How did Tampa Bay's secondary fare against St. Louis? What grade did the Buccaneers defensive line get against the Rams? Find out in Pewter Report's defensive game grades.
Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds offers up his analysis on how Tampa Bay's defense played against St. Louis in the Bucs' 28-13 loss to the Rams, and dishes out the game grades for each defensive unit and the Bucs special teams.
Tampa Bay’s defensive line got very little pressure on quarterback Sam Bradford on Sunday. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy got two of the Bucs’ five quarterback hits, but no Tampa Bay defender recorded a sack against one of the more immobile passers in the NFL, which was disappointing.
McCoy finished the game with no tackles, while fellow defensive tackles Roy Miller and Gary Gibson combined for three stops.
Defensive end Michael Bennett did not have a good game and finished with three tackles, including a tackle for loss. Da’Quan Bowers and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim tag-teamed at right defensive end and combined for just two tackles.
The defensive line wasn’t particularly effective in stopping the run as the Rams ran for 89 yards on 27 carries (3.3 avg.) and also struggled to get any pressure on Bradford. It was not a winning effort by Tampa Bay’s defensive line.GRADE = DLINEBACKERS
As usual, rookie linebacker Lavonte David was quite active on Sunday, recording a team-leading nine tackles for Tampa Bay – all of which were solo stops. David now has 133 tackles on the year, which is the second-most in team history for rookies behind Hugh Douglas (151 in 1981). David surpassed Mason Foster’s total of 126 tackles as a rookie in 2011.
David notched one of the Bucs’ five tackles for losses and leads the team with 19 on the season.
Middle linebacker Mason Foster finished the game with four tackles, including a tackle for a loss. Rams running back Steven Jackson rushed for 81 yards on 19 carries with a lot of that yardage coming right up the middle.
Strongside linebacker Adam Hayward had two tackles and broke up a pass. He had a huge hit on Jackson on St. Louis’ first offensive series of the game, but didn’t make many impactful plays after that.
There was a busted coverage on tight end Lance Kendricks’ 80-yard touchdown catch to start the third quarter, and although Bucs head coach Greg Schiano didn’t want to reveal the guilty party, Tampa Bay typically has its linebackers cover tight ends. Without the ability to go back and watch the game film yet, it’s a safe bet that a linebacker had an assignment error in pas coverage on the huge play-action pass that gave St. Louis a 21-6 lead in the third quarter.
While the Bucs linebackers combined for 15 tackles, including two tackles for a loss and a pass breakup, the linebacking corps didn’t make any splash plays. And the linebackers didn’t do enough in keeping Jackson from having a couple of breakout runs.GRADE = CDEFENSIVE BACKS
Tampa Bay’s secondary actually played rather well against Bradford, who completed only 13-of-27 passes for 196 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Bradford’s lone pick came courtesy of cornerback Danny Gorrer, who got his first career interception on Sunday. Gorrer played well and finished with two tackles and a pass defensed.
Cornerback E.J. Biggers, who finished with one tackle, injured a hamstring in the first quarter and missed most of the game. Anthony Gaitor replaced him, and although he didn’t record any tackles he did break up two passes, which led the Buccaneers.
Cornerback Leonard Johnson forced a fumble with a big hit on wide receiver Danny Amendola and recovered it, only to lose the ball when he fumbled on the way to the end zone. Johnson played reasonably well against the Rams.
Strong safety Mark Barron had another strong game against the run, notching eight tackles, including a tackle for loss. Barron needs work in pass coverage as he did allow a couple of completions in his vicinity.
Free safety Ronde Barber had a very quiet game with just three tackles and one pass breakup. Backup free safety Ahmad Black gave up a 5-yard touchdown pass to Austin Pettis and finished with one tackle.
Unlike in previous weeks, Tampa Bay’s secondary wasn’t lit up like a Christmas tree on Sunday. Bradford didn’t complete 50 percent of his passes and the Bucs were able to break up seven passes and pick off another. It wasn’t a great game by the secondary by NFL standards, but given how bad Tampa Bay’s defensive backfield has been this year due to talent issues, suspensions and injuries, it was actually pretty good by the Buccaneers’ standards.GRADE = BSPECIAL TEAMS
Tampa Bay’s return game was terrible as Roscoe Parrish struggled in the punt return game. He inexplicably didn’t field one punt from the Rams end zone, which traveled 57 yards, and he only returned three punts for seven yards and fair caught two others.
All five of the Rams’ kickoffs were touchbacks, while the Bucs’ had two touchbacks on kickoffs. Tampa Bay’s coverage units were solid on Sunday.
Michael Koenen punted once for 25 yards and the ball was downed inside the 20.
Kicker Connor Barth made both of his field goal attempts against St. Louis from 29 and 49 yards and has 113 points this season. That’s the fifth-most points in a single season in Tampa Bay history. Barth is six points away from moving past Matt Bryant (118 in 2007) and into fourth place. Tampa Bay’s kicker has made 25-of-30 field goals this year (83.3 percent).GRADE = B
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