In this third edition of “After Further Review,” beat writer Gil Arcia goes inside the two plays that impacted the Bucs and Patriots game from Week 3.
OFFENSE: INCOMPLETE PASS TO JACKSON ON THIRD-AND-1
In the second quarter down 7-3, the Buccaneers had the ball at the Patriots 38-yard line with 4:30 left on the clock and Josh Freeman was under center with running back Doug Martin lined up behind him as the lone tailback. Tight ends Nate Byham and Tim Wright were lined up on the line of scrimmage on each side. The wide receivers were Vincent Jackson near the left sideline and Kevin Ogletree near the right sideline. Patriots were in their base 3-4 defense.
Before the snap, New England’s rookie safety Duron Harmon moved up in the box to cover Wright while linebacker Brandon Spikes was responsible for Nate Byham. Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was on Ogletree and Aqib Talib was on Jackson. There was no pre-snap movement for the Buccaneers.
After the snap, both receivers and tight ends ran seam routes up field. Ogletree’s fake to the inside allowed him to beat Dennard, Jackson beat Talib off the line, and Byham beat Spikes easily after the Patriots’ linebacker stumbled, forcing him to trail Byham by about three yards. All this occurred within Freeman’s five-step drop.
Across the line, there was good protection for Freeman to scan the field if he wanted to. Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones forced left guard Carl Nicks back into the pocket but Freeman still had enough space and time. Freeman, not checking his other options, throws the ball down field to Jackson once he saw him get behind Talib. But Jackson was unable to haul the ball into his chest inside New England’s 10-yard line as Talib got his hand in and may have disrupted the veteran receiver’s concentration.
Why This Was Relevant: The Bucs were only down four points. They technically wasted a down by going deep with just one yard to pick up and keep the drive going. As a result, the Buccaneers would come up short on fourth-and-1 and turn the ball over on downs. Which by the way, the following drive the Patriots scored a touchdown.
In a season when nothing has went right offensively, Jackson, as a leader and team captain has to come up with that catch. Jackson also had another drop on the Bucs first drive that may have also went for a touchdown. 14 potential points left on the turf,affecting the outcome of the game. Do the Bucs win? Debatable, but it does change the entire complexion of the game and gives the offense – and Freeman – some much need confidence.
And was this bad playcalling? Was it poor execution? If the staff had already decided you would go for it on fourth down, why not call a running play or a higher percentage pass play to give yourself two easy opportunities to pick up the first? Why not throwing to a more wide open receiver in your tight end Nate Byham?
What They Said:
“You’ve just got to move on. Drops are part of the game. If I throw a bad pass you’ve got to move onto the next one, so that’s kind of how we look at it. It’s a collective effort – a collective effort to find a way to get in the end, just score some touchdowns at the end of those drives.” – Quarterback Josh Freeman on the dropped passes.
DEFENSE: PASS INTERFERENCE PENALTY ON THIRD DOWN
Tampa Bay’s defense forced New England into a third-and-5 from the Buccaneers’ 45-yard line with two minutes left before halftime. New England came out with three receivers in Julian Edelman (far left side), Kenbrell Thompkins in the slot, and Aaron Dobson on the far right. Tight end Zach Sudfeld was lined up next to Patriots’ right tackle in a three-point stance and running back Stevan Ridley started out in the right of the formation in the slot. Quarterback Tom Brady was in shotgun. Once set, the Patriots shifted around some parts; Ridley moved into the backfield to Brady’s right side and Edelmen motioned from left to right just behind Thompkins.
The Bucs came out in a 3-3-5 nickel defensive grouping with rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks covering Dobson, Darrelle Revis on Thompkins, and Leonard Johnson on Edelman. Safety Mark Barron was in the box with linebackers Lavonte David and Mason Foster at each end of the line — which consisted of (from right to left) Adrian Clayborn, Gerald MCoy, and Trevor Scott. Safeties Dashon Goldson was deep in the defensive backfield shadowed over the top towards the two receivers and Ahmad Black closer in as he was responsible for Sudfeld.
Once the ball was snapped, Brady already had acknowledged he was going to the right side and throw to the rookie matchup of Banks and Dobson and take his chances. As Brady threw it down the right sideline to Dobson who ran a seam route upfield past the Bucs rookie cornerback, Goldson was already making his way to that side after reading Brady and getting a good jump before the pass. As Dobson when up for the catch inside the Bucs 20-yard line, Banks got his arm in there to break it up. In the process of breaking it up, Banks made contact with Dobson and never turned around to play the ball drawing the pass interference penalty even though it was wrongfully given to Dashon Goldson on the stat sheet.
Why This Was Relevant: The Bucs had just turned it over on downs and the defense did a good job of stopping the Patriots offense just past midfield. As a result, the Patriots were given new life and scored a touchdown five plays later to give themselves a 14-3 lead over the Bucs. This drive created a string of bad fortune for the Buccaneers where the New England offense started having their way with Tampa Bay’s defense for the rest of the afternoon.
What They Said:
“Today we definitely made some adjustments throughout the first quarter, second quarter, and we did a good job adjusting and really trying to understand what we need to do to put drives together.” – Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady when asked about the matchups he saw with his receivers, primarily the rookies.