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October 21, 2012 @ 6:29 pm
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Bucs' Rally Falls Short In Heartbreaking, 35-28 Loss To Saints

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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The Bucs had a 21-7 lead over the Saints in the second quarter, but trailed 35-21 in the fourth quarter before Tampa Bay's rally fell short in a 35-28 loss to New Orleans. Josh Freeman completed 24-of-42 passes for a career-high 420 yards with three TDs, but his fourth TD on the game's final play was overturned by a penalty.
After leading by 14 points in the second quarter half and then trailing by 14 points in the fourth quarter, Tampa Bay's rally fell short on the game's last play as Mike Williams' 9-yard touchdown catch on a pass from Josh Freeman was overturned as officials determined he was the first receiver to touch the ball after going out of bounds.

"I was very excited that we scored," Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said. "That quickly left my mind when I saw the official with his hat off. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out."

“When Mike caught it he was in bounds, so you don’t see anything up to that,” Freeman said. “Football is a game of inches and that’s the way the game goes sometimes. You never know which play is going to be the play to go your way or not go your way.”

However, the officials might have missed an illegal contact penalty on the Saints cornerback as Williams was pushed out of the back of the end zone, which was clearly beyond the five yards allowed for defensive backs to make contact with receivers. The question is whether Freeman was still in the pocket at the time he was pushed out or if he had scrambled outside of the pocket because there are no illegal contact penalties called in that situation.

That would have been Freeman's fourth touchdown pass and would have tied the score at 35-35 following a successful field goal attempt by Connor Barth, who missed a 42-yard field goal in the third quarter. Freeman completed 24-of-42 passes for a career-high 420 yards with three touchdowns, but it wasn't enough to overcome Drew Brees' production in the 35-28 loss. Brees completed 27-of-37 passes for 377 yards with four touchdowns and one interception and shredded Tampa Bay's porous defense.

"Some coverage mistakes, some pass rush things," Schiano said. "We weren't as precise as we needed to be. Hats off to New Orleans. Our quarterback had tremendous output and production, but missed opportunities [cost us]. Until we get it changed, close but no cigar.

"We did some really good things, but we made the most mistakes on defense than in any other game. My hats are off to New Orleans. They found a way to win."

Bucs wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who struggled with a calf injury during the week, had seven catches for 216 yards and a touchdown, but fell one yard short of scoring a touchdown after his 95-yard reception in the third quarter. That would prove costly as three straight runs by LeGarrette Blount failed to score a TD from the New Orleans 1 and the Bucs got no points from that possession.

“We weren’t able to get in,” Freeman said. “If you look at our goal line performance up to this point, they did something a little different with their front in terms of shifting. We didn’t get it done.”

Jackson caught a pass in the back of the end zone on Tampa Bay’s final third down possession of the game, but he came down with his heels out of bounds, missing a game-tying touchdown by mere inches.

Kicker Connor Barth also missed a 42-yard field goal in the third quarter, which hurts Tampa Bay’s efforts.

The Buccaneers won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. That put Tampa Bay’s defense on the field first against Brees, who threw an interception when his pass was deflected by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and picked off by free safety Ronde Barber, who returned the ball 30 yards to the Saints’ 13. Freeman hit Tiquan Underwood for a 13-yard touchdown on the Bucs’ first offensive possession. Underwood finished with two catches for 35 yards.

Freeman also hit tight end Dallas Clark, who finished with five catches for 51 yards, for a 3-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to pull within one score.

Bucs rookie running back Doug Martin had a strong game with 85 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries (5.3 avg.), in addition to catching three passes for 37 yards.

Brees rebounded from his early interception to complete 20-of-25 passes for 313 yards and throw four touchdowns in the first half. That put New Orleans up 28-21 at halftime.

“Drew is truly an elite offense and he manages his offense to where it can’t be stopped,” Freeman said.

Tight end David Thomas filled in for injured Pro Bowler Jimmy Graham and had two catches for 27 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown. Lance Moore caught nine passes for 121 yards for the Saints, while Marques Colston hauled in seven catches for 73 yards and a score, and Josh Morgan had a 48-yard touchdown catch.

