Tampa Bay’s offense came out quickly under the direction of new quarterback Jeff Garcia vs the Seahawks. Garcia finished the first half going 10-of-14 for 142 yards, but was unable to get the offense into the end zone. Garcia showed that he can stretch the defense deep when he hit wide receiver Joey Galloway on a deep route for a 49-yard reception. The offense was unable to get the ball in the end zone and had to settle for a Matt Bryant 38-yard field goal to take an early 3-0 lead. Garcia kept the momentum with the offense on the following possession, completing 2-of-3 pass attempts, including a big third down pass to wide receiver Ike Hilliard that went for 28 yards and kept the drive alive. Garcia also found tight end Alex Smith for a 17-yard reception following the Hilliard catch. Garcia tried to hit Galloway on another deep pass down the right sideline, but just missed the speedy wide receiver. However, a roughing the passer penalty moved the ball inside the 25-yard line. Garcia only had one opportunity to throw the ball, which came on third down, and again failed to get the offense into the end zone on that drive. Even though the Bucs got a 31-yard field goal from Bryant, Garcia needs to put touchdowns on the board. He did a good job of spreading the ball around finding seven different receivers in the game. However, Tampa Bay’s new starting quarterback was injured at the 6:48 the third quarter after taking a hit to the back of the head by linebacker Leroy Hill. Garcia returned at the 7:48 mark in the fourth quarter and led a drive down the field, but running back Earnest Graham fumbled the ball inside the 20-yard line to thwart the potential scoring drive.
Luke McCown saw some action after Garcia’s injury in the third quarter and was noticeably nervous under center. McCown almost threw an interception with his first pass attempt, throwing into triple coverage. McCown showed the same tendency of holding on to the ball too long in the pocket on Sunday as he did in the last couple of preseason games and took two sacks. McCown did little in moving the ball in an opportunity to prove that he can run the offense when it counts.
The Bucs quarterbacks combined to go 20-for-31 for 210 yards (10.5 avg.) with no touchdowns and no interceptions, but they were hurried from the second quarter on, getting pressured 12 times by a physical, aggressive Seattle defense and getting sacked five times. Garcia also weathered two roughing the passer penalties.
Under the direction of Garcia and McCown, the Bucs gained 284 yards total offense compared to 343 yards from the Seahawks, but were 4-of-12 (33.3 percent) on third-down conversions. Tampa Bay’s time of possession was 29:35.
RUNNING BACKS Bucs running back Cadillac Williams was getting into a little bit of a rhythm before his injury in the third quarter sidelined him for the rest of the game. Williams was drilled on the right side of his rib cage by Seahawks middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu at the 9:53 mark in the third quarter. After struggling to find any running room early in the first quarter and coughing the ball up on on a reception on Tampa Bay’s first drive, Williams had a couple of good runs at the end of the first half that seemed to put some life into the running game. With gains of nine and 20 yards to end the half, Williams showed a mixture of power and finesse in those runs. On the 9-yard run up the middle, Williams showed a burst of speed through the hole and bouncing off tacklers. On the 20-yard run, Williams dragged five Seahawks’ defenders for almost five yards before going down. Williams has not been known for putting his head down and dragging defenders with him lately, but it was a good sign to see that out of the third-year running back. Williams had two receptions for 14 yards out of the backfield, but had one costly fumble, too. Williams finished with 60 yards on 12 carries, averaging five yards per carry. With that kind of average, the Bucs have something to build on in the running game if Williams’ rib injury isn’t too serious.
Earnest Graham and Michael Pittman replaced Williams in the backfield, but had little success running the ball. Pittman and Graham combined for 17 yards on seven carries and didn’t find much running room with the Seahawks putting eight and nine players close to the line of scrimmage. Pittman had five receptions for 32 yards and Graham had one reception for nine yards, but he also had a costly fumble in the fourth quarter at the Seattle 15-yard line.
