WHAT HAPPENED IN TAMPA BAY’S 16-10 LOSS TO DALLAS?
For the second straight week, the Buccaneers lost a winnable game – this time in Dallas, 16-10.
The good news is that Tampa Bay is a much more competitive team under Greg Schiano. The bad news is that after starting the season 1-0, the Bucs have lost two straight and are now 1-2.
Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman was horrific, staring down receivers, holding on to the ball too long and not completing enough passes to sustain offensive drives. After Freeman threw an interception on a pass that deflected off the hands of running back D.J. Ware, the Bucs offense had to punt on seven straight possessions until kicker Connor Barth kicked his 22nd straight field goal in the fourth quarter.
“On third down we weren’t very efficient,” Schiano said.
That’s putting it mildly.
Tampa Bay generated only 166 yards of total offense and completed just 3-of-15 third down conversion attempts. Freeman completed 10-of-28 passes for 110 yards with one touchdown, one interception and was sacked twice, fumbling on both of those sacks. It was one of the worst performances of his career and he should have games like this out of his system by now.
Freeman didn’t get help from receivers Vincent Jackson (one catch for 29 yards), Mike Williams (two catches for 33 yards), Arrelious Benn (one catch for eight yards) and tight end Dallas Clark (one catch for zero yards). These players struggled mightily to separate from the Cowboys’ smothering secondary, which played a lot of Cover 2 Man with two safeties deep and man coverage underneath from the cornerbacks and linebackers.
Trailing 16-7 with 2:43 in the fourth quarter, the Bucs inexplicably ran the ball twice with rookie running back Doug Martin, who carried the ball 19 times for just 53 yards (2.8 avg.), rushing for one yard on first down and then losing two yards on third down. The first running play was called by offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, but Freeman admitted that the headset went out and he absent-mindedly called the second time-wasting running play.
“Today was honestly an off day for our offense,” Freeman said.
Schiano agreed and explained that running the ball in the final minutes with the Bucs trailing by nine points ultimately fell on his shoulders.
“Offensively, we struggled today,” Schiano said. “Everybody is part of that struggle – coaching, playing, the quarterback. … A lot of times in games you do things and you wish you had them back. We did. We thought we had a little thing going on there that may be advantageous. It didn’t work out.
“Is it my decision? Is it Mike’s decision? We’re all together in this thing. … I’m ultimately responsible for everything on this football team. The fact that we didn’t get it, I’m ultimately responsible for everything that happens on this football team. Period.”
The replacement officials cost the Buccaneers with several bad calls. It took two successful challenges by Schiano to right the refs’ wrongs. The first of which was a sack and a forced fumble by Gerald McCoy that was initially ruled an incomplete pass. Schiano threw the red challenge flag and an instant replay review corrected the call and gave Tampa Bay possession to end a Dallas drive in the Bucs’ red zone.
The second egregious error by the officials cost Tampa Bay a touchdown as a forced fumble by defensive end Michael Bennett was not called after Bennett sacked Tony Romo in the third quarter. Cornerback Eric Wright came in, scooped up the ball and ran into the end zone for an apparent touchdown, but the officials had already blown the play dead after the sack.
Schiano successfully challenged the play and replay clearly showed Romo fumbled. The Bucs were awarded the ball at the spot of the fumble, but not the points.
The Bucs defense, which may lose defensive end Adrian Clayborn to a knee injury for some time, played much better than it did a week ago when it gave up 604 yards of offense and 41 points to the New York Giants. Tampa Bay sacked Romo four times, forced and recovered two fumbles and picked him off once while holding Dallas to a respectable 297 yards of total offense.
The Bucs shut down DeMarco Murray, who rushed 18 times for 38 yards (2.1 avg.) and one touchdown and frustrated Romo, who completed 25-of-39 passes for 283 yards, with great pressure. But Tampa Bay’s stalwart effort on defense was wasted by a terribly called and executed performance by the offense.
For the second straight week, Tampa Bay was resigned to try to force a fumble on a quarterback kneel down play in the victory formation. The aggressive tactic drew plenty of controversy last week at New York and was used twice unsuccessfully as the game ended in Dallas.
“We need to stop being known for the kneel down play and start being known for winning football games – tight football games,” Schiano said. “That’s what I have to do as the head football coach.HOW DID THE TEAM’S SCORE? – BUCS vs. COWBOYS SCORING SERIES
First Quarter – Bucs 7, Cowboys 0
Tampa Bay’s defense got things going for the offense as CB Aqib Talib picked off Tony Romo on third-and-15 and returned the ball to the Dallas 29. After a pass interference call on rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne, the Bucs moved into the red zone. On fourth-and-1, rookie running back Doug Martin rushed for two yards to pick up the first down at the Dallas 1. On the next play, Josh Freeman used a play-action 1-yard pass to tight end Luke Stocker to give Tampa Bay a 7-0 lead.First Quarter – Bucs 7, Cowboys 7
Dallas benefited from an interception by linebacker Sean Lee on a catchable Freeman pass that deflected off the chest of running back D.J. Ware at the Tampa Bay 23. DeMarco Murray hauled in a 14-yard pass to the 11-yard line and then ripped off an 11-yard touchdown run two plays later. With 1:22 left in the first quarter, the Bucs and Cowboys were tied at 7-7.Second Quarter – Cowboys 10, Bucs 7
Newly signed Jordan Shipley muffed a punt that Dallas recovered in Tampa Bay territory. Linebacker Dekoda Watson roughed the punter to tack on another 15 yards and that set up Dallas at the Bucs 24. The Cowboys struggled to move the ball and had to settle for a 32-yard field goal to give Dallas a 10-7 lead.Fourth Quarter – Cowboys 13, Bucs 7
A 49-yard strike from Romo to Miles Austin set up Dallas at the Tampa Bay 30. After a holding penalty, Romo hit Kevin Olgetree for a 17-yard pass and Dez Bryant with an 11-yard strike to get Dallas into the red zone. But the drive stalled at the Tampa Bay 8 and the Cowboys had to settle for a 26-yard field goal.Fourth Quarter – Cowboys 16, Bucs 7
A 44-yard punt return by Bryant to the Tampa Bay 6 set up another Cowboys field goal, this time from 22 yards out. A holding call pushed Dallas back 10 yards, followed by an 11-yard run by Murray that came up short of the end zone and forced Dallas to settle for three points instead of seven.Fourth Quarter – Cowboys 16, Bucs 10
On fourth-and-11, Freeman hit Vincent Jackson with a 29-yard pass to move the chains. A 12-yard pass to Doug Martin was followed by a 23-yard strike to Mike Williams. But after driving down to the Dallas 10, the Bucs had to settle for a 28-yard field goal from Connor Barth, his 22nd in a row dating back to last year. Trailing by six points, the Bucs tried an onside kick, but it failed.WHAT WAS NOTABLE ABOUT SUNDAY’S GAME FOR THE BUCS?
Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib picked off his first pass of the 2012 season in the first quarter to set up Tampa Bay’s first touchdown. … Jordan Shipley was Tampa Bay’s punt returner and averaged 3.3 yards per return. He also fumbled a punt return that set up a Dallas field goal. … Arrelious Benn caught his first pass of the season, an 8-yard reception in the second half. … Wide receiver Tiquan Underwood had his first catch as a Buccaneer, a 7-yarder in the fourth quarter. … Running back Doug Martin had his longest run of his career, a 17-yarder in the first quarter. … Running back LeGarrette Blount had his first carry in two weeks and ripped off an 11-yarder. He finished with 19 yards on four carries (4.8 avg.). … Defensive end Michael Bennett had his second and third sacks of the season, and forced a fumble that was recovered by cornerback Eric Wright. … Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy also had his second and third sacks of the season, and forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive tackle Gary Gibson.WHO WAS THE PEWTERREPORT.COM BUCS’ MVP?
Buccaneers defensive end Michael Bennett tied a career high with two sacks and forced a fumble against Dallas, and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had the same statistical effort for Tampa Bay, setting a career high for quarterback captures in a game in the process. Both players are recognized as PewterReport.com MVPs this week.
Tampa Bay had a season-high four sacks against Dallas and now Bennett and McCoy are tied for the team lead with three sacks in three games. Bennett leads the team with two forced fumbles.
“I thought we had our best pressure of the season and we need to continue that,” Schiano said of the play of McCoy and Bennett.WHICH BUCCANEERS WERE INACTIVE?
Bucs' inactives against the Cowboys were: WR Chris Owusu, RB Michael Smith, CB E.J. Biggers, CB Anthony Gaitor, S Keith Tandy, OT Jamon Meredith, and DE George Johnson
Cowboys’ inactives against the Bucs were: DT Jay Ratliff, DT Kenyon Coleman, SS Gerald Sensabaugh, C Phil Costa, WR Cole Beasley, S Matt Johnson and LB Alex AlbrightWHICH BUCS GOT HURT?
Defensive end Adrian Clayborn was the most notable injury for the Buccaneers on Sunday. Clayborn hurt his knee in the fourth quarter when teammate Gerald McCoy sacked quarterback Tony Romo. Clayborn had to be helped from the field and then was carted from the sidelines to the locker room.WHAT WILL UPSET GREG SCHIANO WHEN HE WATCHES THE FILM?
Jordan Shipley was signed to replace Preston Parker, who lost his job – and ultimately his roster spot – by fumbling away punt returns. So what did Shipley do in his Buccaneers debut? Muff a punt that was recovered by Dallas, in addition to averaging just 3.3 yards per return. Not a great start to his career in pewter and red.
With Tampa Bay struggling to move the ball on offense, cornerback Myron Lewis didn’t help the cause by getting a stupid 9-yard, half-the-distance personal foul for fighting after a punt. As a result, the Bucs got the ball on their own 9-yard line instead of the 18. Don’t be surprised if Lewis is released this week as Schiano was livid on the sidelines.
Quarterback Josh Freeman held on to the ball too long and was sacked twice by linebacker DeMarcus Ware and fumbled twice. Freeman’s pocket presence was poor, and it looked like he reverted back to some old bad habits of staring down receivers. The fact that Freeman didn’t call a pass play when his headset went out and called a run with just over two minutes left was inexcusable for a veteran quarterback.
The play-calling was bad, especially on offense. Neither offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan nor defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan made any real adjustments. The Bucs kept running the ball on first down with very little success – even into the fourth quarter when the team needed to pass. The run-run-pass strategy often turns into punts by the Buccaneers, especially in the second half this season after opposing defenses make adjustments.
Defensively, when the Cowboys began moving the ball with deep slants and skinny post patterns, Tampa Bay had no answers or adjustments. Romo hit passes for gains of 18, 21, 18, 49, 17 and 17 yards in the second half. The Cowboys found pass plays over the middle that worked and kept hammering the Bucs defense with them in the second half.
Schiano was also unhappy with the Bucs penalties as the team amassed a season-high 10 infractions for 69 yards. Dallas was whistled 13 times for 105 yards.WHAT’S UP NEXT FOR THE BUCS?
Tampa Bay (1-2) travels home to play Washington (1-2) next Sunday at 4:25 p.m. The game will be televised on Fox.
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