle JaMarcus Hardrick, tight end Collin Franklin, quarterback Brett Ratliff, didn’t play Friday night against the Patriots.WHAT WILL UPSET GREG SCHIANO WHEN HE WATCHES THE FILM?
The fact that Schiano and the Bucs may have lost right guard Davin Joseph, who was carted off the field with a serious leg injury, is certainly upsetting. What was even more troubling was the fact that his replacement, Ted Larsen, drew two false start penalties in the third quarter. If Joseph is out for the season, the Bucs suffered a huge blow in terms of blocking and leadership.
A muffed punt by Preston Parker, who has had a history of fumbling punts, against New England drew the ire of Schiano during the second quarter. This is the second time Parker has bobbled a punt in the preseason – the first of which happened at Miami. Newcomer Jordan Shipley promptly replaced Parker as the team’s punt returner after that. Parker returned two punts for three yards, while Shipley’s lone return went for five yards.
Tampa Bay’s second-team defense gave up two touchdown passes to quarterback Ryan Mallett and 21 second half points.WHAT’S UP NEXT FOR THE BUCS?
Tampa Bay (2-1) travels to Washington (1-1) next Wednesday night, August 29, for the 2012 preseason finale.
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