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November 11, 2012 @ 5:21 pm
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Bucs Score On Defense, Special Teams To Beat Chargers, 34-24

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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The Buccaneers returned a blocked punt for a touchdown and scored on an 83-yard interception return to rally in the second half to beat the San Diego Chargers, 34-24, for the team's third straight win. Rookie cornerback Leonard Johnson picked off his third pass in as many games as Tampa Bay improves to 5-4 on the season.
The red-hot Buccaneers used two fourth quarter interceptions of San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers to win their third-straight game, 34-24, and improve to 5-4 on the season. Rivers, who was 29-of-37 for 337 yards, threw three first half touchdown passes as the Chargers built a 21-17 lead at halftime. But the Bucs defense clamped down in the second half, holding San Diego to just three points.

“Philip Rivers was hot as firecracker the last two games,” Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said. “We did just enough to win today.”

For the third consecutive game, the Bucs scored more than 30 points, but it wasn’t only the offense that got on the scoreboard against the Chargers. Tampa Bay’s defense and special teams provided the Bucs with the go-ahead points necessary for the Bucs’ victory.

Tampa Bay re-captured the lead in the third quarter after linebacker Dekoda Watson blocked a punt by Mike Scifres and linebacker Adam Hayward scooped up the football and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown to put Tampa Bay ahead 24-21. In the fourth quarter, rookie cornerback Leonard Johnson provided the play of the game, intercepting Rivers on third-and-4 from the Tampa Bay 24 and returning the ball 83 yards for a touchdown to increase Tampa Bay’s lead to 31-21. The pick was the third by Johnson in as many weeks and he is tied for the team lead with free safety Ronde Barber.

“We made plays,” Schiano said. “Leonard has the interception return for a touchdown and we had another play to put it on ice.

“Our guys played team football today – that’s what we needed to do. It was critical that we did that today. We played off each other in all three phases.”

Newly added cornerback LaQuan Lewis, who was filling in for the injured Eric Wright, sealed Tampa Bay’s win with his first career interception with just over three minutes remaining. Defensive linemen Michael Bennett and Gerald McCoy were pressuring Rivers on that throw.

Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman was sensational for the fifth straight game, completing 14-of-20 passes for 210 yards with short touchdown passes to Dallas Clark and Tiquan Underwood and no interceptions. In the past five games, Freeman, who had a 54-yard bomb to Mike Williams against San Diego, has thrown 13 touchdowns and only one pick, and has 18 touchdowns and only five interceptions on the season.

Williams finished the day with four catches for 64 yards, followed by former Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who had five receptions for 59 yards.

While rookie sensation Doug Martin was held in check with just 68 yards rushing on 19 carries, he did contributed three catches for 51 yards through the air, including a 42-yard catch-and-run. That gave him 119 yards of total offense for the Buccaneers.

Rookie linebacker Lavonte David led all tacklers with 14 stops, and defensive lineman Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and middle linebacker Mason Foster recorded sacks for Tampa Bay. The Bucs defense played better in the second half as Rivers was held to just 13-of-19 for 119 yards with no touchdowns thanks in part to strongside linebacker Quincy Black, who had six tackles, including two tackles for loss.

On Black’s last stop, a tackle for loss against Ryan Mathews, he suffered a head injury that required him being carted off the field on a backboard for precautionary measures. Black was able to give a thumb’s up to the crowd as he left the field.

“He’s at the hospital,” Schiano said. “We think he’s going to be okay, thank God. The good thing was that Quincy immediately moved his right arm. Really great job by our medical people.”

And a great job by the Buccaneers to get above .500 for the first time this season as Tampa Bay heads to Carolina next Sunday to face the 2-7 Panthers.

First Quarter – Chargers 7, Bucs 0

On third-and-10, wide receiver Denario Alexander got free from free safety Ahmad Black and cornerback Leonard Johnson to score an 80-yard touchdown on San Diego’s first offensive series of the game.

First Quarter – Bucs 7, Chargers 7
The Bucs also went 80 yards for their first touchdown, but it took nine plays and culminated in a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Clark. Doug Martin totaled 13 yards on three carries, but had a 42-yard catch-and-run down to the San Diego 6. Two plays later, Freeman found a wide open Clark to tie the score at 7-7.

