Pewter Report Intern
What five things can the Buccaneers do on Sunday to leave the Mile-High City with a victory? Find out what Pewter Report thinks in this weekly feature.
Despite losing last week to the Atlanta Falcons, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers remain very much in the thick of things going into week 13. The Bucs will face the red-hot Denver Broncos, quarterbacked by future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.
The Buccaneers have yet to get a signature win, and this week presents the perfect opportunity for them. If the Bucs succeed at these Five Keys To Victory, the Bucs could come home with an upset win. Key 1. Protect Your Treasure
The Denver Broncos defense is the best the Bucs have yet to face all season. They will be facing star linebacker Von Miller and defensive end Elvis Dumervil, both of which are having pro-bowl years. The two studs have combined for 22 sacks and 10 forced fumbles, specializing in the strip-sack.
The Bucs’ offensive line has done a good job of protecting Josh Freeman from elite pass-rushers like Jared Allen and Demarcus Ware. The offensive line needs to step up, regardless of the injuries, and give Freeman time to throw the ball. If the Broncos can simply rush Freeman into throwing errant balls, it will be a long day for the Bucs.Key 2. Pressure Peyton
This is essential. If the Bucs don’t get any pressure on Peyton Manning, he can light the secondary up. If you give an elite quarterback as much time to throw as the Bucs gave Matt Ryan last week, they will be successful against almost any secondary.
The front four has been so hot and cold all year. In their losses against the Giants, Saints, and Falcons, the Bucs got zero pressure on them. Which is really saying something, because they dropped back to pass an average of 40 times per game. Yet in the games against the Cowboys and Redskins, the Bucs D-line combined for seven sacks and three forced fumbles.
The Bucs can’t risk leaving their cornerbacks in one-on-one positions, so blitzing shouldn’t be the answer. If the Buccaneers dial up too many blitzes, they might see another 80-yard touchdown on Sunday. They need players like Michael Bennett, Gerald McCoy, and Da’Quan Bowers to really step it up from their performance last week so their secondary isn’t exposed.Key 3. Run Martin, Run
Doug Martin did a great job against the Falcons in terms of turning negative plays into positive ones. The offensive line missed blocks and didn’t create enough holes for the rookie to make any plays. Martin did what he could, but it simply wasn’t good enough.
The Bucs offense is at its best when they have the run game working because it diverts attention from Freeman and his receivers. That will open up the pass game and allow the Bucs to successfully use play-action.
It will be difficult for him and the offensive line to have a bounce-back game against the leagues ninth-best rushing defense. But if the Bucs offensive line can win the battle in the trenches and give the rookie sensation enough wiggle room, he could break one loose.Key 4. Capitalize
As the Bucs learned last week, you can’t beat elite offenses when you can’t score touchdowns. The Broncos are going to score points. Whether they score touchdowns or field goals is irrelevant. The Bucs must get touchdowns instead of field goals.
Peyton Manning is one of the best come-from-behind players of all time. Just ask the 2003 Bucs, or more recently, the San Diego Chargers who blew a 24-0 halftime lead. If the Bucs manage to drive the ball down the field, they need to capitalize. If they force a turnover, they need to capitalize.
Too many of the Buccaneers losses this year have been because of their inability to score touchdowns. When they couldn’t score after a 95-yard Vincent Jackson catch against the Saints, or when Freeman missed two wide-open receivers against the Falcons. Key 5. Don’t Be A Broken Record
It seems like after every game that the Bucs have lost, people are saying, “we should have won”. For the most part, that’s been true. Tampa Bay is just a few plays away from being 10-1. The only game that the Bucs really got outplayed in was against the Giants in week two, and that was only in the second half. In the team’s other four losses, the Bucs played as well, or even better than the team that beat them.
If the Broncos game comes down to the wire, the Bucs need to find a way to win. Whether it’s being more conditioned (as was the case in the Bucs overtime win against the Panthers) or just finding the will within themselves to finally get that signature win. There’s a good chance that is what this game will come down to, and the Bucs will have the opportunity to show they are for real. If not, fans will find themselves dwelling over what “could have been” instead of celebrating what was.
Haley Cornish: Broncos 27-24
Mark Cook: Buccaneers 28-27
Scott Reynolds: Broncos 37-23– Mark Cook contributed to this report
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