Less than 10 seconds and a handful of plays stands between the Bucs being 2-0 on the year as opposed to 0-2. Once again on Sunday, Tampa Bay had their hearts broken on the leg of the opposing team's kicker, falling to the Saints 16-14 in a gritty, rain-delayed and somewhat controversially called game.
MOST IMPRESSIVERB Doug Martin
When your star running back runs for 144 yards, and as a team you pick up 160 yards on the ground, your football team most likely doesn’t lose. One Sunday the Buccaneers were able to find a way to come up short on the scoreboard with those types of numbers – not an easy thing to do.
Martin, after struggling last week at New York, never ripped off a run longer than 28 yards but instead took what the defense gave him, finding small seams at times and exploiting them.
Martin did have a drop in Sunday’s game, which gives him three on the season, and the former Boise State star has got to figure out a way to hang onto the football, especially with quarterback Josh Freeman struggling.
Overall Martin was outstanding and the Buccaneers need to keep the running game churning as they attempt to get out of their funk and back on the winning track.LB Mason Foster
Foster, like the rest of the linebackers, kept the Buccaneers in the game right until the final drive. Tampa Bay’s starting middle linebacker was all over the field and was a key component on the Bucs second quarter goal line stand, keeping Brees and Co. out of the end zone just before the first half ended. A touchdown right there and things could have gotten sketchy, but the momentum and confidence of the Buccaneers defense grew by leaps and bounds.
Foster wasn’t just a stud in the run game, but also had the play of the game in pass coverage, intercepting a Brees pass early in the fourth quarter and returning it 85 yards for a touchdown, the third longest pick six in Buccaneers history.
For the game Foster had seven tackles, two pass breakups and the interception return for a touchdown.DE Adrian Clayborn
Clayborn was victimized by a questionable penalty in the second quarter when the Bucs third-year defensive lineman blasted Saints QB Drew Brees for an apparent sack and fumble. But out came the yellow flag and the Buccaneers, who would have been in scoring position after the fumble recovery, instead handed the ball back to Brees and the Saints offense. Clayborn was visibly shocked after the play wondering what he could have done differently. Clayborn declined to talk to PewterReport.com on the record, as most likely it would have been too difficult to bite his tongue on his thoughts about the call.
Clayborn was a beast on the afternoon, flying all over field and collected five tackles, one sack, a forced fumble and credited with a pass breakup.LB Lavonte David
Lavonte David apparently had no hangover from the Jets game last Sunday as the second-year linebacker from Nebraska had another excellent game versus the Saints. PewterReport.com’s Scott Reynolds, in a recent Fab 5, said for David to take the next step to the elite level, he needed more splash plays. David must read Reynolds’ column as he collected six tackles, 1.5 sacks, three quarterback pressures and a pass break up. Last week David had an interception and now all three of the Bucs linebackers have at least one sack and an interception in just the first two games of the season.S Mark Barron
The presence of safety Dashon Goldson is helping Mark Barron (and Goldson) develop into one of the better safety tandems in the NFC, and maybe the entire league. Barron looks like a completely different player in 2013 than he did as a rookie and while he did have pass interference call against the Saints, No. 23 was all over the field in run and pass support.
For the game Barron led all players with 13 tackles, and was credited with half a sack to go along with a tackle for loss and a pass breakup.Honorable Mention:
Gerald McCoy, Michael Koenen, Dekoda Watson, Dashon GoldsonMOST DISAPPOINTINGWR Vincent Jackson
Yes Jackson led the Bucs in receiving with five catches for 77 yards, but the offensive captain also had two drops on Sunday, one which would have resulted in a first down late in the first half. When your quarterback is struggling, your Pro Bowl receiver must come up with key catches. On Sunday, Jackson was unable to do so, at least early in the game.
Jackson did respond on the Bucs final two drives picking up a couple crucial first down receptions despite getting blasted across the middle. Jackson also out wrangled a Saints defender for an apparent 75-yard TD pass, but the score was nullified by a procedure penalty.
Jackson didn’t have a terrible game, but as a veteran and in a crucial game, Jackson needed to be better.QB Josh Freeman
For the second straight week Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman completed less than 50 percent of his passes and under his leadership scored just seven points on Sunday. For a fifth-year quarterback, that just isn’t enough. Freeman was his cliché self – a model of inconsistency. A couple of great passes followed up with a couple of head scratchers, including an interception that was thrown off his back foot and late into double coverage.
There is no need to pile on Freeman anymore at this point as the Bucs current start is catching from every angle. How long does head coach Greg Schiano stick with Freeman? A lot will be determined over the next two games. If the Bucs and Freeman can catch fire – or at least generate a little smoke – it could help turn the season around. If the Bucs are 0-4 at the bye week, the keys to the offense may be handed to rookie Mike Glennon.
For the game Freeman finished 9-of-22 for 125 yards with one TD and one interception. Freeman also lost a fumble in the second half.S Ahmad Black
The Bucs played more dime coverage on Sunday than they have shown during Schiano's tenure in Tampa Bay and Black was on the field for an extended number of plays Sunday. The former Gator was the culprit on one of three unnecessary roughness calls Sunday when he foolishly nearly decapitated Saints tight end Jimmy Graham on a deep ball over the middle. Black, like Goldson and Barron, must try and find a better strike zone as the Bucs secondary has already caught the attention of the NFL offices and the officials.
Without benefit of a second look it appeared Black was also late in giving help to cornerback Leonard Johnson over the top on the Saints final pass play, one in which that set up the game-winning field goal.K Rian Lindell
It was wet, the field was muddy and the winds were blowing across the field Sunday when Lindell lined up to put the Bucs ahead by four points late in Sunday’s game against the Saints. The conditions were terrible, yet Lindell has to make that kick. Would it have guaranteed a win? No, but it would have made it a bit more difficult for Brees and the Saints offense, as they would have been forced to score a touchdown instead of a field goal. And lets face it – Lindell has one job to do on this football team, and despite the pressure conditions or circumstances, the former Bills kicker has to make that kick.WR Mike Williams
The stat line says it all. Two receptions for nine yards. Crickets. Bucs receiver Mike Williams was virtually non-existent for the second week in a row, something that shouldn’t happen to a player who just signed a huge extension in the offseason. Somehow, some way, Williams has to find a way to get open. There is no way the Bucs, led by Freeman, or even Tom Brady for that matter, can win may games when the only legitimate target you have is one receiver, that being Jackson.
Williams had an opportunity to make a third-down play late in the game but inexplicably failed to get both feet in bounds on one of Freeman’s better throws of the afternoon. Williams will be the first to say he must play better, and for Freeman’s and the offense's sake, it must happen sooner rather than later.Dishonorable Mention:
TE Luke Stocker, CB Leonard Johnson
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