To say that the Bucs missed suspended cover cornerback Aqib Talib on Sunday would be an understatement.

First Quarter – Bucs 7, Saints 0

After Ronde Barber’s 30-yard interception return to the New Orleans 13, Josh Freeman hit Tiquan Underwood on a slant for a 13-yard touchdown to give Tampa Bay a 7-0 lead on the Bucs’ first offensive play.

First Quarter – Bucs 14, Saints 0
The Bucs capped off a 10-play, 76-yard scoring drive with a 36-yard touchdown run by Doug Martin. Freeman almost threw an interception twice on the drive, but managed to run for 13 yards on a scramble. Martin had two carries for 44 yards on the drive.

First Quarter – Bucs 14, Saints 7
New Orleans got on the scoreboard thanks to Drew Brees, who was 5-of-5 for 80 yards on the drive. Brees hit Colston for a gain of 15 yards to start the drive before hitting him for a 17-yard touchdown to cut into Tampa Bay’s lead. The big play on the drive was a 40-yard pass to Devery Henderson that got the Saints into the red zone.

Second Quarter – Bucs 21, Saints 7
Freeman started off the drive with a 16-yard pass to Vincent Jackson and finished it with a 17-yard scoring strike to Jackson to give the Bucs a commanding 21-7 lead. Martin ripped off a 9-yard run and Luke Stocker had a 33-yard catch to put the Bucs in scoring position.

Second Quarter – Bucs 21, Saints 14
Brees found Lance Moore on third-and-10 for a 13-yard gain down to the New Orleans 33. Then he hit Henderson for a gain of 30 yards down to the Tampa Bay 36. Brees then had a 17-yard strike to Colston before finding running back Darren Sproles open for a 9-yard touchdown to trim the Bucs’ lead to 21-14.

Second Quarter – Bucs 21, Saints 21
Brees remained red hot, completing 3-of-3 passes for 77 yards on the next Saints scoring drive. Josh Morgan hauled in a 48-yard touchdown after Eric Wright and Mark Barron missed tackles prior to the end zone.

Second Quarter – Saints 28, Bucs 21
New Orleans drove 72 yards in nine plays to take a 28-21 halftime lead in less than a minute and a half. Brees was 6-of-8 for 75 yards, throwing a 20-yard touchdown to tight end David Thomas with 15 seconds left to give the Saints their first lead of the day.

Fourth Quarter – Saints 35, Bucs 21
The Saints added to their lead in the fourth quarter, marching 95 yards for a touchdown drive that was capped off by a 5-yard run by Pierre Thomas. The big play on the drive was an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Bucs defense during New Orleans’ 51-yard field goal attempt. That cost the Bucs 15 yards and gave the Saints a first down at the Tampa Bay 18. Brees hit Moore for a 35-yard strike to get the Saints into Bucs territory.

Fourth Quarter – Saints 35, Bucs 28
Freeman drove the Bucs 81 yards for another score to pull within a touchdown of the Saints in the fourth quarter. The drive took 6:18 and covered 14 plays, and finished with a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Clark, who also had a 15-yard gain. The Bucs benefited from two illegal contact penalties, including one on third-and-25, and a defensive facemask penalty.

Free safety Ronde Barber picked off quarterback Drew Brees and now leads the team with three INTs on the season. … Barber started the 222nd game of his career, surpassing linebacker Derrick Brooks for the most starts in team history. He has 205 consecutive starts, which is the most among current players. … Running back Doug Martin scored his first NFL touchdown at Raymond James Stadium, and the second of his NFL career on a personal-best 36-yard jaunt in the first quarter. … Tight end Luke Stocker had a career-long 33-yard catch. … The 95-yard hook-up between Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson in the third quarter was the longest play in either player’s career. … Freeman’s 420 yards passing is a career high, as is Jackson’s 216 yards receiving, which also sets a Buccaneers team record for the most receiving yards in a single game, breaking Mark Carrier’s mark of 212 yards at New Orleans on December 6, 1987. … Wide receiver Tiquan Underwood caught his first NFL touchdown pass on Sunday. … Tight end Dallas Clark scored his first touchdown as a Buccaneer on Sunday. … Tampa Bay finished with 513 yards of total offense, which is the second-most in team history (573 at Minnesota on Nov. 16, 1980).

