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December 2, 2012 @ 10:30 pm
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/1 Votes

Manning Too Much To Handle: Most Impressive And Disappointing

Written by Haley
Haley Cornish


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Which players performed well despite losing to the Broncos 31-23? Which players had a poor outing against the AFC West Champions? Find out what Pewter Report thinks in the weekly Most Impressive and Disappointing feature.
Although the Buccaneers got off to a halftime lead of 10-7, the Broncos came back in the third quarter, outscoring the Tampa Bay 21-0. The Bucs were able to make it interesting at the end but ultimately fell short and lost the game 31-23.

Below is a list of players who stood out in today’s game, and a few who will need to improve if the Bucs hope to stay alive in the NFC playoff race.

Most Impressive
LB Lavonte David
David led the team yet again with 10 tackles, including seven solo stops and three for a loss. The Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate only added to his case by getting his first NFL interception off of four-time League MVP Peyton Manning. His interception probably saved a blowout, as the Broncos were already in Buccaneer territory at the time. The rookie stud returned the pick 27 yards to the Tampa Bay 48-yard line. This set up a Connor Barth field goal, bringing the Bucs within 15 points of Denver. David continues to impress and, regardless of his lack of national media attention, should be seriously considered for postseason honors.

CB EJ Biggers
Biggers has been the butt of many jokes in Tampa Bay for the past couple of years but has really been a bright spot on the Bucs defense the last two games. Biggers had five tackles, including four solo stops. But most importantly, he held Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker to just two catches for 17 yards. When Tampa Bay’s defense was strong in the second quarter, it was because of great coverage down the field, and Biggers was the only one to continue with good coverage throughout the entire game. It has to be encouraging to Bucs fans that someone who has struggled for so long is starting to show signs of improvement.

DE Da’Quan Bowers
Although his stat line is nothing special (three tackles, two solo, one tackle for loss), Bowers was disruptive much of the game. Even though he was sharing time with Daniel Teo’Neshiem, Bowers got the most pressure on Manning and was a huge part in the three-and-outs the Broncos had in the first half. He also ended the game with a pass batted down that lead to a Matt Prater missed field goal, keeping the Bucs alive in the game.

K Connor Barth
Barth made 3-3 field goals including ones from 50 and 55 yards out. Barth kept the Tampa Bay somewhat in the game by making tough, clutch field goals in the second half. That allowed the Buccaneers to gt back in the game, preventing a blowout and ultimately bringing them within one score of a tie game. The former North Carolina product is now 20/25 on field goals for the year. 

WR Mike Williams
Williams led the team with six receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. On the Bucs final touchdown drive that brought them within one score, quarterback Josh Freeman found Williams for three straight passes of 14, 28, and then five yards for the touchdown. Williams continues to be a deep threat, adding a 40-yard catch from Freeman early in the game that lead to a Dallas Clark touchdown.

Honorable Mentions: TE Dallas Clark, MLB Mason Foster, WR Vincent Jackson

Most Disappointing
QB Josh Freeman
Freeman went 18 of 39 (46.2% completion rate) with two touchdowns and one interception. Freeman continues to play well for parts of the game and terribly in others. In the third quarter, Freeman was 3 of 11, including a pick-six that pretty much sealed the Tampa Bay's fate. Freeman was under pressure for most of the game, but when he had a clean pocket to stand in he was off-target and failed to see open receivers. The fourth-year quarterback has been able to amend his poor play in games past, but when you’re playing against Peyton Manning you can’t play that badly for half of the game and expect a win.

CB Leonard Johnson
The Clearwater native has been a great story this season for the most part, but the last two weeks have not been his best. Last Sunday Johnson gave up an 80-yard TD reception to Julio Jones and on Sunday against Denver Johnson was beaten by Demaryius Thomas for a touchdown after committing a pass interference penalty just prior to the TD. Johnson finished the game with just two tackles and zero passes defensed. Johnson isn't ready to be a starting corner yet in the NFL, however, the fact is, due to circumstances, he has been forced to get his feet wet sooner than maybe he should. Regardless Johnson would be the first to say Sunday wasn't his best effort.

OT Demar Dotson
Dotson gave up two drive-killing penalties in Sunday’s game, including a holding call and illegal hands to the face. Dotson also gave the Broncos their only sack to Von Miller, who forced a Freeman fumble. Freeman had little time to throw, and this was in large part due to Von Miller consistently getting in the backfield. Dotson has done a great job for most of the season, stepping up and winning the right tackle job from Jeremy Trueblood. Even though he was up against one of the best pass rushers in the league in Miller for most of the game, it’s hard to not have him on the disappointing list.

OT Donald Penn
Freeman was under pressure all game and a lot of that pressure came because Donald Penn was beaten far too often by either Elvis Dumervil or Miller. Even though Penn didn’t give up any sacks, he was consistently being pushed back and allowing pressure on Freeman, which made him throw the ball away or make poor decisions. He also had an illegal hands to the face call the killed a Bucs drive that could have ended in a touchdown instead of a field goal. One of the keys of the game was to protect Freeman, and Penn failed to do that for the majority of the game. 

