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PEWTER REPORT EDITOR-IN-CHIEF SCOTT REYNOLDS: “Tampa Bay’s penalty problems continue, and head coach Jon Gruden himself was a guilty party as he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in the second quarter after cornerback Brian Kelly was unfairly called for pass interference. Kelly and Gruden’s infractions put the Packers on the Bucs’ 9-yard line and eventually led to a touchdown. Gruden was well within his right to be upset with the bogus call – there were plenty of them on Sunday, but he was foolish to get penalized as it only hurt his team. The penalties simply have to stop. The Bucs had eight penalties for 103 yards today, and although those infractions didn’t cost the Bucs today, those untimely and unnecessary penalties will cost them a game or two down the road. Tampa Bay now has 34 penalties through three games this season.”
“The greatest aspect of Tampa Bay’s offense this year is its diversity. The first week featured tight end Alex Smith, the second week was rookie running back Cadillac Williams and the win vs. Green Bay on Sunday was due in large part to wide receiver Joey Galloway, who caught a team-high five passes for 53 yards and two touchdowns. Tampa Bay’s diversity on offense makes the offense unpredictable and allows Gruden and Co. to put some points on the board.”
“Tampa Bay has never had a finisher at the running back position like Cadillac Williams in terms of being able to execute the four-minute offense as precisely as the rookie rusher did on Sunday. Williams’ six carries for 46 yards late in the fourth quarter allowed the Bucs to run out the clock and essentially win this game. He was the difference-maker today. Not only is he impressive in terms of his ability to run the ball and find the hole, Williams has an ability to seemingly never tire even late in the game after multiple carries. He also showed the smarts to get down instead of running out of bounds with the game in the balance. It’s only been three games, but Cadillac has shown that he’s the real deal.”
“Bucs safety Will Allen stepped up big today in place of Dexter Jackson, who injured his hamstring during the first half and didn’t return. Jackson has always been a player who puts himself around the ball to make big plays, ala the Super Bowl. However, Allen brings intelligence and a knack for being in the right place at the right time, which is exactly what led to his two critical interceptions on Sunday. Allen had three tackles and two picks on the day, and the Bucs have found themselves a nice duo at free safety.”
“Matt Bryant is the unsung hero of the season thus far for the Bucs. He’s perfect (3-of-3) on his field goal attempts and his extra points, and that was huge today as the Packers saw field goal kicker Ryan Longwell miss an extra point and a field goal vs. the Bucs. That was the difference in this 17-16 contest. Bryant hasn’t had the pressure of kicking a game-winner yet, but his game-winners have come throughout the course of games, and that was the case today.”
PEWTER REPORT MANAGING EDITOR JIM FLYNN: “Tampa Bay’s defense knew it had to create turnovers in order escape Green Bay with a win for the first time since 1989, and it definitely delivered on Sunday. The Bucs intercepted Packers quarterback Brett Favre three times and forced a fumble, giving them a total of four turnovers on Sunday. Tampa Bay has now intercepted Favre 15 times in its past seven contests vs. Green Bay.”
“Say what you will about how Tampa Bay nearly blew a 13-point lead in Lambeau Field, but ask the Bucs and they’ll tell you that they’d take this win any way they could get it. The 0-2 Packers’ backs were against the wall and QB Brett Favre was as dangerous as ever. Add those ingredients to an already wet and rainy Lambeau Field, a place Tampa Bay had not won since 1989, and it’s not hard to understand why the Bucs are happy to be leaving Green Bay with this win. If 3-0 Tampa Bay can down Detroit at Raymond James Stadium next Sunday, the Bucs will be 4-0 for the first time since 1997. For your information, Tampa Bay has defeated Detroit three straight times.”
“Congratulations are in order for Bucs rookie running back Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, who rushed a whopping 37 times for 158 yards (4.3 avg.) vs. Green Bay all while nursing a sprained foot. Williams broke a few records Sunday, becoming the first rookie in NFL history to produce three straight 100-yard games in his first three games as a pro. Williams also broke Alan Ameche’s NFL record, which was set back in 1955, for most yards in his first three NFL contests by carrying the ball 88 times for 434 yards (4.9 avg.) and two touchdowns. A lot of Williams’ production is coming late in games (he’s averaging 29 carries per contest), so kudos to head coach Jon Gruden for sticking with the running game, which has played a huge role in Tampa Bay’s 3-0 start this season.”
“One of the biggest differences between last year’s and this year’s Buccaneers offense is their ability to keep drives alive. Tampa Bay is converting nearly 50 percent of its third down attempts this season, and the Bucs converted 8-of-16 on third downs vs. the Packers. One of the reasons why the Bucs have been able to convert third downs this season is because they have a running back who is putting the offense in reasonable down-and-distance situations. Third-and-2 is a lot easier to convert than third-and-15. Getting those first downs keeps the offense on the field and the defense off of it. The entire team is reaping the benefits of Tampa Bay’s ability to run the ball and convert 50 percent of its third down tries.”
PEWTER REPORT CONTRIBUTING WRITER JASON ARMENDAREZ: “Tampa Bay’s defense entered Sunday’s game vs. Green Bay with the top ranked defense in the league. That trend continued today in a hostile environment with the defense picking off Green Bay QB Brett Favre three times and forcing a fumble. This year’s team is doing something it hadn’t done the last couple of years, and that’s finishing games. One of the elements Bucs head coach Jon Gruden concentrated on during the offseason was finishing. It’s evident the team took that to heart only three games into the season, which is a tribute to the coaching staff and to the dedication of the younger players.”
“Although the win in Green Bay is huge, one thing continues to nag this team, and that is discipline. The Bucs entered the game with 26 penalties on offense through two games, and that ugly trend also continued today. The hostile atmosphere seemed to shake left tackle Anthony Davis’ discipline to start the second half, although he did a great job overall holding off a quick pass rusher in Packers defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. If the Bucs want to make it to the playoffs, the coaching staff must find a way to limit penalties. Overall, Davis has performed well in his first season as a starter and will get better as his playing experience grows. Remember – Sunday was only Davis’ third career start.”
“You can’t help but notice Tampa Bay’s inability haul in what should be easy interceptions. The latest example was a drop of what would have been a sure interception by cornerback Juran Bolden. The defensive coaches should implement some extra ball-catching drills to help the Bucs defensive capitalize on these opportunities. Tampa Bay’s defense is playing extremely well, but is must catch passes thrown their way if they want to be considered great again.”
“Tampa Bay can’t afford to get a big head heading into next Sunday’s game vs. Detroit. So far the team has been extremely focused and determined not to let that happen. Going back to the NFC Central days, Detroit has always seemed to play Tampa Bay tough. Detroit’s first-round pick, wide receiver Mike Williams, will no doubt have a chip on his shoulder when he returns to his hometown and plays the team that passed up on him last April. However, the receiver Tampa Bay will have to account for most is Roy Williams, who offers big-play potential, evidenced by his average of 15.6 yards per reception with a long of 51 yards. Lions head coach Steve Mariucci is expected to have his team well prepared coming off of a bye week while the Bucs look to improve to 4-0 on the season.”
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