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September 23, 2012 @ 7:17 pm
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PR Analysis: Tampa Bay's Defensive Game Grades vs. Dallas

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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How did Tampa Bay's defense grade out in its performance against Dallas QB Tony Romo and the Cowboys? Did the Bucs secondary receive a passing grade? Get the answers in this Pewter Report analysis story.
Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds offers up his analysis on how Tampa Bay's
defense played against Dallas in the Cowboys' 16-10 victory over the Bucs, and dishes out the game grades for
each defensive unit and the Bucs special teams.


Defensive end Michael Bennett had a terrific game and finished with two sacks, which tied a career high, and a forced fumble to go along with four tackles, including two tackles for loss. Bennett also broke up a pass at the line of scrimmage and was incredibly productive. He is tied for the team lead with three sacks and leads Tampa Bay with two forced fumbles this season.

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had a similar stat line like Bennett: four tackles, two tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble. The third overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft was incredibly productive and had three hits on the quarterback. McCoy is tied with Bennett for the team lead in sacks with three on the season and is emerging as a playmaking force for Tampa Bay this season. His three sacks in 2012 already ties the most McCoy has ever recorded in a season (2010) and there are 13 games left.

After defensive end Adrian Clayborn started the season with just one tackle in the first two games of the season, he had a more productive outing against Dallas before leaving the game in the third quarter with a serious knee injury after McCoy sacked Romo for the second time. Clayborn, who had a knee brace on after the game, could be lost for the season, which would be a huge blow to Tampa Bay’s defensive line if that’s the case. He finished the game with several quarterback pressures and a tackle for loss.

Nose tackle Roy Miller had three tackles, including a tackle and played a big role in limiting running back DeMarco Murray to just 38 yards on 18 carries (2.1 avg.). Miller was active and probably played one of his best games as a Buccaneer.

Reserve defensive tackle Corvey Irvin had one tackle in spot duty and backup nose tackle Gary Gibson recovered a Romo fumble forced by McCoy. Daniel Te’o-Neisham also played a bit in relief of Bennett and Clayborn at defensive end.

The defensive line shut down the run and collectively produced six tackles for loss, including four sacks against the pass. This was a nice bounce-back effort for Tampa Bay’s defensive line after getting shut out in the sack department a week ago in New York.

Middle linebacker Mason Foster was tied for the team’s lead with seven tackles, including two for a loss. Foster made six solo tackles and was very aggressive against the run. He also made a touchdown-saving tackle on special teams on Dez Bryant’s 44-yard punt return. Foster is off to a sensational start to the 2012 season.

Lavonte David made five solo tackles and had a tackle for a loss. The rookie weakside linebacker was a force against the run, holding Dallas to 38 yards rushing on 23 carries (1.7 avg.).

Strongside linebacker Quincy Black did a decent job in pass coverage, but did not record a tackle on defense.

The Cowboys used a lot of three wide receiver formations, which meant more playing time for David and Foster and not as much for Black. The Bucs linebackers collectively had 12 tackles, three tackles for loss and played a big role in shutting down Dallas’ running game. The linebackers might be the most improved unit in Tampa Bay this year.

Free safety Ronde Barber finished with four tackles against Dallas, but didn’t make any splash plays. He overran Murray on his 11-yard touchdown run in the first half and had an average performance.

Rookie strong safety Mark Barron finished with six solo stops and broke up a pass. It wasn’t a dominating effort as he has produced in his first NFL games, but it was a very solid showing.

Cornerback Aqib Talib rebounded from last week’s schooling by Hakeem Nicks to record his first interception of the season in the first quarter against Dallas. That set up Tampa Bay’s first and only touchdown of the game. Talib was solid, but not spectacular against the run as he finished tied with Foster for the team lead with seven tackles in Dallas. Talib also had a pass breakup and a tackle for loss.

