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DEFENSIVE LINE Tampa Bay's defense simply dominated Seattle's offense, which was without starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and featured a depleted group of wide receivers.
The Bucs held the Seahawks to just 176 yards of offense and allowed them to convert just 2-of-10 (20 percent) of their third down tries, which contributed to Tampa Bay's ability to dominate the time of possession, 41:41 to 18:19.
Although he did not have a sack, Bucs defensive end Gaines Adams had several impact plays on Sunday. He rushed off the left side and tipped backup QB Seneca Wallace's pass on a third-and-9 play, which forced an incompletion and punt after the team's third drive of the game stalled. But Adams' biggest play of the game came midway through the second quarter when Adams pressured Wallace off the left side and drilled him as he threw, which forced the ball to get tipped and allowed rookie cornerback Aqib Talib to intercept it, giving the Bucs the ball on Seattle's 35-yard line. That turnover led to a 27-yard field goal by Matt Bryant. Adams was called for offsides on third-and-15 from the Bucs' 25-yard line midway through the third quarter. The Seahawks eventually settled for a field goal attempt on that drive, though. Adams finished the game with three tackles.
Although Tampa Bay's defense was impressive vs. Seattle, it did not record a sack and allowed 103 yards on 16 carries (6.4 avg.). Julius Jones and Maurice Morris broke off runs of 45 and 21 yards, respectively. Seattle missed a 37-yard field goal after Morris' run in the third quarter. Bucs DE Greg White overran Jones on the draw play that led to his 45-yard run in the fourth quarter. That run eventually led to Seattle's first and only touchdown of the game.
White did not record a tackle vs. the Seahawks. Bucs DE Kevin Carter and under tackle Jovan Haye each had two tackles. Like White, nose tackle Chris Hovan did not have a tackle vs. Seattle.
LINEBACKERS Bucs middle linebacker Barrett Ruud had an extremely active game vs. the Seahawks. Early in the second quarter, Ruud made a key tackle on fullback Leonard Weaver on a third-and-6 play to stop him 1-yard short of the first down marker and force a punt. Ruud came up big again late in the second quarter when Wallace had a botched center exchange and fumbled the football, which allowed Ruud to recover it at Tampa Bay's 31-yard line. Ruud finished the game with a team-high six tackles. Weakside linebacker Derrick Brooks and strongside linebacker Cato June performed fairly well along the perimeter and each had two tackles. Tampa Bay's defense limited rookie tight end John Carlson to three catches for 11 yards (3.7 avg.).
SECONDARY Seattle attempted to establish the running game and attack the perimeter. Tampa Bay's secondary responded to the challenge, evidenced by the fact that Wallace completed 12-of-23 passes for just 73 yards and tossed one touchdown and one interception.
Bucs cornerback Phillip Buchanon was especially impressive in coverage. He nearly had two interceptions in the first quarter alone and finished the game with six tackles.
Strong safety Jermaine Phillips was active early. He broke up a pass down the left sideline for Carlson on a third-and-6 play on the opening drive. His hard hit on Carlson forced an incompletion and punt. On the next possession, Phillips blitzed on a third-and-2 pass play. His pressure on Wallace forced an incomplete pass and punt. Unfortunately for Phillips, he trailed Carlson on Wallace's play-action touchdown pass to the tight end on a fourth-and-1 play late in the fourth quarter. Phillips notched three tackles and one pass defensed on Sunday night.
Tampa Bay CB Ronde Barber was solid. On the second possession of the game, Barber broke into the offensive backfield and tackled Jones for no gain to set up third-and-2. The Seahawks had to punt two plays later. Midway through the third quarter, Barber did a great job of reading a throw from Wallace to Jones in the flat and stuffed the running back for a 5-yard loss. That set up third-and-15 from Tampa Bay's 25-yard line. The Seahawks eventually missed a 37-yard field goal attempt. Barber notched three tackles.
Bucs rookie CB Aqib Talib came up with the only interception of the game midway through the second quarter when a tipped pass landed in his hands. He returned the pick to Seattle's 35-yard line. The Bucs capitalized by kicking a 27-yard field goal to go up 17-0. Talib did record a tackle. Safeties Sabby Piscitelli notched two tackles and Tanard Jackson had one takedown.
SPECIAL TEAMS This unit has seen better days.
Kicker Matt Bryant was 2-of-3 on field goals. Both of his successful tries came from 27 yards out in the second and fourth quarters, respectively. Bryant's miss was from 47 yards out and came on the last play of the first half. In Bryant's defense, long snapper Andrew Economos' snap to holder Josh Bidwell was high, which contributed to the miss.
Bidwell pinned the Seahawks on their own 15-yard line late in the first quarter on a great punt, but he missed the mark midway through the third quarter on a 24-yarder that went off of the side of his foot and out of bounds, giving Seattle the ball at its own 35. Bidwell still averaged 38.5 yards per attempt.
Tampa Bay's kickoff coverage unit struggled vs. Seattle return specialist Josh Wilson and the Seahawks outstanding blocking scheme. Rookie linebacker Geno Hayes got this unit off to a great start by tackling Wilson at Seattle's 12-yard line on the opening kickoff. However, Wilson broke off a 61-yard kickoff return to Tampa Bay's 33-yard line with three minutes remaining in the first half. Late in the fourth quarter, Wilson struck again, this time returning a kickoff 46 yards to the 50-yard line. Wilson averaged 36.5 yards per return on four attempts on Sunday.
Bucs rookie return specialist Dexter Jackson continued to struggle on Sunday. He fumbled a kickoff in the third quarter and eventually fielded the loose ball. However, Jackson was tackled and fumbled the ball again. Luckily for Jackson, defensive tackle Jimmy Wilkerson recovered the ball, but an illegal block in the back penalty on Hayes was enforced, which had the Bucs offense start the drive at their own 5-yard line. Tampa Bay's offense went three-and-out and after Seattle RB Justin Forsett's punt return put the Seahawks on the 25-yard line, Seattle eventually settled for a field goal, which made the score 17-3. Jackson averaged 4 yards per kickoff return and 1.5 yards per punt return before being pulled in favor of Michael Clayton on kickoff returns.
COACHING Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin did a nice job of mixing things up vs. Seattle offense, which produced just 176 yards and turned the ball over twice. Bucs head coach Jon Gruden's offense could have lit up the scoreboard had it been able to make the most of some promising drives, but it still produced 402 yards and converted 56 percent of its third down tries, which is one of the reasons why the Bucs dominated the time of possession on Sunday, 41:41 to 18:19. Tampa Bay special teams coordinator Richard Bisaccia's coverage units had some uncharacteristic breakdowns vs. kickoffs. The Bucs were penalized just four times for 26 yards vs. the Seahawks.