No one will confuse Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman with Saints QB Drew Brees, but for the second straight game, Tampa Bay’s signal caller has thrown for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. Freeman also threw a career-long 95-yard pass to Vincent Jackson down to the New Orleans 1-yard line.

Freeman finished the game completing 24-of-42 passes for 420 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. For his efforts Freeman is named the PewterReport.com Bucs MVP.

Bucs' inactives against the Chiefs were: WR Chris Owusu, RB Michael Smith, C/G Cody Wallace, S Keith Tandy, TE Danny Noble, LB Jacob Cutrera and LB Najee Goode.

Saints’ inactives against the Bucs were: TE Jimmy Graham, RB Chris Ivory, CB Elbert Mack, LB David Hawthorne, DT Tyrunn Walker, OT Bryce Harris and DE Turk McBride.

Jeremy Zuttah injured his right knee with 13:05 left in the fourth quarter after getting rolled up on by Doug Martin. He was briefly replaced by Ted Larsen, but returned to the game on the next series.

• The Buccaneers decided to rush three defensive linemen at times on third-and-long passing situations against Drew Brees and he made them pay for it over and over again.

• Poor adjustments by defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan for not bringing enough pressure on Brees on obvious passing downs.

• After making 25 straight field goals, Connor Barth is 1-of-3, including a big 42-yard miss in the third quarter against New Orleans.

• Wide receiver Vincent Jackson not scoring after a 95-yard catch-and-run and getting tackled at the New Orleans 1-yard line. That was the deciding play of the game as Tampa Bay failed to score a touchdown on four tries, trailing 28-21.

• Josh Freeman not decisively running for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal at the New Orleans 1 and getting tackled for a loss by defensive end Cameron Jordan.

• A 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Bucs defense with 14:54 took the Saints from trying a 51-yard field goal to giving New Orleans a first down. The Saints went on to score a touchdown to go up by 14 points.

• E.J. Biggers dropped an interception near midfield with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter on third down.

• Two illegal hands to the face penalties on right tackle Demar Dotson that cost the Buccaneers a total of 20 yards.

• A delay of game by Freeman cost Tampa Bay five yards and set up a third-and-25 situation in the fourth quarter.

Tampa Bay (2-4) travels to Minnesota to play the Vikings (5-2) on Thursday, October 26 at 8:20 p.m. The game will be televised on NFL Network.
Last modified on Sunday, 21 October 2012 18:44

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  • avatar

    @EastEndBoy, RE Belichick, don't you know that he was run out of Cleveland after four years where he compiled a 36–44 record?! RE Coughlin, don't you know when he was coach of Jax his record for his last three years was only 19–29, and after a 6–10 finish in 2002, Coughlin was fired?! I'm not saying Schiano is as good as either, but good grief, give the guy a chance. This team is MUCH BETTER than last year...and IMO will continue to get better under Schiano in the future.
  • avatar

    That doesn't sound like the attitude Coughlin or Belichik has - it isn't good enough to be good most of the time, coaches need to be good all the time....especially in critical situations like when the opponents have been stopped and are about to try a 51 yard field goal, or in setting the strategy for an entire half when you're leading the game, or in understanding that with 1:42 remaining the opponents only need a field goal to win. Look, I was being purposely controversial to call for their firing - clearly that can't happen right now - but someone definitely needs to tell the coaches that they don't get the same leeway to learn and grow that the players do....they are supposed to know how to do this job by this point in their careers!
  • avatar

    To say that our coaches are costing us wins is rather short sighted, to say the least. It is always easy to go back to any loss and point to a few calls that didn't go as planned. What about the hundreds of other calls / strategies they make that turn out great and put us in a position to win? The Bucs win & lose as a team, and this team is playing much better than last year. I see real progress in many areas with a team that is still very young and needs more talent & depth.
  • avatar

