Tampa Bay has fallen to 0-3 and that record was achieved by a total team effort this time around.
The Bucs will now face a tough uphill climb for the rest of the season. Although it’s still early into the schedule, the Buccaneers on Sunday did not show any signs of turning things around anytime soon.
Before every game each week beat writer Gil Arcia comes out with his Five Keys To Victory then after the game takes a look at how the team fared in meeting the objectives. The following is an analysis on how Tampa Bay did against the keys to victory as well as grades.
Key 1. FREEMAN HAS TO EXECUTE
Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman started 6-for-11 in the first quarter after hitting receivers on some nice, high-percentage passing plays. Although he was sacked on a play at the start of the game, he tucked it in and attempted to run out of trouble. But that was about all we saw that was positive.
Freeman started looking hesitant throughout the rest of the game. Receivers also did not help him out by dropping passes but at the same time had some passes thrown behind them, including two deep passes to running back Doug Martin down the left sidelines that came on first and second downs.
On a third-and-5 in the third quarter, following a Tom Brady interception by Mark Barron, Freeman threw slightly behind wide receiver Eric Page who was crossing the middle of the field inside five yards of the first down marker. New England corner Logan Ryan, who was beat by Page, trailed the speedy receiver and was able to make the tackle due to the throw. If it was on point and Freeman actually lead Page, the first down could have been picked up and keep the drive alive.
Freeman’s final numbers — 19-for-41 for 236 yards and one interception — could be defended by saying his receivers didn’t help him out. But if that’s said, his three “soft completions” where the Patriots were playing prevent at the end of the game have to be taken into consideration if we are speaking hypothetically. Remove those and the drops, he would be 16-for-31 for 169 yards and the interception. Those are not numbers a team needs from their starting quarterback to lead them to victory.
Key 2. PENALTY FLAGS
The Bucs offense started out with a false start call on All-Pro guard on the opening drive ended up pushing the team back to second-and-15. The Bucs could not convert on that series and it resulted in a missed opportunity for points, as kicker Rian Lindell missed a 38-yard field goal.
Later, in the fourth quarter, center Jeremy Zuttah was flagged for holding on a second-and-3 which put the Bucs back 10 yards. That would eventually result in a failed fourth-down conversion attempt three plays later.
Overall the Bucs did limit their penalties on Sunday (four for 48 yards), but the ones committed at crucial moments hurt the team.
Key 3. KEEP THE PRESSURE ON
The Buccaneers brought the pressure early on in the game and forced Tom Brady into some bad throws. Defensive end Adrian Clayborn, linebackers Lavonte David and safety Mark Barron teamed up for a first quarter sack and Akeem Spence all got to Brady, while the rest of the unit provided enough pressure to rattle the quarterback.
Unfortunately, the defense went to more zone coverage and became less aggressive which allowed the New England offense to march up and down the field the rest of the game. Although the Bucs totaled three sacks and six total hits on Brady, it wasn’t enough to stop the Patriots offense.
Key 4. NEEDING A SECURITY BLANKET
Tampa Bay appeared to have their tight ends involved in the gameplan early in the game. However, three yards on two catches shows that the Buccaneers still do not have a threat at the position.
With Luke Stocker and Tom Crabtree injured and back in Tampa, Nate Byham and Tim Wright each combined for a catch. Wright missed a golden opportunity in the corner of the endzone in the first quarter when a Josh Freeman pass went right though his hands. Once again, a poor showing from the tight ends did not provide many receiving options for the offense, especially after Vincent Jackson left the game due to a rib injury.
Key 5. THE THREE BUCCANEERS
Lavonte David and Mason Foster accounted for a combined 17 tackles Sunday. The third, Dekoda Watson, was nowhere to be heard of Sunday. A lot of it has to do with the personnel packages that had to be used, but outside of the tackles, the unit was beaten often in the passing game.
A few missed tackles also resulted in some extra yardage by the Patriots’ running backs who accounted for 156 yards on the ground. Former Buccaneer LeGarrette Blount ran for 65 of those yards.
Two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits, including David’s half sack, are overshadowed by the unit’s overall performance.