WHAT HAPPENED IN TAMPA BAY’S 16-14 LOSS VS. NEW ORLEANS
Seven days ago, the Buccaneers defense surrendered a late, game-winning field goal to the Jets in an 18-16 upset loss in New York in the 2013 season opener. On Sunday in the 2013 home debut, Tampa Bay lost in similar fashion to New Orleans as a 27-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley as time expired gave the Saints a 16-14 victory at Raymond James Stadium.
With the exception of the final minute in both defeats the Buccaneers revamped defense played well enough to win. Tampa Bay sacked Drew Brees four times and picking him off twice, with middle linebacker Mason Foster scoring on an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown to give the Bucs a 14-13 lead with 12:40 left in regulation.
“That was a great play,” Bucs center Jeremy Zuttah said. “Mason is all over the field and he made that kind of play. We were struggling [on offense] and [the defense] kept bailing us out.”
But after Tampa Bay’s offense, which struggled mightily against New Orleans, got in field goal range with 1:10 remaining in the game, Rian Lindell’s 47-yard field goal was wide left. That gave Brees the ball at the New Orleans 37-yard line with 1:06 left on the clock.
“The only decision is if you go for it on fourth-and-3 or do you kick the field goal?” Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said. “I have confidence in Rian and I will have confidence in Rian moving forward.”
Lindell was clearly disappointed with his missed field goal after the game.
“Guys battled,” Lindell said. “I didn’t do my part. You want to contribute … I guess I didn’t.”
Brees completed 26-of-46 passes for 322 yards with one touchdown and two picks, and quickly drove the Saints downfield for Hartley’s game-winner. He hit tight end Jimmy Graham, who had 10 catches for 179 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown, for a 15-yard gain to start the drive. An 8-yard pass to running back Darren Sproles set up a 31-yard pass to Marques Colston down to the Tampa Bay 9 with six seconds left in the game to set up Hartley’s victorious field goal.
“The defense played great today,” Zuttah said. “We didn’t put them in great situations and they kept bailing us out. We had the chance to end the game again and we couldn’t get it done. That’s completely on us. The defense played a hell of a game against the best quarterback in the league.
“We’re six yards in this game and two yards away [last week] from ending the games and being 2-0. It’s discouraging because we haven’t done it, but it’s right there for us to take and we have to get it done.”
Dating back to the preseason, quarterback Josh Freeman has failed to complete at least 50 percent of his passes all year, and that was true again versus the Saints as he connected on just 9-of-22 of his throws for 125 yards with one touchdown and one interception. After ranking ninth last year in total offense and averaging 24 points per game in 2012, the Bucs offense has averaged just 12 points per game and failed to generate 300 yards of total offense for the second straight week in 2013.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Zuttah said. “The defense has basically handed us all of our points so far. We let them down. We have to hold up our end and get this corrected. They are playing great football right now.”
Both Schiano and Freeman said that a pre-game report by CBS’s NFL insider Jason LaCanfora about the quarterback likely seeking a trade before the trade deadline next month was news to them. When asked if Freeman would remain the team’s starter for next week’s game at New England, Schiano said he would.
“Yeah, I see no reason why he shouldn't be,” Schiano said. “I mean I have to evaluate the tape. This is kind of out of left field a little bit. I'm not even thinking about that.
“I’m going to have to look at the tape to see what's going on. It’s just not the quarterback. It's squarely on me. I’m the head football coach and when we’re not doing things offensively that we’re capable of doing – mostly in the pass game. I thought we ran the ball very well today. Doug [Martin] and the line, I thought it was a good effort that way. We have to look at what we're doing coaching-wise, what we’re doing execution-wise, and again it falls on me. Doesn’t fall on anybody else. It’s my job to make sure we get it prepared and executed on game day and certainly we didn’t do that today.”
The only bright spot for Tampa Bay’s offense was the play of Martin. A week after Martin ran for just 2.7 yards per carry in New York while rushing for 65 yards, the Bucs’ Pro Bowl running back erupted for 144 yards on 29 carries (5.0 avg.) against New Orleans, including a season-long 28-yarder.
“Doug is a great back,” Zuttah said. “If you give him a little bit of daylight and he’ll find it and burst through it. You just have to keep doing a better job of getting him clean to the second level and he’ll make guys miss and get the extra yards. We didn’t close it out the way we should have.
“We have to sustain drives. There are plays that we make and then there are stupid penalties.”