    Pushing a receiver out of bounds is a very bad rule, not because the Bucs lost a game , but because it is a very bad rule, period.
  • avatar

    Scubog - you make my point for me...the players are playing great, they are stepping up and growing with each game - the coaches are not! The players are in their 20's, the coaches are in their 40's - the coaches should not be making mistake after mistake that cost us 3 games, if it was the players I would ave much more sympathy. If the coaches are not accountable when they make such huge mistakes 3 times, when are coaches accountable? Do we need to lose 10 games in a row first or have 3 losing seasons first. It's clear that the coaches here need to step up the way that the players are - no more high school trickery plays, no more " but this worked in college" strategies. I think the fans are being way to accommodating of losing - this team is good enough to make the playoffs this year - we should be 5-1 right now. Stop settling for second best performances especially from 40 year old coaches who should know better by now - I hope the Glazers are letting Schiano know that costly coaching errors game after game are unacceptable
  • avatar

    Ridiculous suggestion EastEndBoy.. None of us know if Schiano will be a successful NFL head coach. But after six games, this team is a lot better than all of last season. With the collection of cast-off defensive lineman and GMC, it's no wonder the defense can't get any pressure on a QB. I guess if some people can't blame the QB, the only other option is to blame the coach.
  • avatar

    Very Exciting game, Jackson and Martin really shined. Defense seemed to lose a step against the Saints but that is understandable considering Brees hits every player right on the numbers. Freeman played very well and just for a minute I thought he was going to pull it out. That run on 4th down was pathetic.
  • avatar

    Can I be the first to call for a new coach …it’s one thing to have to wait out player maturity, but waiting for coaching maturity shouldn’t be a requirement for fans. These coaches have cost the Bucs 3 wins this year (that’s right we should be 5-1 right now) – 1) trying to run out a quarter and a half against the Giants instead of just continuing to abuse their DBs; 2) playing deep prevent defence against the Skins with 1:42 remaining leaving the middle of the field wide open when all the Skins could do was run and pass over the middle all game long; 3) today running LGB in short yardage three plays in a row when any Buc fan could tell you the one thing LGB can absolutely not do is run short yardage + I guarantee it was another one of these stupid coaching ploys to have Foster calling out confusing words on the 51 yard field goal attempt that cost us a 15 yard penalty. Why can’t we just get a decent coaching staff in Tampa…..
  • avatar

    Sure EastEndBoy, you can absolutely be the first to call for the HC's head. And you know what, just to make you reeeaaally special, you can be the last. Going into this year, no one expected to make the playoffs. There are still major talent holes on this roster. The fact that we have not been out of any game, except for maybe the Dallas game (even though the final score didn't reflect it, that game wasn't close), is a drastic improvement over last year. This coaching staff, particularly Schiano, has brought a new culture of accountability and discipline both on and off the field to this team. There is only so much coaching can do to produce wins. Have there been mistakes? Yes, of course. No player or coach in the entire NFL is perfect on any Sunday. But this team, the ENTIRE team, is making very large, positive steps right now. JFree looks a lot like that guy who was playing QB for us two seasons ago rather than like the confused dude under center last year. The defense, which features a pretty rough secondary and a streaky defensive line, has been stopping the run and forcing turnovers. We are truly 3 plays from being 5-1 instead of 2-4, and a significant portion of the credit for that fact has to be given to the coaching staff. Additionally, this past draft is the first one in forever in which I think it's safe to say that we've hit pretty big on 3 picks, and you'd better believe Schiano and the rest of this staff were a significant part of that. I know it's tough to be patient as a fan, but Rome wasn't built in a day. We're growing as a team. The players and the staff are GROWING. It's not easy, but try patiiieeence. We're on the up-and-up, and I think it's pretty obvious.
  • avatar

    I can not say anything bad about this team as the players are still learning and are competitive. There were mistakes made today by the coaches, but they are also on a learning curve. I think our priority is still the defensive line in the draft. We don't have enough quality players there yet. Go Bucs! Take the Vikings down.
  • avatar

