Which Tampa Bay defensive unit earned a "D" grade against Atlanta? Which part of the Bucs defense earned the highest grade? Find out in this PewterReport.com article.
Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds offers up his analysis on how Tampa Bay's
defense played against Atlanta in the Bucs' 24-23 loss to the Falcons, and dishes out the game grades for each defensive unit and the
Bucs special teams.
After being on a roll for the past month Tampa Bay’s defensive line failed to record a sack against Atlanta’s Matt Ryan. The most active defensive lineman was Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, who had four tackles and two tackles for loss. Te’o-Nesheim has been getting better over the past few weeks and played the best of any of his defensive linemates against Atlanta.
Fellow defensive ends Michael Bennett and Da’Quan Bowers didn’t show up on the stats sheet. Bennett, the Bucs’ leading sacker, had just one tackle, while Bowers didn’t post a tackle. However, he did have a hit on Ryan on the quarterback’s interception.
Defensive tackle Roy Miller and Gary Gibson played well against the run and had two tackles apiece, while fellow defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recovered a fumble, but didn’t record a tackle. McCoy needs to become more of a factor in the stats sheet and make more impact plays down the stretch.GRADE = DLINEBACKERS
Once again weakside linebacker Lavonte David led the Bucs with eight tackles (seven solo), but he did miss a couple of tackles in the run game. Still, the Falcons only rushed for 79 yards on 24 carries (3.3 avg.). However, the two rushing touchdowns were the killer in the end for Tampa Bay.
David had a tackle for loss, as did middle linebacker Mason Foster, who finished the game with six stops. Strongside linebacker Adam Hayward, who started his second game in place of Quincy Black, who was placed on injured reserve after the San Diego game, notched five tackles.
The Bucs linebackers corps didn’t have an overly strong performance against he pass, and missed tackles allowed the Falcons to gain too many yards after contact as Atlanta amassed 434 yards of total offense. Atlanta’s running backs – Jacquizz Rodgers, Michael Turner and Jason Snelling – all combined for eight catches for 76 yards, including a 32-yarder by Rodgers, which is way too many yards to surrender through the air.
GRADE = CDEFENSIVE BACKS
A couple of Tampa Bay’s playmakers on Sunday came from the secondary. Free safety Ronde Barber had eight tackles, which tied David for the team lead. Barber also had a tackle for loss and notched his 47th career interception in the second quarter, which led to a Tampa Bay field goal. The pick was Barber’s fourth of the year, which leads the team.
Cornerback E.J. Biggers had a fairly solid game with six tackles (all solo), a tackle for loss, and a forced fumble on his first career sack. His sack came in the fourth quarter and set up a Tampa Bay field goal. Biggers might have played his best game of the season on Sunday.
The same could not be said of the other members of Tampa Bay’s secondary. While rookie cornerback Leonard Johnson had a career-high seven tackles against Atlanta, he gave up a momentum-changing, 80-yard touchdown catch to Julio Jones in the third quarter. Johnson missed a tackle on that play, in addition to several other missed tackles throughout the game. Jones finished the game with six catches for 147 yards and one touchdown.
LeQuan Lewis surrendered a 29-yard catch-and-run play by Roddy White, who had five catches for 57 yards. Lewis had two tackles while playing in place of injured cornerback Eric Wright, who was inactive with a sore Achilles tendon.
Cornerback Danny Gorrer saw his first action as a Buccaneer and played sparingly, but didn’t show up on the stats sheet.
The play of the team’s other safeties, Mark Barron and Ahmad Black, was average at best. Barron didn’t make any game-changing plays and finished with five tackles. Black had one tackle, but did commit a costly defensive holding penalty in the end zone on Harry Douglas on third-and-goal from the Bucs’ 5-yard line. The result of the penalty was a first down at the Tampa Bay 3 and running back Michael Turner scored on the next play.
As usual, the secondary gave up more plays than it made over the course of the game and allowed Matt Ryan to complete 26-of-32 passes for 353 yards and one touchdown with one interception. The Falcons converted 8-of-13 third downs (62 percent), many of which came via Ryan’s passes.GRADE = C-SPECIAL TEAMS
The Bucs played reasonably well on special teams against the Falcons. While kicker Connor Barth missed a crucial 56-yard field in the fourth quarter that could have provided the team with the necessary points to win, the miss was forgivable due to the distance. Barth connected on his first three field goals from 22, 42 and 48 yards, and now has 20 made field goals this season.
Michael Koenen had two punts that averaged 50 yards with a net of 45 yards. Four of his six kickoffs were touchbacks, while the two that were returned by Jacquizz Rodgers averaged 36.5 yards, including a long of 43.
Donald Franks had a 10-yard punt return for the Falcons, while Roscoe Parrish fair caught his only punt return attempt of the day. LeQuan Lewis returned three kickoffs and averaged 21 yards per return with a long of 24 yards.GRADE = B
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