Cornerback Eric Wright had five tackles against Dallas and did a decent job in pass coverage, even on a 48-yard reception by Miles Austin in which he was in good position but couldn’t stop a perfect throw by Romo. Wright also recovered a Romo fumble after a sack by Bennett, but his scoop and score was negated by the refs, who blew the whistle too early.

Nickel cornerback Brandon McDonald had three tackles and a tackle for loss

After surrendering 510 yards passing to Eli Manning, 10 catches for 199 yards and a touchdown to Nicks and 11 catches for 179 yards and a score to Victor Cruz last week in New York, Tampa Bay’s secondary played much better against Romo and the Cowboys receivers. Dez Bryant was held to 62 yards on six catches, while Austin produced 107 yards on five catches. Kevin Olgetree also contributed 57 yards on five catches. Not a great showing by the defensive backs, but a vast improvement over a week ago.

Outside of a 28-yard field goal by Connor Barth, which was his 22nd in a row dating back to last year, there wasn’t anything special about Tampa Bay’s special teams. Dekoda Watson missed an easy punt block opportunity and was penalized 15 yards. Cornerback Myron Lewis threw a punch at a Cowboys player and was flagged for a 9-yard personal foul that backed Tampa Bay up to its own 9-yard line.

Jordan Shipley returned three punts for an average of 3.3 yards and muffed a punt, which led to a Dallas field goal. Arrelious Benn had one kickoff return for just 15 yards.

The Bucs allowed Dez Bryant to return a punt 44 yards in the fourth quarter down to the Tampa Bay 6. That set up Dallas’ final field goal of the game.

Punter Michael Koenen averaged 41.4 yards on eight punts with a net of just 31 yards. While he had two punts downed inside the 20, Koenen also had two touchbacks, which was disappointing.

Last modified on Sunday, 30 September 2012 21:42

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  • avatar

    Bennet can play right end just as well as he can play on the left and he has earned the right to be a permanent starter. In four weeks we will have another starting caliber defensive end back who can take over the left side and Bennet can move to the right side and we will be just fine. I don't think Teo Neisheim is a suitable caliber DE to step up in the meantime, however. We need to bring in a veteran DE that is looking for a contract to fill in, or give George his chance to shine. He did get three sacks last year during preseason and is a good speed rusher. The Bucs have back a top ten defensive team that is only going to get better; THANK GOODNESS!!! I pray that Claiborne will have a successful rehab. He always gave his all every play and we will need him back for depth next year at DE. Sciano knows defense and it shows! The reason Foster is now prospering is he does better in an aggressive defense rather than a reading defense and David is calling the defensive plays (how brilliant he can do that as a rookie!) The Future is still bright!!!
  • avatar

    Fingers crossed for Clayborn. Hope it's just a few weeks rather than a season ender....
  • avatar

    I'm not sure why Michael Smith is in the dog house, but I would put him back on PR and KR. His speed alone gets you 20-25 yards. I think Schiano is over-thinking that one.
  • avatar

    Losing Clayborn will suck, but he hasn't exactly been an all-pro. We'll miss his hustle, but there is nowhere to go but up on the stat sheet. Just sayin'...he's been mostly invisible sans a few running plays.
  • avatar

    Why are our punt returners having such difficulties catching the punts? First Parker and now Shipley... So far we would have been much better of just letting them land on the ground and see what happens.
  • avatar

    looks like we will lose Stylz White for the season ooops I mean Adrian Clayborne, McCoy has been outstanding once again and Bennet came to play today the defense did thier job the offense was hard to watch all day
  • avatar

    For the record....Barber did NOT over run Murray on his TD scamper, he had a man on his back which combined with him already already being in stride, effectively pushed him out of being able to put on any brakes to try and make a play. Kudos to Dallas on that play because they effectively set up an edge that Buc defenders were not able to penetrate to slow down the runner.
  • avatar

    This Defense is exactly why I was excited about Schiano coming in. Next year we are looking at a Top 8 Defense easy... Now if we could only get an Offense.
  • avatar

    I agree with the grades. Special teams were terrible today.
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