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December 30, 2012 @ 9:55 pm
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PR Analysis: Tampa Bay's Defensive Game Grades Vs. Atlanta

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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What grade did Tampa Bay's secondary get for holding Atlanta QB Matt Ryan under 250 yards passing in the Bucs' 22-17 win in Week 17? What grade did the defensive line deserve for harassing Ryan all day and sacking him once? Find out in this Pewter Report article.
Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds offers up his analysis on how Tampa Bay's defense played at Atlanta against QB Matt Ryan in the Bucs' inspiring 22-17 victory over the Falcons, and dishes out the game grades for each defensive unit and the Bucs special teams.

Tampa Bay’s defensive line only recorded one sack against quarterback Matt Ryan, but pressured him all day. Defensive end Daniel Te’o-Nesheim recorded his fourth sack of the season and fellow defensive end Da’Quan Bowers had his second half sack wiped out due to defensive holding penalty by defensive back Ronde Barber. Te’o-Nesheim finished with three tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss, while Bowers also finished with three stops.

Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy didn’t record a tackle, but had one hit on Ryan and was effective in helping the defense stuff the Falcons running game. The Bucs entered the game as the NFL’s top-ranked run defense, allowing just 80 yards per game, and held Atlanta to only 65 yards on 16 carries (4.1 avg.). Michael Turner picked up 17 of his 18 yards on one of his six carries.

Fellow defensive tackles Roy Miller and Gary Gibson notched two tackles, while defensive end Michael Bennett also recorded two tackles, a quarterback hit and a batted pass on third down to force a punt.

Ryan completed just 28-of-44 passes for 238 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions, and the pressure by the defensive line contributed to holding Ryan well under his season averages.

Middle linebacker Mason Foster led the Buccaneers with 12 tackles, including 11 solo stops. Foster was instrumental in helping to limit Atlanta’s ground game and he might have played his best game of the season since Week 2 at New York.

While he wasn’t Tampa Bay’s leading tackler, rookie weakside linebacker Lavonte David had six tackles (five solo), one tackle for loss, one pass breakup, two quarterbacks hits and one sack, which was his second of the season. David shook off an early first quarter injury to turn in a dominant performance, especially in the first half.

Strongside linebacker Adam Hayward had one tackle and helped hold Atlanta to its lowest point total of the season (17) and just 278 yards. Tampa Bay’s linebackers played well as a unit against Atlanta’s tight ends and running backs.

Rookie strong safety Mark Barron did a great job of covering tight end Tony Gonzalez, holding the Pro Bowler to five catches for 41 yards and had two tackles and a key pass breakup on fourth down late in the fourth quarter to help Tampa Bay win the game. Barron played much better against the pass than he had earlier in the season and ends the season on a high note.

Barber had a costly defensive holding penalty in the second half that negated a sack by Bowers and gave Atlanta a key first down on their second touchdown drive. But he did have four tackles and played well otherwise.

Reserve safety Ahmad Black missed part of the game with a leg injury, but had a tackle and a pass breakup and played well when in the game.

Cornerbacks Leonard Johnson and E.J. Biggers each started and finished with three and five tackles, respectively. Both corners each had a big pass breakup on third down and Biggers nearly came away with two interceptions. The Bucs defense was stout on third down, allowing the Falcons to only convert 3-of-14 third downs (21 percent), and the secondary was a big reason why.

Reserve cornerbacks Danny Gorrer and Anthony Gaitor each had one tackle, but Gaitor surrendered a 7-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal in the fourth quarter as he absent-mindedly left Harry Douglas uncovered. Douglas had for catches for 21 yards, while Roddy White and Julio Jones were held in check. White had five catches for 42 yards with a long of 14 yards, while Jones had just three catches for 56 yards, including a game-long 28 yards.

The Bucs helped out their reeling secondary by playing a lot of Cover 2 zone defense against the Falcons and it worked. Tampa Bay’s defensive backfield also dodged the dubious distinction of becoming the NFL’s worst-ranked pass defense. The Bucs defense had to surrender 251 yards passing for that to happen and held Ryan to just 238 yards, swatting away six of his passes in the process.