After amassing 13 penalties for 102 yards last week in Tampa Bay’s 18-17 loss at New York, the Bucs racked up 10 penalties for 118 yards, including three costly personal fouls on defense. After a helmet-to-helmet hit against the Jets that cost Dashon Goldson $30,000 last week, the Bucs free safety drew another similar foul. Free safety Ahmad Black also had a personal foul against Graham, who was a defenseless receiver on a deep pass in the first half.
But perhaps the biggest foul occurred on defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who was flagged for hitting Brees’ helmet on a play in the first half in which he had a sack and a forced fumble. The fumble was negated and the Saints were awarded a first down and 15 yards.
“We just need to keep working on the strike zone and make sure we’re hitting where it's legal,” Schiano said. “You don't get to practice that because you don’t hit live during the week, so you just have to emphasize it. We’ll continue to emphasize it. But our guys are playing very hard. I’ve been through stretches like this and it kind of balances out usually. So hopefully that’ll occur.”
For the second straight week, Tampa Bay’s linebacking corps made huge plays for the defense. Last week against the Jets, Foster had two sacks and a forced fumble, weakside linebacker Lavonte David had a sack and an interception, while strongside linebackers Dekoda Watson (sack) and Jonathan Casillas (forced fumble) also made big plays.
Against New Orleans, Foster made a goal line stop on running back Mark Ingram on fourth down just before halftime to create a turnover on downs, in addition to giving the Bucs a 14-13 lead in the fourth quarter with an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown. David had 1.5 sacks and Watson recorded an interception.
The Saints nearly took a 17-7 lead just before halftime after an apparent 30-yard touchdown pass to Graham, but instant replay overturned the call and showed that the tight end was down at the Tampa Bay 1. That proved to be crucial as the Bucs defense forced a 20-yard Saints field goal attempt from the Tampa Bay 2, which was good.
However, the Saints decided to take the points off the scoreboard and accept an offside penalty on cornerback Leonard Johnson. Brees and the offense returned to the field on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, but Foster stuffed Ingram for no gain and the Bucs defense held the Saints without points just before the half ended.
The Buccaneers blew a chance to take a 14-13 lead with 6:58 left in the third quarter as a 65-yard touchdown catch by Vincent Jackson, who caught five passes for 77 yards, was negated due to an illegal formation penalty. Two plays later, Freeman would throw an interception to free safety Malcolm Jenkins that was returned 31 yards to the Tampa Bay 39.
With two close losses, the Buccaneers are now 0-2 as the team prepares to travel to New England to play the 2-0 Patriots. History shows that just 12 percent of the NFL teams that start the season 0-2 reach the playoffs.HOW DID THE TEAMS SCORE? – BUCS vs. SAINTS SCORING SERIES
First Quarter – Saints 3, Buccaneers 0
On third-and-5 from the New Orleans 40, Drew Brees hit tight end Jimmy Graham for a 21-yard gain to the Tampa Bay 39. On third-and-3 from the Tampa Bay 32, Brees hit Marques Colston with a 13-yard gain to get a first down inside the red zone. But on second-and-10 from the Bucs’ 19, Gerald McCoy sacked Brees for a 7-yard loss. Brees was 3-of-6 for 49 yards on the Saints’ opening possession, but the Saints had to settle for a field goal. Garrett Hartley’s 44-yard kick was good and New Orleans was out in front 3-0.First Quarter – Buccaneers 7, Saints 3
After a rain delay that lasted an hour and nine minutes, Josh Freeman gave the Bucs a 7-3 lead with a 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kevin Ogletree. The Bucs drive was set up by an interception by Tampa Bay linebacker Dekoda Watson at the New Orleans 35. Freeman was 3-of-5 for 18 yards on the Bucs’ opening drive, and had a key 13-yard run to get the Bucs into the red zone. Doug Martin carried five times for 20 yards, including a 12-yard run.Second Quarter – Saints 10, Buccaneers 7
Brees threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jimmy Graham, who was wide open with middle linebacker Mason Foster and Watson trailing in coverage. That score gave the Saints the lead again, 10-7.Third Quarter – Saints 13, Buccaneers 7
The Saints took over at the Tampa Bay 40-yard line after Cameron Jordan sacked Josh Freeman and forced a fumble that was recovered by Junior Galette. On third-and-10, Lance Moore gained 15 yards to pick up a first down. But on third-and-13 from the Tampa Bay 17, linebacker Lavonte David recorded a 6-yard sack that forced a 41-yard field goal by Hartley to increase New Orleans’ lead to 13-7.Fourth Quarter – Buccaneers 14, Saints 13
Tampa Bay middle linebacker Mason Foster intercepted Brees and returned the pick 85 yards for a touchdown to give the Bucs a 14-13 lead with 12:38 left in the game.Fourth Quarter – Saints 16, Buccaneers 14
Taking over at the New Orleans 37 after a missed 47-yard field goal by Rian Lindell, Brees hit Graham for a 15-yard gain to start the drive, followed by an 8-yard pass to running back Darren Sproles. That set up a 31-yard pass to Marques Colston down to the Tampa Bay 9 with six seconds left in the game to set up Hartley’s game-winning field goal as time expired.WHAT WAS NOTABLE ABOUT SUNDAY’S GAME FOR THE BUCS?
