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GAME GRADES: OFFENSE
QUARTERBACK Starting quarterback Josh Johnson had some solid play in the first half. Johnson was aided by some dumb Philadelphia penalties that gave him first downs, and was also let down repeatedly by dropped passes. The running game couldn't get going either, so the offense was reliant on Johnson to produce yardage in his second NFL start.
Johnson threw some good passes downfield that were dropped by his receivers. Wide out Michael Clayton didn't layout for a bomb from Johnson on the first play of the game. Wide receiver Antonio Bryant dropped a first-down catch on a third-and-13 play. Clayton dropped a first down pass on fourth-and-two. There were too many drops from Johnson's receivers all game long.
Including his accurate passes that were dropped, Johnson had some nice plays on third down. He threw to tight end Kellen Winslow for eight on third-and-six, and ran for eight yards on third-and-two. Both plays came on a 19-play drive that came up short on fourth-and-inches. Two Eagles penalties on third down extended the possession with first downs for Tampa Bay. The drive ended on fourth-and-inches when Johnson fumbled a snap from center Sean Mahan.
The next possession Johnson got the Bucs on the scoreboard. He fired passes downfield accurately to rack up yards in a hurry. The first pass was a 31-yard toss to Bryant. The Bucs wide out ran a corner-post route and was an easy open target for Johnson to connect with. The next pass was down the seam of the defense to Winslow. The tight end made a phenomenal leaping fingertip catch for a 24-yard gain. On the net play Johnson fired an 11-yard pass to Bryant to set the Bucs up at the Eagles nine-yard line.
After the two-minute warning, Johnson threw a great pass to Winslow in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Winslow got a step on safety Macho Harris, and caught the pass over Harris' helmet. Johnson threw a bullet right over the back of Harris' head and Winslow did a great job of holding on the pass.
Johnson got one more drive in the first half, and led Tampa Bay back into the Eagles 10-yard line. After a 28-yard run, Johnson completed a 15-yard pass to Winslow. Johnson got some good luck that put the Bucs in position to get another touchdown. A batted pass was caught by left tackle Donald Penn, and the big tackle ran down field for 15 yards before being tackled at the Eagles 8-yard line. On first-and-goal with six seconds left in the half, Johnson threw a pass intended for wide receiver Sammie Stroughter. The pass was deflected into the air, and intercepted by Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel to end the second quarter.
Johnson finished the first half 16-of-26 for 158 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He did a good job of moving the ball, and decision-making.
The third quarter was rough for Johnson as he threw two interceptions. Cornerback Asante Samuel intercepted the first on a short pass to Stroughter. Samuel returned the interceptions to the Bucs' 37-yard line.
The second interception was another drive close to the end zone. On the drive Johnson moved the ball with passes to Stroughter and Winslow. He had an excellent 35-yard run that featured some broken tackles, but that play was called back due to offsetting penalties. The big play that got the Bucs deep into Philadelphia territory was a 16-yard pass to Clayton that had 15 yards tacked on for a roughing the passer penalty on Eagles defensive end Victor Abiamiri. The drive ended when Johnson threw for Clayton but was picked off by cornerback Sheldon Brown.
Johnson came back to get the Bucs back on the scoreboard. He got the drive started with a 29-yard scramble around the left side of the offensive line after not being able to find a target downfield. Johnson went back to his favorite target Winslow for receptions of 14 yards and 10 yards. After that, the Bucs were at the Eagles' seven-yard line. After a few incompletions, Tampa Bay got their second touchdown of the game on fourth-and-goal. The second-year pro Johnson threw a pass high that Winslow made a leaping catch for the score.
Johnson had a few more possessions, but the offense couldn't move the ball. For the game Johnson was 26-of-50 for 240 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. He also ran for 40 yards on five carries. The Eagles blitzed Johnson a lot, and the Buccaneers young signal caller did a good job of extending plays with his legs. Johnson had his toughness tested, and was sacked three times while taking a lot of other hits. It was a gritty performance from Johnson, and the turnovers keep this from being a higher grade.
GAME GRADE: C
RUNNING BACKS Starting running back Carnell ‘Cadillac' Williams had a rough game against the Eagles. Williams finished the game with 10 carries for eight yards, and also was tackled in the end zone for a safety. All game Williams did not have holes to run through, and was constantly taking hits in the backfield. His long run of the game went for eight yards. He did catch three passes for eight yards, and did a solid job of blitz pickup.
Derrick Ward returned to the lineup after missing last Sunday's game at Washington with a banged up knee. Like Williams, Ward found little room to run with the exception of one play late in the second quarter. Ward had a great run up the middle of the Eagles defense. He broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage, and accelerated up field for 28 yards. That was the biggest play on a drive that ended close to the end zone with an interception.
Fullback B.J. Askew as called for a false start, and got one carry that went for no yards.
The running backs had 12 carries for 33 yards in the first half when the Bucs were still in the game. The Eagles pulled away late in the second quarter and in the third quarter, so the Bucs ground game disappeared. Tampa Bay had to pass the ball to try and get back into the contest.