    I agree that the d-line is an area of need, but not as much as is the cornerback position. No matter what happens with Talib after this season, neither he nor Wright is a true #1 CB. They both guess far too much and get beat often (see EWright getting beaten on 2 double moves yesterday). I don't like our chances with any CB on our roster against the other team's best guy, and this upcoming draft is a strong one for the CB position. I like the way Biggers has played this season, but in reality he's not even a strong #2. We have several areas of need, but barring a major turnaround from the secondary, which seems unlikely, I have trouble picturing us not using 2 picks on the unit within the first 2 days of this year's draft.
  • avatar

    Yeah. Can't help but feel a little angry over the obvious handful of mental mistakes, from the players and coaches, but... It's more than obvious that we are light years beyond where we are last year. And especially given that we are better through only 6 games as a completely new unit.. I feel honest optimism that next year Shiano doesn't make that special teams "trick" call fake, Sully knows how to call a 1st and goal in under 4 plays, and V-Jack finds that slight extra gear to get it in. .I hate to lose, especially againt the Saints, but.. I see some things in our offensive game and our young defense that I haven't seen in a while..
  • avatar

    Agree completely with most of this. I'm still ok with the way the goalline situation was handled, although I may be in the minority on that. Anytime a team gets the ball on the 1, I always say things like, "If it were me, I'd make the other team stop me on 4 straight runs. Shove it down their throats." Well, that's what we did. It didn't work, but I choose to judge decisions on the ideas rather than results. Just because it didn't work doesn't mean it was wrong. The O line failed to execute on every one of those, and that's not on the coaches.
  • avatar

    There are 5 reasons that might have cost us this game: 1) The defense never got pressure on Brees, no pass rush. 2) Schiano callled a high school play to get the Saints to jump. 3) V-Jax not finding another gear to get to the end zone. 4) The play calls down on the 1yd line after Jackson’s run. 5) Letting Blount and Benn remain on this roster. Pick the one that suits your fancy or all of the above!
  • avatar

    Letting Blount remain on this roster? That's rich...DM is the better back, but to suggest that Blount isn't a quality RB is farcical. He's a dangerous man with the ball in his hands, and he has improved in pass protection and pass catching, although these are clearly not strengths. Anyone remember when Cadillac was a one trick pony? Players learn over time, and Blount has plenty of talent and work ethic. He belongs on this team.
  • avatar

    On the last play, I thought there should have been illegal contact by NO defender...pushing Williams out of bounds...but NFL Network referenced the NFL rulebook which states - once the QB moves out of the tackle box, it cannot be illegal contact...1st I ever heard of that after years of watching football!
  • avatar

    You can never feel good about losing a game, but I walked away from this one feeling pretty good about the future. The defense can be fixed, if not this year then next. But I was genuinely impressed with Josh Freeman's play. His poise and command of the game were impressive. This is the 2nd week in a row he has had a good game and you can see the on-field progress. Lots of work to be done , but everyone ought to be pleased if he keeps this level of play up.
  • avatar

    The pass rush and coaching killed this game. What a shame...we're just not a very good team yet.
  • avatar

    It's tough to win in the NFL. As nearly always the case, 3 or 4 plays make the difference between winning & losing. IMO, those 3 or 4 plays in this game are the responsibility of our rookie head coach. I like Schiano, but seriously, 4 runs from the 2 with absolutely no threat of a pass won't get it done (unless the OL can push the DL into the end zone); repeated 3-man rush won't get it done against Brees (finally corrected late 2nd half); a goofy defensive play call on a punt (resulting in 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty) may work in college but not NFL. Hopefully the coach will learn from these errors & I think he will. Still an 8 - 8 season is within grasp.
  • avatar

    Really? So all other things remaining equal, if you had to choose a side to take in a battle between our offense and the Saints defense to get one yard on 4 straight rushing plays, you're taking the Saints? Cuz anyone other than an over-emotional fan who is reacting to those emotions would say that that matchup favors the Bucs 9 times outta 10. You can't judge a decision by the result. The decision was fine; the execution was very poor.
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