The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made it three in a row on Sunday with their exciting 24-21 win over the Detroit Lions. Many were waiting to see if the Bucs could beat an opponent with a winning record and win on the road, and Tampa Bay was able to accomplish both in Detroit.
Below are the players who stood out and a handful that didn’t play their best on Sunday.
MOST IMPRESSIVECB Leonard JohnsonJohnson was a pleasant surprise in 2012, coming in as an undrafted free agent and being pressed in starting duty. But so far in 2013, the Clearwater native has struggled to make any splash plays for the Bucs. That was until Sunday in Detroit.
Johnson’s interception return for a touchdown late in the first half was a huge momentum-turner as the Lions, who had pulled ahead of the Buccaneers, were driving and prepared to add to their lead just before the half ended. But Johnson did his best Ronde Barber impression, dropping into coverage (and out of Matthew Stafford’s sight) before making a great jump on a lazily thrown pass. Johnson made the acrobatic pick then avoided Stafford on his way to the end zone and put the
Bucs up, 17-14, before halftime.
Another superlative play came later when on a third down, the small-in-stature Johnson made a physical tackle to prevent a first down on wide receiver Nate Burleson right at the first down marker, to force a fourth down.
Johnson finished the afternoon with seven tackles, two pass breakups and the interception.
WR Tiquan UnderwoodAnd to think that at one point this season, Underwood was watching football games on his couch while Kevin Ogletree was in the starting lineup for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That seems like light years ago as Ogletree, who now plays for the Lions, failed to record a catch and Underwood was the Bucs’ leading receiver on Sunday.
The Buccaneers took a lead in the second quarter on a Mike Glennon-to-Underwood connection. Underwood was mugged in the end zone by Rashean Mathis but was able to break free from the defender and cut back across the goal line and haul in Glennon’s pass.
But Underwood saved his best for later, hauling in a 85-yard TD pass from Glennon. Underwood got behind his coverage and never broke stride on the bomb from Glennon, then, without slowing down, threw a stiff arm behind him to brush off the would-be tackler.
Underwood finished the games with three receptions for a career-high 108 yards and two touchdowns. Not bad for a guy who was deemed not good enough to beat out Ogletree for a roster spot in August.
DE Adrian ClaybornMaybe it’s the dreads that you see flying behind him like a superhero’s cape, or maybe it is the high-revved motor he possesses, but whatever the reason is, you tend to see No. 94 around the football on nearly every single snap.
Clayborn picked up a sack on Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, but also was a monster against the run. Clayborn had five tackles, three of them behind the line of scrimmage, and numerous pressure that helped take Stafford off of his mark, creating errant throws and interceptions.
LB Lavonte DavidIf David doesn’t make the Pro Bowl this year, they should just ban the game altogether, as it would have no credibility. David is easily one of the Top 5 linebackers in the NFL. Yes, he is that good.
Once again, the Nebraska product was all over the field on Sunday, starting with an interception and then later forcing a fumble, which was his first in the NFL. David finished as the leading tackler on either side of the ball with 12 on the afternoon, and just for fun, he added a pass breakup.
TE Tim Wright Wright, the afterthought once camp broke in late August, continues to prove that Greg Schiano and his staff are a pretty good judge of talent. Converted from a wide receiver to a tight end, Wright has firmly established himself as the pass-catching threat the Buccaneers were looking for since the team decided to part ways with last season’s starter Dallas Clark.
Wright had a great overall game finishing with a career-high eight receptions for 75 yards. Wright had a number of important catches, including a diving grab of a Glennon third-down pass in the first quarter that kept the chains moving.
QB Mike GlennonThis game was a huge test for Tampa Bay’s rookie signal-caller. On the road, against an excellent front seven and against a team leading its division, most felt the game versus the Lions would give everyone a true indication where Glennon was in his development. Glennon delivered big time for the Buccaneers, posting a Bucs’ rookie record 138.4 QB rating after tossing two touchdowns and throwing 247 yards – but just as importantly, zero turnovers.
Honorable Mention: KR Eric Page, CB Johnthan Banks, CB Danny Gorrer, S Kelcie McCray, S Keith Tandy, DT Gerald McCoy
MOST DISAPPOINTINGG Jamon Meredith Meredith has been a difference maker since being inserted in the lineup last month prior to the game against Seattle, but on Sunday had a difficult time trying to block in the run and the pass game. The Lions front four may be as talented as any group in the NFC, and on Sunday dominated for a good part of the game and Meredith in particular struggled all day.
Meredith was slow pulling on a number of plays, allowing penetration that blew up a number of running plays before they were even able to get started. Meredith also has two costly penalties on the afternoon, one that nullified Bobby Rainey’s longest run of the afternoon.
In fairness to Meredith he was banged up last week and was on the injury report all week with an ankle issue.
K Rian LindellAfter a shaky start to the season Lindell had settled into a ice spell of consistency but on Sunday against the Lions, Lindell left six points on the field, and the two missed field goals almost cost the Buccaneers a win.
You wont find a more comfortable environment or perfect surface to kick off that that inside the dome at Ford Field which makes the misses even more concerning. In a season where everyone’s jobs are on the line, missing 35-yard field goals could be enough to cost Lindell his.
S Mark BarronBarron was not very Barron-like on Sunday, and while he was solid in run support, the second-year safety had two terrible penalties that were almost difference makers.
Barron committed two defensive pass interference infractions on Sunday, both coming on third down and both extending drives for Detroit. Barron was flagged for both penalties in the second half after getting nicked up with an undisclosed injury, according to both Barron and Schiano.
Fortunately, Barron’s secondary teammates were able to bail out Tampa Bay’s former first-round pick, coming up with four huge interceptions, including the game-clinching one by Johnthan Banks with less than a minute left.
T Donald Penn After an uncharacteristic poor start to the season by Penn, the Bucs’ starting left tackle had recently settled in and was playing at a Pro Bowl level. However on Sunday, Penn was beaten for two sacks by rookie defensive end Ziggy Ansah. Ansah was coming off an injury, but looked every bit the freakish athlete that many predicted could be the next Jason Pierre-Paul prior to this year’s NFL Draft.
Dishonorable Mention: G Davin Joseph, RB Bobby Rainey
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, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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