First Quarter – Chargers 14, Buccaneers 7
The Chargers responded on their next possession with Phillip Rivers targeting rookie strong safety Mark Barron with a 22-yard pass to Malcolm Floyd and a 33-yard-strike to tight end Antonio Gates down to the 16-yard line. Two plays later, Rivers hit Gates down the middle for a 13-yard touchdown to put the Chargers in front 14-7. The key play on the drive was a defensive holding penalty on free safety Ronde Barber on third down that gave San Diego a first down.

Second Quarter – Chargers 14, Buccaneers 10
On third-and-12 from the Tampa Bay 18, Freeman launched a 54-yard pass to Mike Williams for a first down to the San Diego 28. But the drive stalled on third down as a direct snap to running back D.J. Ware was bobbled. Connor Barth made a 40-yard field goal to cut into San Diego’s lead.

Second Quarter – Buccaneers 17, Chargers 14
Linebacker Dekoda Watson blocked a Mike Scifres punt, which was returned 29 yards for a touchdown to give Tampa Bay a 17-14 lead in the second quarter.

Second Quarter – Chargers 21, Buccaneers 17
For the third time in the first half, the Chargers drove 80 yards for a touchdown. Rivers was 9-of-9 for 69 yards on the drive, which ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Floyd, who caught the slant pass in front of cornerback E.J. Biggers. The touchdown gave the Chargers a 21-17 lead heading into halftime.

Third Quarter – Buccaneers 24, Chargers 21
The Bucs had good starting field position near midfield after San Diego was forced to punt from their own end zone. On fourth-and-1 from the 50, Freeman gained four yards on a quarterback sneak. On the next play, Freeman hit Vincent Jackson with a 31-yard strike down to the San Diego 15. Freeman hit Tiquan Underwood with a 15-yard touchdown on first-and-10 from the 15 to give Tampa Bay a 24-21 lead.

Fourth Quarter – Buccaneers 31, Chargers 21
On third-and-4 from the Tampa Bay 24, Johnson intercepted Rivers and returned the pick 83 yards for a touchdown to increase the team’s lead to 31-12 with just over 13 minutes left in the game.

Fourth Quarter – Buccaneers 31, Chargers 24
Rivers drove the Chargers to a field goal drive in the fourth quarter. On third-and-6 from the Tampa Bay 46, Rivers hit Eddie Royal for a 20-yard pass against Biggers. On third-and-1 from the Tampa Bay 37, Jackie Battle ripped off a 21-yard run down to the Tampa Bay 16. But on third-and-5 from the Tampa Bay 11, Rivers’ pass to Dante Rosario was incomplete and San Diego had to settle for a 34-yard field goal from Nick Novack to cut into Tampa Bay’s lead, 31-24.

Fourth Quarter – Buccaneers 34, Chargers 24
The Bucs added to their lead in the fourth quarter thanks to a 45-yard field goal by Connor Barth. An interception by LaQuan Lewis set up the scoring opportunity as Tampa Bay drove 16 yards in eight plays to get into Barth’s range.

The second quarter punt block by linebacker Dekoda Watson was his first in the NFL. The 29-yard recovery for a touchdown by linebacker Adam Hayward was his first NFL score. … Rookie cornerback Leonard Johnson moved into the team lead for interceptions with three, and is tied with free safety Ronde Barber. Johnson’s 83-yard interception return for a touchdown was his first in the NFL.

Rookie cornerback Leonard Johnson has been a star for the beleaguered Tampa Bay secondary. Over the past three weeks, including the Bucs’ 34-24 win over San Diego, Johnson has recorded three interceptions, but none bigger than his on Sunday. On third-and-4 from the Tampa Bay 24, Johnson picked off Philip Rivers and returned the interception 83 yards for a touchdown to give the Bucs a 31-21 lead in the fourth quarter. Johnson, who finished the game with five tackles, including one for a loss, and a pass breakup, dodged tackle attempts by offensive linemen Jeromey Clary and Louis Vasquez en route to the end zone.

“Leonard has stepped up last three games he has an interception in the last three games,” Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said. “It was a critical play in the football game. Leonard is working his tail off to become a quality corner in this league.”

With his first NFL touchdown, Johnson atoned for a first quarter mistake by failing to tackle Danario Alexander on an 80-yard touchdown. For his efforts, Johnson is this week’s PewterReport.com Bucs MVP.

