Which players had outstanding games, helping to lead the Buccaneers to a 34-24 win over the Chargers on Sunday? Which Buccaneers players didn't play up to expected standards? Find out in this weekly postgame feature on Pewter Report.
The Buccaneers didn’t roll up 500 yards and put on an offensive clinic as they had done for the most part over the previous four games. Sunday’s game was a more balanced win, and fans and the coaching staff couldn’t care less how it happens, as long as it does happen. It took all three phases, offense, defense and special teams to notch the Buccaneers fifth win of the season on Sunday.
Most Impressive QB Josh Freeman
Freeman came into the 2012 season needing to make a declaration that he was in fact the franchise QB that coaches fans and management hoped he would be. Over the course of the last five games Freeman has done just that. On Sunday, Freeman didn’t have a 350 yard, four TD game, but he did get the win, playing smart clutch football. For the afternoon Freeman finished 14-of-20 for 210 yards two touchdowns and more importantly no interceptions. Yes Freeman had that mid-game series slump fans are growing accustomed to, but that is just Freeman apparently. Maybe that changes, maybe it doesn’t, but if continues to play as he has over the past five games, no one will complain. For the fifth straight Freeman has posted an over 100.0 QB rating, an impressive feat for any quarterback in the NFL, especially one who is only nine games in a new offensive system.LB Quincy Black
Black suffered what at first glance looked to be a devastating injury when colliding helmet-to-helmet with another player making a tackle in the second half. The good news is Black has been released from the hospital; however, the extent of the injury is still unknown. The one thing we do know is, prior to the injury, Black was having his best game of his 2012 season, and perhaps his best game in his Buccaneers career. Black appeared to be playing on instinct and following the lead of teammates Lavonte David and Mason Foster, who roam sideline-to-sideline, looking to make plays. For the game, Black was the second leading tackler despite missing part of the game, and his six tackles included a team high two tackles for loss.
LB Dekoda Watson
Watson has been waiting six games to atone for a personal foul roughing the punter penalty he committed in Week 3 at Dallas. On Sunday he had his chance and made the most of it. Yes he repeated the running into the kicker part, but this time Watson made sure he had gotten his hands on the ball. The blocked punt, combined with Leonard Johnson’s 83-yard interception TD return, were the two plays that turned the 34-24 win over the Chargers in the Buccaneers favor.LB Lavonte David
Nearly every week we write it, as nearly every week David is at the top of the final tackles stats. On Sunday, David’s performance was no different as the Nebraska rookie led both teams with 14 more tackles. When will the rest of the NFL step up and take notice of how well the rookie is playing? When will the local media take notice? Every week in open locker room and also following games, David sits quietly as media members file past him in search of a more sensational quote. David probably likes it that way, as all he does is week in and week out, is make plays.CB Leonard Johnson
People forget not only was local product, Leonard Johnson, not drafted by the Buccaneers, he had to participate in a weekend tryout after the draft just to be included as a camp body. Johnson spoke with the media on that Sunday after finding out he would be signed as undrafted free agent and very few people thought much of the small in stature cornerback that day. Fast forward seventh months and Johnson is tied for the team-lead in interceptions (3) and has recorded those three over the course of the last three weeks. On Sunday, Johnson’s interception was perhaps the single biggest reason the Buccaneers were able to walk through the tunnel with a 5-4 record.CB LeQuan Lewis
Lewis’ day didn’t start great. Replacing an injured Arrelious Benn as the Buccaneers kick returner, Lewis bobbled a kickoff return then attempted to return it from the end zone. Lewis managed just 10 yards on the doomed from the start return. Later in the game Lewis redeemed himself somewhat downing a Michael Koenen punt inside the five-yard line. But Lewis’ biggest play was undercutting a Phillip Rivers pass late in the fourth quarter and making a clutch interception.Honorable Mentions:
LB Adam Hayward, RB Doug Martin, WR’s Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson, DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim
Despite a 34-24 win over the Chargers on Sunday, there were a handful of players who played below their abilities and will need to improve before the Buccaneers line up in Charlotte next Sunday against the Panthers.Most DisappointingCB E.J. Biggers
Since his return from a training camp injury Biggers is becoming a staple on the most disappointing list. On Sunday, Biggers was part of a secondary that surrendered over 300 yards passing (337) including 218 in the first half alone. Biggers was better than last week at Oakland, but still got lost at times and gave up a Chargers touchdown in the first half to Malcolm Floyd. Biggers wasn’t even close and looked confused in where his coverage was. Biggers also caught a couple breaks as he was beaten by his man a few more times, but Rivers didn’t look to his side.LB Mason Foster
Foster wasn’t his dominant self on Sunday and was beaten by tight end Antonio Gates in the first half, when the second-year line backer got poor depth in his drop. Foster did have one of the two sacks for Tampa Bay, taking down Rivers for a four-yard loss in the first half. Foster finished with five tackles, with just two being solo stops.S Ahmad Black
The former Gator completely whiffed on an opportunity to clean up the Chargers first touchdown early in the first quarter. Johnson has wrapped up Danario Alexander but instead of taking him straight to the ground, attempted to sling him down. Black was in position to light Alexander up but barely made contact and Alexander sprinted 80-yards for the opening score. S Mark Barron
Barron will hit you. We don’t doubt that for a second. Sometimes it is even friendly fire as Gary Gibson learned on Sunday. But patrolling the secondary as an intimidating enforcer is only half of Barron’s responsibility. Stopping the pass is the other half. And when you give up 337 yards through the air there is plenty of blame to go around. Barron isn’t without his share of that blame as the Alabama rookie was late several times in Sunday’s win over San Diego. Barron was his usual solid self in run support but in order for the Buccaneers secondary to improve they will need Barron to be more of an impact against the pass.
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