The Seattle Seahawks demonstrated why they were 7-1 going into Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers. After being down 21-0 on their home field, they came back to defeat the Bucs in overtime 27-24. Tampa Bay appeared to have the game in control early but it quickly slipped away.
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.
1. Fix The Safety Valves
Original Key: The Buccaneers last line of defense has been burned on several occasions. Philadelphia, Atlanta, and New Orleans have all gotten behind Tampa Bay’s safeties for easy scores and have also allowed big passing plays behind them.
Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron were supposed to be the stop gap for anything beyond the second level of the Bucs defense. But Barron has been playing closer to the box on the majority of snaps this season and on several personnel packages the Bucs have placed a backup safety in his safety spot which has resulted in those deep plays or miscommunication.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has the ability to go deep and if wide receiver Golden Tate gets in the defensive backfield, it can be a long day for the Bucs’ defensive backfield. And if Barron and Goldson are unable to play, it can turn ugly in a hurry.
Key Result: The Buccaneers started Mark Barron and Keith Tandy since All-Pro Dashon Goldson did not make the trip to Seattle. Barron was all over the field Sunday as he recorded 11 total tackles, two passes defensed, and an interception which came during Seattle’s first drive. Tandy added five total tackles and an interception inside the Bucs’ five-yard line for his first of his career.
Barron did perform better out of the two as he was involved in stopping key first downs throughout the game. Both interceptions from the Buccaneers’ safeties prevented potential scores but on a Seahawks punt return by receiver Golden Tate, Tandy missed a tackle which resulted in a 71-yard return for Tate.
2. Limit The 12th Man
Original Key: Seattle’s CenturyLink Field is one of the loudest stadiums in the country and the fans have been dubbed “The 12th Man.” Setting the Guinness World Record for the loudest stadium on September 15, opponents who travel to Seattle to play the Seahawks have a difficult time on offense.
The Buccaneers have to figure out a way to get the crowd out of the game early. If not, there can be lots of penalties and miscues on offense.
Key Result: Tampa Bay did a great job in the first half of the game quieting the crowd. As the Bucs added touchdowns, the 12th man became a non-factor.
More importantly, the Bucs limited their penalties on offense – one of the three offensive penalties was a false start. They also went to a lot of silent counts because of the crowd noise in order to snap the ball. Their time of possession was also a key factor as the Bucs controlled the ball for 19:04 in the first half, forcing the fans to boo the home team heading into the locker room.
But Seattle would bring the crowd back into the game in the second half as they inched closer to tying the score. For every Bucs failed third down conversion and incomplete pass, the noise grew larger making it difficult for Tampa Bay’s offense to regain their first half success.
3. Force Turnovers
Original Key: The Bucs have had difficulties taking the ball from their opponents. The Seahawks have no problem creating takeaways. In hindsight, this can spell trouble for the Bucs. However, Seattle has done their fair share of turning the ball over as of late.
Seattle has had six turnovers in their last four games – five have been fumbles. Tampa Bay should be able to force Seattle into mistakes but that is something the Bucs have not been able to do consistently all season long.
Key Result: The Bucs started the game with safety Mark Barron intercepting a pass off of Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson. Then after Tampa Bay jumped out in front 14-0, the Seahawks would fumble the ensuing kickoff in which Michael Koenen recovered for Tampa Bay at Seattle’s 31-yard line, leading to another touchdown two plays later. Tampa Bay’s third and final forced turnover came when second-year safety Keith Tandy intercepted another Wilson pass as Seattle was three yards away from scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Bucs’ wide receiver and punt returner Skye Dawson nearly turned the ball over on a muffed punt but was able to fall on top of it in the first quarter. Overall, the Buccaneers did an excellent job protecting the football and not turning it over.
4. Cage The Beast
Original Key: Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has proven to be a reliable offensive weapon for Seattle. He has rushed for 601 yards and six touchdowns this season. But his running game goes beyond his production when he enters "beast mode."
Lynch’s running style makes it difficult defenders to bring him down, just ask Arizona defensive end Darnell Dockett. In Week 7 on Thursday Night Football, Lynch’s number was called and ran it right through in between the tackles. As Dockett came across the defensive line in an attempt to stop him, Lynch lowered his shoulder and knocked Dockett to the ground as his helmet went flying off.
The Bucs’ front four need to keep Seattle’s running back in the backfield. Once he gets to the second and third level of the defense, Tampa Bay’s linebackers and defensive backs can have a tough time bringing him down, much like Dockett.
Key Result: Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch started the game with 43 yards on five carries in the first quarter. Due to the Buccaneers’ ability to control the football and a knee injury that he suffered, Lynch’s number was rarely called in the second quarter.
However, in the second half, the Bucs appeared to have lost the ability to contain Lynch as he turned on his ever popular “beast mode” in the second half and overtime. He would register 82 hard earned yards on 20 carries between regulation and overtime. His 41 yards in overtime helped the team march downfield and setup the game winning field goal.
5. Open It Up
Original Key: The Bucs offense has been able to move the ball to some degree and put some points on the board thanks to the shortage yardage, high percentage throws from rookie quarterback Mike Glennon. At some point they have to begin taking more shots down field and Week 9 could be the week to do so.
Seattle’s defense now has film on Glennon and know he goes to his second and third options quite often who are underneath. They also like to load the box which adds more intrigue for the Buccaneers to go to more play action and take shots downfield.
At times though it seems Glennon prefers to go to his intermediate options. Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan should consider calling more deep routes in Seattle, no matter who the receivers are.
Key Result: The Buccaneers went deep on Mike Glennon’s second pass play of the game which forced a pass interference penalty. In the second quarter, Glennon went deep again to the same receiver in Sky Dawson which drew another pass interference penalty. That lead to their first touchdown three plays later.
After that, Tampa Bay was unable to get much going with the deep ball offensively unless Glennon scrambled outside the pocket and improvised – like his touchdown pass to Tiquan Underwood in the second quarter. Glennon was officially two-for-three on passing plays 20 yards or more but there were not enough shots taken downfield that would have stretched the Seahawks’ defense.