Bucs' inactives against the Chargers were: WR Arrelious Benn, RB Michael Smith, G Roger Allen, S Cody Grimm, LBs Najee Goode and Jacob Cutrera and CB Danny Gorrer.

Chargers inactives against the Bucs were: WR Seyi Ajirotutu, CB Chris Carr, SS Brandon Taylor, LB Jonas Mouton, OT Jared Gaither, TE Ladarius Green, LB Antwan Barnes.

Cornerback Eric Wright sprained an ankle in the first quarter and did not return. He was replaced by LaQuan Lewis replaced him in the lineup.

Linebacker Quincy Black was having a great game for the Buccaneers with five tackles, including a tackle for loss, before being carted off the field with a head injury with 3:52 left in the third quarter. He was replaced by Adam Hayward in the lineup.

• Sloppy tackling by cornerback Leonard Johnson and free safety Ahmad Black cost Tampa Bay a touchdown when Danario Alexander’s knee didn’t hit the ground and he raced 80 yards for a touchdown that put San Diego up 7-0 in the first quarter.

• A defensive holding call on free safety Ronde Barber on third down gave San Diego a first down on the Chargers’ second touchdown drive.

• Bucs running back Doug Martin only had six carries in the first half.

• Tampa Bay’s defense gave up three 80-yard touchdown drives and three TD passes to Philip Rivers in the first half.
Tampa Bay (5-4) travels to Carolina to face the Panthers (2-7) on Sunday, November 18 at 1:00 p.m. The game will be televised on Fox.


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  • avatar

    The pass rush is missing Claiborne which people forget. Claiborn Bowers McCoy and Bennett can handle the load. Early round selections need to be used on a CB and another CB with Leonard Johnson moving to nickelback next year. Im a little ahead of myself but I don't think the Chiefs will be resigning Glenn Dorsey bc he doesnt fit their 3-4 scheme. I think he could be an under the radar signing this summer that could be excellent in this scheme.
  • avatar

    It's that "next man up mentality"! I'm just not sure how many more injuries to starters we can tolerate? As for the serious injury to QB at LB, I do hope he is Ok. I thank him for his steady play in the middle. I, do believe that A. Hayward will be an adequate replacement. Or maybe we could plug D. Watson in that hole for a look see. It sure is exciting to watch, especially since we can't seem to stop anybody with our passing defense! This is record setting pace that we are allowing yards through the air. Perhaps local boy Johnson can continue to help as he learns the role. Freeman is playing solid turnover free ball right now. I just wonder why he sometimes seems to lock-up on those plays when he sees blanket coverage and hesitates before attempting to rush for the first. It seems to me that he was very agressive in running for the first in his his first couple of years. He seems less so today, perhaps by coach's mandate! I just think that that would be another facet of his game that opposing teams should fear and they don't seem to. I 'm not complaining about his play. He is playing lights out ball right now. It's just an observation. 6 carries for the Muscle Hamster in first half? Not sure why? Good win Bucs! I am proud to see favorable highlights of my team for a change. Feels pretty dam good. The day is just a tad sweeter when the Bucs win. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    This team needs to get a d lineman who can rush the passer either thru the draft or FA and needs to draft DB, DB, DB, with their first three picks. Johnson probably will be okay and after Barber, who will probably retire after this year, you have nothing. Biggers, Lewis and even Wright are worthless. Wright isn't even close to the player that they are paying for, and I hope they have some clause there that they can cut him and not be responsible for his salary. For 5 million a year, there is definitely someone out there better in free agency next year. This defensive backfield is bad and I hate to see what happens when we play Atlanta in a couple of weeks.
  • avatar

    Horse, I didn't think the Chargers would win this game, but still agree with you that we need an early round selection of a DT along with a CB. Roy Miller provides no pass rush.
  • avatar

    Pinkstob, Thanks and I agree with you about our needs.
  • avatar

    I am glad to be wrong on my prediction that the Bucs would lose this game. I am glad I don't bet! I still believe we need an early round selection on a DT. If Johnson keeps this up then we will only have to draft one CB in the early rounds. This is truly Schiano's team and he has built this from far top to bottom. Go Bucs! I do believe now that we will go at least 8-8. So many of us were wrong about Dominik; it was the lack of coaching these past two years.
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