GAME GRADE: C-
WIDE RECEIVERS It was a long day for the Bucs wide receivers. It started with Clayton, who entered the game as one of the NFL's leading receivers in dropped passes. The first play from scrimmage saw Clayton beat cornerback Brown deep downfield. Johnson threw a catchable ball and Clayton reached out for it but the ball hit his left hand and fell incomplete. Clayton could have laid out for the pass, or reached with two hands to have a better shot of corralling the ball.
Clayton continued to let down his quarterback. On fourth-and-2 at the Philadelphia 26-yard line Clayton ran a slant and was open. Johnson threw a pass into Clayton's chest, but the big wide out dropped the ball when he was hit by Brown. The drops for Clayton continued into the second half, and it was a disastrous performance for the sixth-year pro. Clayton finished the game with three catches for 25 yards.
Bryant dropped a first down reception on a third-and-13. Johnson three a bullet into Bryant, but the Buccaneers franchise player couldn't hold onto the pass when he was hit. Later in the first half, Bryant dropped an easy swing pass that negated a chance at taking advantage of screen that was set up.
Unlike Clayton, Bryant rebounded to make some contributions to the Bucs offense. Bryant caught a 31-yard pass from Johnson on a corner-post late in the second quarter. Bryant beat Brown on the play, and it was the catalyst for the first scoring drive of the game for Tampa Bay. Other than that reception, Bryant had a few other catches that did not produce a lot of yards. For the game he caught five passes for 62 yards.
Rookie wide receiver Sammie Stroughter made a few nice receptions in the game and finished with three catches for 18 yards.
The Buccaneers wide receivers were a weak unit on the offense for the fourth straight week. They totaled 11 receptions for 105 yards and no touchdowns. Winslow out produced the unit by himself. The dropped passes had a huge impact on the game. If the receivers held onto those balls Tampa Bay may have been able to stay in the game, and score more points in the first half.
GAME GRADE: F
TIGHT ENDS The best offensive player for the Buccaneers against the Eagles was tight end Winslow. He was all over the field, and the Eagles had no answer for the Bucs athletic tight end. Late in the first half, Winslow set up the Bucs first touchdown with a 24-yard catch that he went up high for and pulled down. A few plays later Winslow caught the touchdown over Harris head in the back of the end zone to get the Buccaneers back in the game at 14-7.
Winslow made four receptions for 56 yards in the first half with a touchdown catch. The second half was no different as Winslow had his way with the Eagles defense. In the fourth quarter he had catches of 14 yards and 10 yards on the Bucs second scoring drive. On fourth-and-goal Winslow made another impressive catch. He ran a slant and the pass from Johnson was high. Like his 24-yard catch in the first half, Winslow leapt and snatched the pass out of the sky for his second touchdown of the game.
In the game Winslow led Tampa Bay with nine receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns. It was the biggest game production-wise from Winslow since becoming a Buccaneer, and he was clearly a great mismatch going against the Eagles secondary.
Tight end Jerramy Stevens had a rough game. He had a holding penalty, and only made one reception for one yard. To make matters worse, Stevens went in the locker room with five minutes left in the fourth quarter with an injury.
Tight end John Gilmore got involved in the passing game. Gilmore is typically used to be a blocker, but he caught a pass for nine yards against the Eagles.
GAME GRADE: A-
OFFENSIVE LINE The Buccaneers offensive line knew it would be in for a tough challenge going against the Eagles blitz happy defense. Tampa Bay's line couldn't open up holes in the run game and struggled to keep the Philadelphia defensive linemen off of Johnson.
Before the Eagles lead eliminated the ground game, Tampa Bay had 43 yards rushing in the first half. The line rarely produced holes for the running game in the first two quarters. The Bucs won the time of possession in the first half 21:07 to 8:53. The Eagles scoring quickly on offense with big plays was the main factor in the time of possession.
Guard Jeremy Zuttah and center Mahan struggled with interior run blocking. They consistently allowed defenders to get penetration into the backfield. Zuttah got beat by linebacker Omar Gaither to make a tackle for a loss of three, and that type of play was typical for the Bucs offensive line against Philadelphia. Mahan and Johnson were not on the same page regarding a snap on fourth-and-inches that resulted in a fumble and a turnover-on-downs.
Guard Davin Joseph faired slightly better in run blocking, but allowed a sack of Johnson. Abiamiri beat Joseph quickly off the snap. The sack occurred late in the fourth quarter after the Bucs had scored their second touchdown.
Left tackle Donald Penn was beat by Eagles defensive end Trent Cole for a sack at the end of the first half. It was the first sack that Penn allowed in 2009. Penn had a memorable play for himself and Bucs fans. Penn caught a deflected pass and rumbled downfield for 15 yards. The big 330-pound left tackle got down to the Eagles 8-yard line.
For the game Tampa Bay had 303 yards of total offense. The ground game had 85 yards rushing, but almost half of that came on quarterback scrambles. Tampa Bay won the time of possession 34:33 to 25:27. GAME GRADE: D
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org