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GAME GRADES OFFENSE
QUARTERBACK Byron Leftwich started out the game slowly, and never heated up. On his third attempt of the game, on the Bucs second possession, Leftwich threw a horrible pass that was intercepted by Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas. Leftwich was hit as he threw into triple coverage. The pass was horribly underthrown, and tight end Kellen Winslow had no chance to catch the ball. Thomas dropped down to make the interception, and keep the momentum going in New York's favor.
Leftwich also had three-and-outs on every possession before, and after that interception. In the first half the Buccaneers starting signal caller was 5-of-7 for nine yards with one interception and no touchdowns. Leftwich was unable to lead Tampa Bay to getting a first down in the first half.
The second half of the game was no better for Leftwich. He completed two passes on nine attempts for 13 yards. It was a disastrous performance from Leftwich. He was unable to get into a rhythm throwing the football, and never got comfortable in the pocket. He finished the game 7-of-16 for 22 yards and no touchdowns with one interception, and a quarterback rating of 25.0.
Backup quarterback Josh Johnson replaced Leftwich at 9:33 on the clock in the fourth quarter. Johnson was able to move the ball downfield in his one drive. Johnson had a few nice plays on the possession. He had a 15-yard scramble on second-and-9. After not finding an open receiver, Johnson avoided the rush and raced downfield for the gain. Johnson was aided by a pass interference penalty, but also had an eight-yard toss to wide receiver Sammie Stroughter on fourth-and-4. Johnson went back to Stroughter for 15-yards along the sideline on the next play.
On first-and-goal from the five-yard line, Johnson gave the Bucs a chance to get on the scoreboard. Johnson scrambled and threw a pass in the back of end zone for wide receiver Michael Clayton. The big wide receiver jumped for the pass and had it in his hands, but dropped the ball. Johnson threw incomplete on his next three pass attempts, and the Buccaneers were shut out for the first time since 2006.
That was Johnson's only drive. He finished the game 4-of-10 passing for 36 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Johnson ran the ball once for 15 yards, and was Tampa Bay's leading rusher. His quarterback rating was 50.4.
GAME GRADE: F
RUNNING BACKS Derrick Ward got the start against his former team on Sunday. Ward got no support from his offensive line. He had no holes to run through, and had defenders getting to him in the backfield. In the first half Ward ran the ball four times for two yards. Ward made one reception for no yards. He finished the game with two yards on five carries.
Carnell ‘Cadillac' Williams ran the ball once for five yards in the first half. Williams also had one reception that went for three yards. In the second half he ran the ball once for three yards.
Ward and Williams never had good holes to run through, and never got into a rhythm. Both tried to contribute in pass blocking in blitz pickup, but the Giants were able to get pressures with their blitzes.
Fullback B.J. Askew had one catch for one yard in the game, and did not make an impact as a lead blocker. Running back Earnest Graham was held out of the game with a hamstring injury.
GAME GRADE: F
WIDE RECEIVERS The Buccaneers wide receivers did not record a catch until their 10th possession of the game when Johnson replaced Leftwich. Not only did the receivers fail to record a catch for the first three quarters of the game, they dropped a few passes throughout the contest. Tampa Bay's receivers struggled to get open against the Giants secondary that was without a starting safety and cornerback.
Wide receiver Antonio Bryant returned to game action after sitting out last week against the Buffalo Bills with a knee injury. Bryant had four passes thrown his direction, and made one catch for six yards. On the drive that he made his reception, Bryant dropped a pass from Johnson.
Rookie wide receiver Stroughter led the Buccaneers with 23 yards receiving. Stroughter made an eight-yard reception on fourth-and-four to extend the one quality drive of the game. The next play he caught a 15-yard pass along the sideline. It was the longest reception of the game for Tampa Bay.
The Bucs quarterbacks tried to get the ball to starting receiver Clayton, but were let down by the six-year pro. Clayton dropped a touchdown in the back of the end zone on a pass from Johnson on first-and-goal. He jumped and had the ball in his hands, but couldn't hold on. It was the Bucs best play of the goal line series, and should have been a touchdown. Clayton was the target on four passes, and made no receptions for zero yards against the Giants.
GAME GRADE: F
TIGHT ENDS Winslow was the favorite target of Leftwich in the first half, but the results were only two receptions for seven yards. It was a quiet game from the Bucs standout tight end as he only totaled three receptions for 14 yards. Winslow was thrown the ball eight times.
Tight end Jerramy Stevens was not involved in the game very much. He made one reception for six yards. Stevens had three passes thrown his direction. One was in the end zone, and Stevens had steps on his defender as he ran to the back of the end zone. Johnson's pass was underthrown and was batted away for an incompletion.
The Buccaneers did not throw the ball downfield to the tight ends. The routes were primarily short out routes that were well covered by New York. The tight ends were also part of a blocking unit that could not open up holes on the ground.
GAME GRADE: F
OFFENSIVE LINE The Buccaneers offensive line had a rough start in the first half. Left guard Jeremy Zuttah was called for a false start that put the Bucs in a second-and-12 situation. On the next possession, the line allowed Leftwich to be hurried and hit on the interception pass to Thomas.
The Bucs offensive line continued to struggle with the Giants front four throughout the first half. Center Sean Mahan was abused by defensive tackle Fred Robbins, and allowed Robbins to record a five-yard tackle for a loss on running back Ward. A few plays later, Robbins beat guard Davin Joseph to hit Leftwich and force an incompletion on third down.
Mahan allowed penetration into the backfield all game. The one thing an offensive line can't allow in a zone-blocking scheme is backfield penetration, and the Giants had not trouble doing that against Mahan. Robbins and defensive tackle Rocky Bernard both flashed effective pass rushes going against the Bucs interior of Zuttah, Mahan, and Joseph.
The tackles did not play well in run blocking. Both were unable to open up holes. Right tackle Jeremy Trueblood was called for a false start penalty, and left tackle Donald Penn had a holding penalty declined.
In the first half the offensive line failed to provide time for Leftwich to throw, and was unable to open any holes for the Buccaneers running backs. Tampa Bay had 19 total yards in the first half. They had nine yards passing, and 10 yards rushing. They turned the ball over once and controlled the ball for 8:13. The Bucs did not gain a first down in the first half.
The second half was no better as the Bucs offensive line allowed the Giants to pressure the quarterback all game. The Buccaneers offensive line did not have any more success opening holes on the ground. For the game Tampa Bay had 28 yards rushing on 10 carries for an average of 2.8 yards per carry. Without Johnson's 15-yard scramble, the Bucs had 13 yards rushing on nine carries. Their total output on offense was a pathetic 86 yards with only five first downs. Tampa Bay lost the time of possession 43:38 to 16:22. GAME GRADE: F