After sacking New Orleans QB Drew Brees four times on Sunday, Tampa Bay’s defense is tied for the NFL lead with nine on the season. Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recorded his first sack of the season in the first quarter against Saints QB Drew Brees. Defensive end Adrian Clayborn notched a sack and forced a fumble. Linebacker Lavonte David recorded a career-high 1.5 sacks, and strong safety Mark Barron, who led the team with a career-high 13 sacks, got half a sack. … Tampa Bay strongside linebacker Dekoda Watson recorded his first career interception of Brees in the first quarter. … Bucs middle linebacker Mason Foster recorded his first NFL touchdown when he returned a fourth quarter interception 85 yards for a score. The pick was Foster’s third of his career and was the third-longest in team history. … Wide receiver Kevin Ogletree recorded his first touchdown as a Buccaneer on Sunday. … Bucs running back Doug Martin recorded his first 100-yard game of the season with 144 yards rushing. Martin has six 100-yard rushing games in his career. … Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman had nine completions against New Orleans and now has 1,125 completions in his career. With two more completions he’ll surpass Vinny Testaverde (1987-92) for the most in team history with 1,127. Freeman scrambled for 13 yards on Sunday, which gives him 918 yards rushing in his career, which surpassed Testaverde’s 905 yards. … The game was delayed one hour and nine minutes due to thunderstorms in the Tampa Bay area. … The Bucs honored Gene Deckerhoff for 25 years of service as the “Voice of the Buccaneers.” The radio booth will now be known as the “Gene Deckerhoff Radio Booth.”WHICH BUCCANEERS WERE INACTIVE?
The following Bucs were inactive against the Saints: TE Tom Crabtree, CB Michael Adams, LG Carl Nicks, DE William Gholston, RB Peyton Hillis, DE Steven Means and QB Dan Orlovsky.
The following Saints were inactive against the Bucs: RB Khiry Robinson, S Isa Abdul-Quddus, OT Terron Armstead, DE Tyrunn Walker, DT Broderick Bunkley, WR Nick Toon and DT Glenn Foster.WHICH BUCS GOT HURT?
• Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy suffered an injured right ankle early in the second quarter, but later returned.
• Defensive tackle Derek Landri injured his knee right before halftime and was out for the remainder of the game.WHAT WILL UPSET GREG SCHIANO WHEN HE WATCHES THE FILM?
• The Buccaneers had a busted coverage in the first quarter that allowed Saints tight end Jimmy Graham to get wide open for a 56-yard touchdown to give New Orleans a 10-7 lead.
• The officials being ridiculously judicious with personal fouls in the second quarter. Defensive end Adrian Clayborn and free safety Dashon Goldson each picked up 15-yard personal foul penalties for alleged helmet-to-helmet hits on quarterback Drew Brees and running back Darren Sproles, respectively. The NFL is absolutely sissy-fying the game of pro football and some form of helmet-to-helmet contact is inevitable. Why not flag offensive and defensive linemen on every snap then?
• Left tackle Donald Penn giving up a sack in a second straight game. Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan got around Penn on third down in the third quarter and sacked Josh Freeman, forcing a fumble that was recovered by New Orleans and set up a field goal.
• Josh Freeman stared down Vincent Jackson in the third quarter and threw into double coverage, which denied the Bucs chance for offensive points in the second half.
• Tampa Bay’s defense has given up two late, game-winning field goals after the offense has failed to run enough time off the clock to prevent late-game comebacks by both the Jets and the Saints in consecutive weeks.WHAT’S UP NEXT FOR THE BUCS?
Tampa Bay (0-2) will travel to New England to play Pro Bowl quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (2-0). Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. ET and the game will be televised on Fox.
Copyright © 2011 Pewter Report, PewterReport.com and Pewter Insider. All rights reserved. PewterReport.com, the official site of Pewter Report, is an independent source of news and commentary and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the NFL.