Buccaneers kicker Connor Barth was a perfect 3-of-3 on field goals on Sunday, nailing kicks from 22, 42 and 48 yards.

Punter Michael Koenen averaged 50.2 yards on his five punts with a net of 41.8 yards. He dropped two punts inside the 20-yard line and didn’t have any touchbacks.

Tampa Bay’s coverage unit was solid, holding Douglas to just a 10.5-yard average on four punt returns and Jacquizz Rodgers to a 19.7-yard average on three kick returns.

The Bucs return game was just average with Roscoe Parrish having a 23-yard kick return and averaging 11.7 yards on three punt returns.

The big play on special teams came from linebacker Dekoda Watson, who drove Falcons tight end Michael Palmer into the punter to register his second blocked punt of the season. That gave Tampa Bay great field position in the second quarter and led to a field goal as the Bucs built a 13-3 halftime lead.

Last modified on Monday, 31 December 2012 01:11

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  • avatar

    We don't need Lovie. Send Sheridan on his merry way and name Davis Defensive Coordinator! Our DBs have gotten valuable experience this year and with the right scheme called, showed they will be adequate backups next year. We still need a first round DB and a great free agent DB who isn't going to take adderall so he can party with all his bonus money and nobody can tell the next day--like someone we know well who didn't dress out for our big win. I am so happy to finally see our first round safety beginning to figure out the NFL game. It sure gives one hope he will finally pan out next year! We didn't get eight wins this year like we should have, but we proved we can play with the best in our Division and beat them; so I am happy with the seven wins now.
  • avatar

    Surfer, I think you're onto something. There was a dramatic change for the Bucs defense from the 15th game to the 16th game. When Gaitor left his man uncovered (for a TD), it was Schiano that dressed him down. Hopefully, that portends the future for next year: a complete change in def. coordinator and the schemes that are implemented.
  • avatar

    East End Boy, They do. I can live with that but a DT that has several games with no tackles and no sacks is not a Pro Bowler in my opinion.
  • avatar

    Lovie Smith just got fired! Hopefully we've already got private jet headed to Chicago to bring him in for an interview. I know the Bears aren't going to fire Marinelli as DC because he would be even better for the job as DC here than Lovie.
  • avatar

    Scott, it sure looked to me that Schiano was coaching the defense yesterday. He was the one dressing them up,and down on the sidelines, didn't see Sheridan anywhere, what did you see?
  • avatar

    Seat26: I guess the players and coaches in the NFL disagree with you.
  • avatar

    No mark....a very valid question!!! One of the major blunders of Shiano's rookie season as NFL coach. At least 3 games could have been won had we helped our CB's out by playing more cover 2. Certainly Giants, Skins, Philly games could have gone the other way had we played defenses better suited to our personel, IMO.
  • avatar

    The only thing I can think mark30fla is that during the entire off season and Training Camp the defense prepared as if the two CB's would be Aqib and Wright who would certainly be more adept at man to man coverage than our 7th round draft pick coming off an injury and a street free agent. Probably also thought the pass rush would be better with Clayborn coming off the edge. It will be interesting to see how our defense transforms over this off season.
  • avatar

    Why is it that McCoy gets such praise when he doesn't have a single tackle or sack ? I am so tired of hearing how he makes everyone else play better. I know he improved this year but he still is a long way from being a top DT in this league.
  • avatar

    This may seem like a stupid question but how come we weren't playing more of the Tampa 2 when we lost our "shutdown corners" ?? Isn't that how you mask some of the weakness of corners who aren't great at man coverage. Seem to me Sheridan needs to get got. If I can figure this out how come a numb nut like Sheridan can't. The NFL is not kind to coaches that can't adapt and change when their system isn't working.
  • avatar

    Good grades Scott. Anytime you keep a team below 20 points, you should win the game. I thought the team pass defense did good.
  • avatar

    How can a DL hold a team like Atlanta to 238 yards passing and only 65 yards rushing and only get a B?
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