WR Tiquan Underwood
Underwood had his worst game as a Buccaneer, dropping at least three passes. He ended the game with only one catch on six targets. Underwood has had a history of dropped passes with his former teams, Jacksonville and New England, but has been very sure-handed for Tampa Bay this season. But last week, as fans will surely remember, Underwood had a game-costing drop on a third down. Hopefully this won’t be an issue going forward, and Underwood will get back on track next week against the Eagles.

DE Michael Bennett
Bennett was a non-factor for the second week in a row, ending the game with just three tackles. He didn’t get any penetration for most of the game and also committed two penalties. The Bucs need Bennett to really step it up if they hope to make the playoffs this year. If he continues this poor play, Tampa Bay will look to upgrade this position in the offseason and he will be out of a starting job.

Dishonorable Mentions: Ahmad Black, Adam Hayward, Roy Miller

–Mark Cook contributed to this report
Last modified on Sunday, 02 December 2012 23:55

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  • avatar

    Grim Reaper you must be out of your mind to rag on Lavonte David like that, I think you are WAY off base in your assessment, everything considered, the man has been nothing less than outstanding, for a rookie to play like he has (very similar to D Brooks in his rookie campaign), I'm thinking you just don't like Nebraska, because there is no way you can criticize this young LB with great instincts!
  • avatar

    Sorry but Lavonte David can't be the most impressive when he gave up two TD's in pass defense. For example, EJ Biggers was least impressive in the Oak game after having a career day, because he gave up ONE TD. For a LB who doesn't even cover on every play to give up two TD's is terrible. Lavonte David was the least impressive player IMO. He needs to clean up the mistakes in his pass defense that are costing us games. Lavonte David has given up more TD's through the air than ANY of our "terrible secondary" guys this year.
  • avatar

    It was hard putting anyone on the impressive list because no one really stood out. But when you have a player that leads the team in tackles, got a carreer high three tackles for loss, and his first interception then that's impressive.
  • avatar

    Okay - I'm with macabee on the Schiano thing...I don't think we were even going to beat Denver by kicking field goals; and yes the victory rush thing is passe now...please give it up. Warren - with you on Denver was a better team but not by that much and we could have snuck this one. Bucjoe - hear you on the Bennett to DT thing, but the guy has been invisible for weeks and it's his contract year. On Leonard Johnson - yes the kid has some promise but he's not a #1CB...we all get that...why then does he end up on the most disappointing list...did anyone expect him to shut-down the Denver passing attack by being left 1-on-1....I think he probably played as well as he could, not disappointing but we have to have him playing nickel. And finally, Freeman...the most disappointing...come on...his 1 INT came when Martin completely let the Denver lineman go and crush Freeman in mid throw from the blind side....he wasn't great on teh day, but there were clearly disappointing performances and they mostly came from the O-line!!!!!!!...and the coaches (where again I don't understand the conservative field goal kicking in this game, or as macabee, the run first mentality when we get teh slightest lead - play to the end).
  • avatar

    Denver was clearly the better team Sunday. Denver looks like it may make some noise in the playfoofs. After Denver's first series, I thought it was gonna be pitch & catch for them all day and they would rack up 40 points. Glad to see our defense hang in there enough to make a game of it. Also glad to see Biggers turn in a good job. In the past, he's always been a step behind, but did well Sunday. Just a GENERAL observation: One thing that has been noticeable during this season is that the Bucs don't have speed comparable to other teams at the WR position (incl. Underwood, Jackson, Williams) and ALL of the DB positions...Not that we lost this game because of lack of speed; and it's not that the Bucs need a ton of speed, but speed is nice to have to stretch the field or cover speedy WRs.
  • avatar

    Underwood has been clocked as low as 4.29 in the 40!
  • avatar

    At least PART of the problem with Bennett "not penetrating enough" was that he was playing DT, not DE on obvious passing plays yesterday. I thought this might happen next season if he is re-signed and Clayborn is back. I have been posting it for about 3 or 4 weeks now. I also expect Bowers to be used that way next season when they are confident his achilles and his knee are both in good shape. As to the dline not putting enough pressure on Manning, it never ceases to amaze me at the expectations for the pass rush when the opposing QB is running plays where he is getting the ball off in 2 to 2.5 seconds which is what Manning did on almost every pass play yesterday. There were a few where he took longer but not many. Ryan of the Falcons did the same thing. When a QB does that, you can only sack or pressure him if you are either completely unblocked or your blocker completely whiffs on you. IMO, it also speaks more to the coverage than the pass rush. As to Johnson, IMO the PI call was completely wrong as was the one of Ronde. In addition, the TD pass thrown against Johnson was despite GREAT coverage. His ONLY problem on that one was that it was clear he didn't see the ball and he was in great position to intercept it. This is a rookie who is starting long before he is ready to and is giving quality play despite that, IMO.
  • avatar