The Bucs’ running backs rushed for 77 yards on 19 carries (4.1 avg.) vs. the Seahawks, which was pretty good. However, this unit fumbled twice, killing two prime scoring opportunities. Wiliams’ hurt ribs literally adds insult to injury.
WIDE RECEIVERS Bucs WR Joey Galloway was the main target for Garcia in the first half and finished the game with five receptions for 72 yards. He showed his deep speed on a 49-yard reception on the Bucs first scoring drive. Galloway, however, was double-teamed for the rest of the game and had little success with the deep route in the second half. The Seahawks made it a point to let Galloway catch balls underneath as he had two receptions for 13 yards in the second half. Galloway had two more opportunities for long receptions in the first half, but Garcia just overthrew him, which is hard to do with the speed of the 13-year veteran.
Bucs WR Ike Hilliard showed why he is in the mix at the Z flanker position with four receptions for 49 yards at Seattle. Hilliard had two third-down receptions that kept drives alive, even though the Bucs were unable to get the ball into the end zone. On a third-and-4 from the Bucs 16-yard line midway through the first quarter, Hilliard caught a 28-yard strike from Garcia across the middle of the field to move the ball close to midfield. That drive led to a 31-yard field goal by Bryant. On a third-and-9 play midway through the third quarter, McCown found Hilliard on a comeback route for nine yards as Hilliard stretched out and dove for the first down.
Bucs WR Michael Clayton had one reception for 11 yards and didn’t see many balls thrown his way. Clayton had one pass that was thrown behind him from Garcia and then stopped his route on another Garcia pass attempt. Garcia was seen barking at Clayton when he cut off his route when Garcia thought that he was going deep. Clayton also had one rushing attempt on a reverse for no gain.
Tampa Bay WR Maurice Stovall saw limited action and David Boston didn’t play against the Seahawks due to a pre-game foot injury. GRADE: B-
TIGHT ENDS Bucs tight end Alex Smith had two receptions for 23 yards vs the Seahawks. He had an impressive 17-yard gain following a 28-yard catch from Hilliard that seemed to keep the momentum of the passing game going for a late first quarter drive. Smith ran a good crossing route across the middle of the field heading toward the left sideline as Garcia found him open. The throw from Garcia was a little low and Smith wasn’t able to turn up field to get some more yards.
Tight end Jerramy Stevens, who was convicted of DUI and marijuana charges before making the trip to Seattle, didn’t do much to make a case for more playing time. Stevens caught a pass from Garcia, but fumbled as he turned up field to get more yards. Stevens, who is known for his lack of ball security, was bailed out because of a roughing the passer penalty.
The tight ends didn’t make many impact plays against Seattle in the passing game, and showed little pop off the line of scrimmage in the running game.
The Bucs offensive line did a good job of creating a pocket for Garcia for most of the first half. Left tackle Luke Petitgout did a good job of guarding Garcia’s blindside and kept the speed rush from Seattle defensive end Darryl Tapp from getting around the edge. Right tackle Jeremy Trueblood did a decent job on defensive end Patrick Kerney. Even though Kerney had 1.5 sacks, he did his damage when he was lined up at defensive tackle.
Right guard Davin Joseph struggled for most of the game with Kerney and defensive tackle Rocky Bernard. Joseph also had two bad penalties, including a false start on a third-and-8 play in the first quarter.
Left guard Arron Sears did a decent job in his first start in the NFL. Sears was able to keep Seattle’s pass rush from getting into Garcia’s face, but he did struggle when pulling on running plays. Sears seemed a little slow in getting to the hole and opening up a lane for Williams.
The run blocking seemed to improve a little as the first half moved along and the pass blocking was acceptable as the line gave up just two sacks. However, the holes weren’t there in the second half and the Seahawks were able to come up the field on the pass rush recording three sacks in the second half.
Not producing 100 yards rushing, giving up five sacks and 12 quarterback hurries, and allowing Garcia to get hit often and hurt on a scramble because he left the pocket due to pressure was inexcusable.
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