After a disappointing first half of the season where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers failed to win a game, they were able to turn things around to start the second half of their schedule on Monday Night Football. The Bucs beat the Miami Dolphins 22-19 and where certain players shined on primetime, others struggled. Here are PewterReport.com’s unit game grades.
QUARTERBACKRookie quarterback Mike Glennon has been very poised in his first year so far, but looked a bit rattled against the Dolphins. Statistically, he had his worst game of the season since his debut against the Cardinals. He completed just 11 of 21 passes (52.3 percent) for 139 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and a quarterback rating of just 69.3.
The offensive line did a pretty good job in pass protection; especially considering the talent Miami has on the defensive side of the ball. But Glennon seemed to crack under under pressure at times and would throw the ball early and off target. There were a couple passes like this that could have resulted in an interception.
Glennon continues to show the potential of being a good quarterback. He looks to be improving with his deep ball, and when given a clean pocket, he rarely makes mistakes. Although Glennon didn’t have his best game, he finally got the first win of his NFL career which should be a good confidence boost going forward.GRADE= C
RUNNING BACKSFor the second week in a row the offensive line did a great job of opening holes for the Buccaneer running backs. Mike James started off the game with five carries for 41 yards (8.1 yards per carry) but unfortunately suffered an injury at the one-yard line that sidelined him for the rest of the game. James was on pace to have another 150-plus yard game had he not been injured.
After James left the game, Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey came in for relief. Leonard had 20 carries for 57 yards (2.9 average) and also had two catches for 16 yards. Rainey, who joined the team just a couple weeks ago, looked very impressive with 45 yards on eight carries (5.6 average) and one touchdown. He also added a catch for eleven yards. GRADE= A-
WIDE RECEIVERS The Bucs’ leading receiver on the evening was Tiquan Underwood, who had three receptions for 64 yards. After not even making the team initially, Underwood has played himself into the starting lineup has done a good job thus far since his return in early October.
The Bucs No. 1 receiver Vincent Jackson did not look good against the Dolphins, with at least one drop and a couple lackluster effort plays. He struggled to create separation for the most part, and ended with just three catches for 28 yards.
Those two players are the only wideouts to catch a pass in the game, showing how thin the Bucs are at wide receiver right now. GRADE= D
OFFENSIVE LINEFor the second straight game the offensive line did a good job of opening the run game and protecting Glennon in the pass game. Tampa Bay’s one only allowed two sacks from Miami’s vaunted pass rushing defense, which includes Cameron Wake.
Left tackle Donald Penn had the best play of the game on a tackle-eligible call where he caught a one-yard touchdown pass and dunked it over the crossbar. Along with that touchdown, he blocked very consistently all game long.
The line did have two big holding penalties, one on Jeremy Zuttah and the other on Jamon Meredith. Aside from the penalty, Meredith had a very dominant game once again. The offensive line seems to be getting back to where everyone expected them to be at the start of the year.GRADE= B+
DEFENSIVE LINEAgainst a very poor offensive line, the Bucs front four was finally able to get to the quarterback after not recording in two weeks. Both of their sacks came on back-to-back plays and basically sealed the victory for the Bucs. The first sack was by William Gholston (his first career sack) and Da’Quan Bowers (his first sack of the season). But there were at least five Buccaneer defenders that could have sacked Ryan Tannehill on the blitz play. The second sack was by Gerald McCoy, who now has three sacks on the season.
McCoy was dominant all game long, as he has been all season. His get off on the snap makes everyone else on the field look as though they’re moving in slow motion. He was consistently in the backfield despite being double-teamed. He finished the game with five tackles, a sack, three tackles for loss, and three quarterback hits.
Along with finally getting some pressure, the Bucs defensive line contributed to the best defensive effort against he run in franchise history, allowing just two rush yards on 14 carries. GRADE= A-
LINEBACKERSLavonte David continued his Pro Bowl-caliber season with another big performance, this time under the spotlight of primetime. David had seven tackles, two tackles for loss, and one quarterback hit. But his best play of the game, and a huge point in the game, was when he tackled Daniel Thomas in the end zone for a safety.
Middle linebacker Mason Foster has fell under the radar after a fast start to the season, but had a great game on Monday night. He had six tackles, two tackles for loss, and a quarterback hit. He was flying around the field all game and looked like he did in the first couple games of the season.
As a unit, the linebackers hadn’t played up to their early-season standards over the last several weeks. But they looked very in-sync and cohesive against the Dolphins and played consistently good all game. GRADE= A
SECONDARYOne of the secondary’s main problems this season has been covering opposing team’s No. 2 receivers. They struggled with that yet again, allowing Miami’s Rishard Matthews to have eleven receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
Other than that, the secondary played very well. Darrelle Revis shadowed Mike Wallace the entire game and held him to just 15 yards. Revis ended the game with four tackles, one tackle for loss, one pass breakup, and one game-sealing interception.
Free safety Dashon Goldson led the team in tackles with eight, and also had one pass breakup. Goldson did have a costly 15-yard personal foul penalty late in the first half. Strong safety Mark Barron has looked more like an All-Pro player than Goldson has this season, and had yet another great game. Barron had five tackles and one tackle for loss and was a huge part in why the Bucs held the Fins to just two rushing yards. Barron has made immense strides this year and is quickly developing into a potential Pro Bowler. Former Buccaneer coach and current Monday Night Football broadcaster, Jon Gruden, named Barron his “Gruden Grinder” for the game. GRADE= B
SPECIAL TEAMSKicker Rian Lindell continued his hot streak as he made both of his field goals, one from 24 yards, and the other from 35 yards.
Punter Michael Koenen was having a very good game, including a punt that was downed at the Miami one yard-line ultimately resulting in a safety, but then he shanked a punt late in the game, giving the Dolphins great field position.
Eric Page, who has been close to breaking a return loose all season, had a huge return of 52 yards that would have been a touchdown had Dakota Watson finished his block.
Tampa Bay did allow a big punt return by Miami, but was otherwise very good in punt and kick coverage. GRADE= B
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