    Correct. When QBs release the ball quickly , the the cure is DL have their hands up and CBs jam the receivers. Are CBs are so young or so bad we can't do that. We ahve to play back.
  • avatar

    i dont like to make excuses for a loss but i feel like there were a lot of penalties against the broncos that were never called..i can think of a 2 blatant holds on Moreno runs that were not called and two PI's that were never called when we got two PIs that were pretty iffy. that being said we didnt deserve to win this game anyways...Free played like crap and I STILL DONT UNDERSTAND WHY WE DONT RUN THE HURRY UP OFFENSE UNTIL THE END OF THE GAME!!!! AND I DONT UNDERSTAND WHY DJ WARE GETS PLAYING TIME ON 3RD DOWN OVER DOUGY...seems like Doug would be a way better 3rd down RB, hes proven he can black and catch when Ware just stands around every 3rd down...
  • avatar

    I wouldn't call Bowers impressive since you pay D ends to sack quarterbacks and like the rest of his mates Bowers didn't come close. However I will admit at this point he might be our best D lineman. It's time to start him, and do some more shuffling up front in an effort to find a pass rush.
  • avatar

    I thought we played a decent game considering who we played. I agree with most everyone that we did our best. Leonard Johnson at this point in his short career has been asked to be a starter when really he should be the nickel back, but there is no one else in front of him and he has been put in a tough spot. Anybody knows the status on Lewis? I think he is gone for the rest of the season and now we have to bring in some more CB's and there's not much out there. It appears to me that when we get our injured back for next season we are still short 2 starting CB's and a DT. After that I think we should look for a TE, RB, backup Center and OT. I am not sure that we should spend a lot of money on Free Agency. I would also demand McCoy, Wright, Black to take less next season or cut them. I would give Freeman a new contract as he has earned it. He is an above average starting QB and deserves to be rewarded for it.
  • avatar

    In Free agency we need a starting caliber CB. Draft a CB High), TE, OT, DT, RB . We really miss Adrian C. With him and Bowers, and with Bennent as backup we are good.
  • avatar

    For all the criticism that some players are receiving, I'm ready to lay some blame at the feet of Schiano. He is playing too conservative to win big games. As soon as we got the first half lead, our offense went into a run first, don't take any chances mentality. That is Schiano's doing and this isn't the only game where this has occurred. There are lots of things to praise him for this year, but if we're going to be an offensive-led team (we have no defense that can lead now), you have to play offensively the whole game! And while I'm at it, would somebody upstairs please call down and tell Schiano to shelve the victory charge. We get it, but it looks ineffective and out of place in todays NFL, especially when your butt has been soundly whipped!
  • avatar

    For all the future upside that Leonard Johnson has, today he can’t play man CB which this defense calls for. In order to play bump-and-run, you must be able to bump and jam the WR at the LOS, then release and have the speed to recover as the WR goes downfield. LJ lines up 5 to 10 yards off of his man and takes off downfield for fear of giving up the deep ball. His lack of speed may not allow him to ever be a #1 corner on the outside. Too early to be sure, but QBs are going to single him out every time!
  • avatar

    We have to be realistic about the offense with backups at both guard positions its going to be pretty hard to say we are going to run the ball each week regardless of the opponent. I feel like the Bucs should come out more aggressively in the passing game and then soften the defense up for Doug Martin. When you rush for 200 plus yards in a game you are no longer a secret and defenses are going to gameplan to take you out of the offense. That said the offense looked fine you take away Freeman's pick 6 and its a game at the end. Going into mile high facing Peyton Manning I think the defense did all they could to give us a chance and today we made one too many mistakes. We faced a better team today but we have 4 very winnable games left in the Eagles, Rams, New Orleans and an Atlanta that will have nothing to play for and will probably rest their starters. Use this as a learning and finish up 10-6 like we should. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    I give Leonard Johnson a lot of credit for his efforts. The pass interference calls on he and Ronde were pretty ticky-tack to me especially when a Bronco defender did far worse with no flag thrown. Outside of the 3rd quarter, I thought the defense held up well and was certainly not lit up like many expected. The biggest problem I'm seeing is that for some reason the opponents have figured out how to stop Doug Martin which is having a ripple effect on the passing game.
  • avatar

    I think the Bucs just got beat by the greatest quarterback of all time. No shame in that.
  • avatar

    Yeah we got beat by a team that might go all the way this year. I have always liked Peyton Manning. It has been pointed out that all our losses have been against QB's of the caliber of Manning. Well,we all know why. Pass rush and secondary! Both will need serious attention in the off season.
  • avatar

    This game should not come as a surprise except for flash I guess, Peyton vs our secondary with no pass rush was doomed from the start, I did appreciate how the bucs still had fight in them even after the Bronco's took the tempo and control of this game in the third quarter. They need to stop the bush league rushing the kneel down stuff its tiresome and embarrasing. most impressive Lavonte David, Bowers, Mike Williams most dissapointing McCoy, Dotson, L Johnson, Doug Martin
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