The Buccaneers earned their first win of the season with a dramatic, come-from-behind, 27-24 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was their first franchise win ever in the Steel City. PewterReport.com grades each unit each week and offers up its analysis here in this weekly feature.
After going a miserable 5-of-11 for 57 yards in the first half, the Glennon Mob, as supporters of Mike Glennon are affectionately known in some circles on the World Wide Web, wasn’t making a peep. Nor should they have. The Bucs offense was stuck in quicksand, and few, if any, could have seen the dramatic second-half comeback awaiting as the team walked out of the tunnel following halftime. But Glennon appears to have put a stranglehold on the starting job with two quarters of work as impressive as Bucs fans can remember. The former N.C. State standout finished the game completing 21-of-42 passes for 302 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Glennon was well protected in the second half and made a number of crucial throws and third-down conversions to lead the Buccaneers to an unlikely 27-24 victory over the heavily-favored Steelers. Glennon wasn’t perfect, in fact many were left scratching their heads late in the game when Glennon misfired on three straight passes into the end zone inside of two minutes. But when given a second chance with 40 seconds left in the game, Glennon led the Buccaneers down the field and found Vincent Jackson on a 5-yard TD pass that won the game for the Buccaneers, ending the team’s three-game losing streak. GRADE = B+
The Buccaneers were unable to get anything going all afternoon on the ground, rushing for just 63 yards on 20 carries (3.1 avg.). That total also included a 19-yard end around by Solomon Patton. The Steelers came in content to stop the run and force Glennon to beat them. Starter Doug Martin had 40 yards on 14 carries (2.9 avg.) and one touchdown. Bobby Rainey fared even worse, gaining just two yards on four carries. Martin had two receptions for 16 yards and Rainey added one catch for 16 yards in the game. Tampa Bay will need to run the football much more effectively going forward, but the second-half passing game bailed out the anemic rushing game on Sunday in Pittsburgh. GRADE = D
It wasn’t a perfect afternoon for the Bucs receivers, but the unit had a solid day overall and even some unlikely names came up huge late. Rookie Mike Evans was on his way to having his best day as a professional until what appeared to be a groin injury ended his afternoon prematurely. Before he got hurt, Evans had managed four receptions for 63 yards a first-half touchdown. Louis Murphy, signed back to the team just last Monday was pressed into a more prominent role after the Evans injury and responded with six receptions for 99 yards in the second half, including a 41-yard Glennon pass to get the Bucs in position to win the game with seven seconds left. Even rarely used Russell Shepard had two clutch catches for 30 yards in the second half, helping spur the comeback. Veteran wide receiver Vincent Jackson was held off the stat sheet until late, but made the game-winning, 5-yard catch on a terrific diving reception. Jackson played with a fractured wrist in the game, which may have contributed to his limited effectiveness as he was held to just 32 yards on three catches. GRADE = B
Brandon Myers came into Sunday’s game as the leading receiver among Bucs tight ends but was held without a catch for the first time this season. Rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins picked up the slack and notched three receptions for 44 yards. Luke Stocker was also held without a reception. The tight ends did contribute at times by helping keep Mike Glennon upright, as the Bucs QB was sacked just once on the afternoon. GRADE = C
There was plenty to pick out wrong with the Bucs offensive line. Bad penalties, poor communication between center Evan Dietrich-Smith and Glennon, and a nonexistent running game, but without the fives’ superb second-half pass blocking, the Bucs’ comeback would have never happened. Tampa Bay’s offensive line withstood everything Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau threw at it Sunday and gave Glennon just enough time to complete 302 yards worth of passes, with most of that coming in the second half. The offensive line manned up against one of the strongest front sevens in the league and held its ground in crucial situations on Sunday. GRADE = B-
Many wondered how effective a hobbled Michael Johnson and Gerald McCoy would be coming into to Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh. The question was answered early as both had an immediate impact on the first defensive series of the game. McCoy notched a sack and a Johnson sack and strip led to Tampa Bay’s first points of the game. The defensive line battled hard all game and ended up sacking Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger five times in the first half and pressured the Steelers’ signal caller throughout the game. Johnson had two sacks while virtually playing on one leg, and McCoy and defensive ends Da’Quan Bowers and Scott Solomon each had a sack in the game and helped hold the Steelers to 85 yards rushing on 27 carries (3.1 avg.). GRADE = A-
Lavonte David had his best statistical game of the season on Sunday, notching 12 tackles, three tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Dane Fletcher, subbing again for an injured Mason Foster, had seven tackles, and Danny Lansanah, who got the nod over Jonathan Casillas, added three tackles in his first start. While the numbers look good, the group did struggle in pass defense, allowing a number of balls to be completed over the middle after getting sucked up on play action. Tight end Heath Miller finished with 10 catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. You can expect a heavy dose of Jimmy Graham next week in New Orleans, and the defensive coaching staff is going to have to fix that lax coverage or Graham could have a career game against the Bucs. GRADE = C
Once again, the Bucs secondary was a sieve at times and allowed Roethlisberger to pick them apart. Everyone in the secondary took turns with poor coverage, but the safety play was once again deficient and the Bucs failed to intercept a pass or even get their hands on many others, notching just two pass breakups in the game. Cornerback Alterraun Verner and Johnthan Banks struggled covering Antonio Brown, who finished with seven catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns. With an elite QB in New Orleans’ Drew Brees coming up next Sunday, the urgency to get things straightened out in the secondary should be the Bucs’ No. 1 priority this week. GRADE = D
Solomon Patton is a fearless kick returner despite being the smallest player on the field and was a solid contributor Sunday by averaging 14.5 yards on two returns. Kicker Patrick Murray was 2-for-2 on field goal attempts, including a 50-yarder that was partially blocked. The only poor special teamer was punter Michael Koenen, who averaged just 35.3 yards per punt. However, Koenen may have been instructed by the staff to kick high to limit return opportunities for Brown. GRADE = B-
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at email@example.com
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