Which Buccaneers players shined in the team's 35-28 loss on Sunday
against the Saints? Who needs to step up their game before the Bucs travel to Minnesota Thursday night? Find out the most impressive and the most disappointing from Sunday's heartbreaking loss.
The Buccaneers lost a hard fought contest on Sunday to the Saints 35-28, dropping their record to 2-4 on the season and falling into third place in the NFC South. PewterReport.com's Mark Cook offers up his list of who played well and who struggled against Drew Brees and the Saints.Most ImpressiveRB Doug Martin
Martin had his most impressive game as a professional on Sunday against the Saints with 85 yards rushing on 16 carries (5.3 avg.) and three receptions for 37 yards. Martin is looking more and more comfortable as an NFL running back and seems to be trusting his ability more and more. On the former Boise State star’s touchdown run, Martin showed both speed and power, juking Saints defenders and also breaking tackles. It was an authoritative run – something that has seem to be missing earlier in the year.QB Josh Freeman
Gerald McCoy said after the game Freeman had a little extra juice when going against a guy like Drew Brees. Whatever it was, Freeman had his best statistical game as a pro throwing for 420 yards and three touchdowns on 24-of-42 passing. And Freeman also was able to avoid that mid-game lull for the most part. Sure he miss-fired on a few balls, but Brees didn’t have a perfect completion percentage either. Freeman appears to be getting more and more comfortable with the Sullivan offense, and in turn, Sullivan appears to be getting more comfortable with Freeman.WR Vincent Jackson
When Vincent Jackson was chased down after a franchise, and career best, 95-yard catch and run, it was easy to initially jump on Jackson for not scoring. But in hindsight, the criticism unfair. Jackson missed some practice time with a calf injury last week and it most certainly in fact made a difference in not scoring. When the final whistle sounded Jackson had amassed a franchise record 216 yards receiving on 14 receptions with one touchdown reception. Unfortunately, many fans will remember Sunday’s performance for the one yard he was unable to achieve. Jackson has been worth every penny of his five-year $55.5 million dollar deal thus far.
TE Dallas Clark
Coming into the game Clark had managed just nine receptions on the season and was basically a non-factor in mike Sullivan's offense. Sunday, Clark was able to get back on track and made his first real impact of the season catching five Freeman tosses for 51 yards including his first touchdown in 2012, something more along the lines of what Buccaneers fans were expecting when the former Colt was signed last spring.Honorable mentions:
LB Lavonte David, S Ronde Barber, TE Luke StockerMost DisappointingRB LeGarrette Blount
Fans and many in the media have been clamoring for Blount to get more touches this season. After last Sunday’s performance in which Blount had a late game touchdown to put the final touches on the 38-10 win over the Chiefs, it appeared Blount was on the road to just that. But on Sunday against the Saints, Martin had the hot hand early and Blount was relegated to his first four game status – a sideline bystander – until the third quarter when he was called upon to spell a shaken up Martin. After Jackson’s 95-yard catch the Buccaneers were in prime position to tie the game at 28 as the Buccaneers had the ball first-and-goal on the Saints one-yard line and Sullivan called Blount's number three straight times with zero success. Blount, in three seasons, has yet to learn how to hit a hole with aggression, instead of dancing and looking for a crease. After reviewing the series several times now, there was no running room, however, at 250-pounds, Blount has to figure a way to make a hole. And where was the leaping over the pile Blount we saw in the preseason against the Dolphins? On the afternoon Blount had five carries for minus -2 yards.CB Eric Wright
Wright wasn’t the only defensive back made to look silly on Sunday. But with Aqib Talib out following a positive substance test, Wright must be the cornerback leader on the field. Wright fell prey to the patented Brees pump fake a few times on Sunday and was beaten deep. Now, what was the responsibility of the safeties on those plays? That is a good question, but it seemed on several long balls it was Wright coming off the turf looking around as if to ask, what just happened? Wright has played well for the most part this season, but is still looking for his first interception since the Giants game, and needs to get his hands on the ball more often. On Sunday Wright tied for the team lead in tackles but had a glaring non-tackle that resulted in a touchdown in the second quarter when both Wright and safety Mark Barron failed to tackle Saints WR Joe Morgan. When a cornerback leads your team in tackles, you know they most likely were victimized by a quarterback, which was certainly the case on Sunday.Buccaneers defensive line
Tampa Bay’s defensive line had maybe their worst game of the season, failing to get any pressure on Brees. Roy Miller and Gerald McCoy were so ineffective for stretches of the game, I literally asked Scott Reynolds if they has been playing on a particular stretch of series midway through the game. Brees is a master of the quick three-step drop and tends to get rid of the ball quickly. When that happens then the linemen at least need to get their hands up and get some deflections. McCoy tipped one pass that led to the Bucs first touchdown after a Ronde Barber interception, but was quiet the rest of the day. Defensive end Michael Bennett, who is leading the team in sacks (4), was shutout in the sack department and failed to register even a knockdown of Brees. Bennett finished with just one tackle on the afternoon. Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan was hammered for continuing to blitz Eli Manning earlier in the season, but against the Saints rarely dialed up any blitzes. K Conner Barth
Barth set a franchise record earlier this season after connecting on 25 straight field goals, but has now missed two of his last three, including what should have been a routine 42-yarder on Sunday against the Saints. Sure the Buccaneers lost by seven, but those three points may have made a difference in how the Buccaneers approached the disastrous third quarter goal line series. I know it is playing the “what if” game, but if Barth connects on the 42-yarder, then adds another chip shot instead of Tampa Bay going for it on fourth down in the third, then the Buccaneers are lining up to win the game in the final minutes with a field goal instead of needing a touchdown to tie.
: S Mark Barron, KR Arrelious Benn, CB Brandon McDonald
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