Which players had outstanding games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their come-from-behind victory over the Panthers on Sunday? Who struggled and needs to improve before next week's key divisional matchup with Atlanta. Find out in the weekly Most Impressive and Disappointing postgame feature.
The Buccaneers rallied for 11 points late in Carolina and managed to steal one from the Panthers in overtime, 27-21. The victory was Tampa Bay’s fifth in their last sixth game, and put the Buccaneers squarely in the middle of the NFC playoff race.
Below is a list of players who stood out and a few who will need to improve before the Buccaneers host the division leading Atlanta Falcons next Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.Most ImpressiveWR Vincent Jackson
The free agent signing of Jackson has officially erased the ghosts of Alvin Harper and Bert Emmanuel, two free agents that didn’t pan out in Tampa Bay. Jackson has been worth every penny of his $55.5-million dollar contract; in fact maybe he is underpaid. On Sunday Jackson was brilliant down the stretch carrying the Buccaneers on his back at times. His catch to bring the Buccaneers back just before the end of regulation was as good of a catch you will see from any NFL receiver this year. You can’t understate the difficulty to go up and snag a ball away from three defenders all the while heading straight for the goal post, and getting both feet in bounds. For the game Jackson led the Buccaneers with 94 yards on six receptions including one TD and the game-tying two-point conversion. The Buccaneers may not have half of their six wins without Jackson’s contributions this Sunday, for sure they don’t beat the Panthers without him.RB Doug Martin
On Sunday Martin once again showed why LeGarrette Blount continues to sit on the bench. The former Boise star was a workhorse who seemed to get stronger as the game worse on. Martin was steady through the first three quarters but really shined down the stretch, particularly in overtime, gaining 48 of his 138 rushing yards. For the game Martin rushed 24 times for 138 yards, and added four receptions for 23 yards. Martin has been nothing short of spectacular this season and appears to be a steal as the No. 31 overall pick in last April’s draft.With his 138 yards on Sunday, Martin now has 1,000 yards on the season.
QB Josh Freeman
For 54 minutes on Sunday Freeman was at the top of the most disappointing list. Freeman looked unsure, indecisive and befuddled for a majority of the game Sunday, and almost single-handily was giving the Panthers the win on a silver platter. But as he had done nine times prior in his not quite four-season career, Freeman saved his best for last, and led the Bucs to 11 points in the game’s final six minutes. Freeman had a game filled with mistakes including two interceptions, but when his team needed it, No. 5 delivered in the clutch. For the game Freeman was 25-of-46 for 248 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.DE Michael Bennett
Michael Bennett is driving his price up for next year with performances like Sunday. Bennett notched another QB takedown, his team leading seventh sack of the season, and also added five tackles including two tackles for loss. The scruffy bearded defensive end will get paid well in the offseason, and the Bucs would be wise to pony up the money to keep Bennett harassing quarterbacks while wearing the pewter and red.DE Daniel Te-o’ Nesheim
When the Buccaneers added Te-o’ Nesheim to the active roster last season it was seen as desperation move as injuries had decimated the Bucs defensive line. When training camp began not too many fans would have put money on the former Washington Huskie making the final 53-man roster, much less becoming a starter. The book on Te-o’ Nesheim was a relentless motor that overcame his deficiencies size-wise. Te-o’ Nesheim is that and then some. With seven tackles, including one tackle behind the line of scrimmage, the guy with the name nearly impossible to pronounce correctly, was the second leading tackler for the Bucs on Sunday.TE Dallas Clark
Clark isn’t the same No. 44 that streaked down the seam in Indianapolis for a number of years on the receiving end of Peyton Manning darts. But that’s okay, Clark still can make an impact in the passing game as we saw on Sunday when the former Colt led the Buccaneers with seven receptions for 58 yards and the game winning touchdown in overtime. Clark is a lunch pail kind of player, the perfect for mike Sullivan's offense.Honorable mentions
: LB Lavonte David, TE Nate Byham, DT Gerald McCoy, DT Roy Miller, LB Jacob Cutrera
When a team erases an 11-point deficit in the final six minutes a lot of players who were on the most disappointing list quickly change to being on the most impressive list. it was difficult this week to find more than the below two players to add to the list.Most DisappointingS Mark Barron
Barron’s play has dropped off significantly over the last few weeks for unknown reasons. On Sunday, Barron had his worst game in his short professional career. The trouble started early when the former Bama star was called for pass interference, which gave the Panthers first-and-goal on the Buccaneers one-yard line. Carolina went onto score one play later and took a 14-10 lead. Barron was hesitant in coverage all afternoon something that a safety just can’t be, and was cauht in no man's land several times. Even Barron’s tackling suffered as he was added to the long list of players who have been juked out of their cleats by Cam Newton in the first half on a third down run by the Panthers’ QB.TE Luke Stocker
Stocker dropped a second down Freeman pass on the Bucs first possession in the second half. While it is doubtful Stocker would have gotten the first down, had he made the catch, it certainly would have made the following third down play more manageable. Instead, the Bucs failed to convert and ended up going three-and out.
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