Well, at least this one wasn’t on national television.
After Sunday’s wretched performance against Baltimore, Tampa Bay’s 56-14 loss at Atlanta in Week 3 can’t be viewed as an anomaly anymore.
“1-5 says we’re not a good football team, and we’re not a good football team,” Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith said afterward. “We weren’t able to get anything going to match some of their drives early on. It was total domination on their part.
“For us, we understand it’s a home game and we didn’t play well in front of our home fans. But, for our sake, we’re a better football team than that and I thought we would play better. Of course that goes for the head coach, too.”
Baltimore put up points on its first six drives – including touchdowns on the first five – and essentially put the game out of reach after 15 minutes. When Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco hit rookie Michael Campanaro for a 19-yard touchdown with 1 second left in the first and kicker Justin Tucker converted the ensuing extra point, Baltimore went up 28-0 and tied a 45-year-old NFL record for points scored in the opening quarter.
Flacco set a career-best in touchdown passes (5) when he hit Steve Smith on a deep ball down the left sideline for a 56-yard score early in the second quarter that put Baltimore ahead 35-0. Smith beat Bucs cornerback Alterraun Verner on the hitch-and-go route.
Coverage issues plagued a Tampa Bay secondary playing without two of its regular starters and Flacco made the unit pay dearly. The seventh-year signal caller hit on a 15-yard score to close out the game’s opening drive to Torrey Smith, who easily broke inside of rookie Brandon Dixon’s soft coverage and well underneath any help from safety Major Wright.
Wright started Sunday in place of injured safety Dashon Goldson and fifth-year journeyman cornerback Crezdon Butler made the first start of his career for Johnthan Banks.
Flacco’s next two touchdown passes – nine yards to Smith and 17 yards to Kemar Aiken – exposed Tampa Bay linebackers’ chronic inability to drop back into pass coverage. Lavonte David failed to get back on Smith and then Mason Foster and Danny Lansanah were late on the pass to Aiken in the middle of the end zone.
The Aiken touchdown came seven plays after Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon got away with what should’ve been his second interception in as many drives. Cornerback Jimmy Smith’s pick of a bad Glennon pass intended for Louis Murphy set up the second Flacco-to-Torrey Smith score. On the near miss, Glennon threw up a ball off his back foot while getting hit from both sides by Baltimore’s relentless pass rush.
Baltimore put 15 hits on Glennon and sacked him five times as the Ravens’ front seven manhandled an underperforming offensive line.
“The Ravens have a great defense, first of all,” Glennon said. “The bottom line is that the Ravens played better than us and there is nothing else to say. They out-executed us, they out-played us and obviously the score showed it.”
The Bucs second-year quarterback totaled 314 yards on 24 of 44 passing and finished with a QB rating of 83.0. The majority of those yards came late in the game, however, as the Bucs were outgained 347-101 in the first half and trailed 15-5 in first downs.
Tampa Bay’s offense again failed to get rolling on the ground. Running backs Doug Martin (11 carries for 45 yards) and Bobby Rainey (7 for 42) totaled 87 yards on 18 attempts for a respectable 4.8-yard average, but only gained 14 yards on nine attempts throughout the deciding first two quarters.
Those initial 30 aforementioned minutes were as brutal as any Buccaneers team has ever faced in team history. Tampa Bay entered the locker room trailing 38-0 and a large contingent of Ravens fans began to outnumber the home faithful in the stands.
The Bucs finally got on the board by moving 51 yards on nine plays to open the second half. Kicker Patrick Murray converted a 47-yard field goal with 10:50 left in the third after clanking a ball off the right upright from 45 yards out late in the second.
Tampa Bay scored its two touchdowns on the next two drives. The first came when Glennon capped a seven-play, 92-yard sequence with a 17-yard pass to rookie receiver Mike Evans. The next went for 3 yards to wideout Louis Murphy (team-highs of seven receptions and 72 yards). Coach Smith didn’t have many positives to point to following the beat down, but did recognize that the team didn’t completely give up and disappear.
“If there’s a positive, if I can just think of anything positive right of the top of my head, it’s how started the second half scoring the first three times we had the ball,” Smith said.
Another glaring failure among many Sunday was the Bucs’ inability to disrupt Flacco or stop the run. The Tampa Bay front four got pushed around by an offensive line starting a rookie at left tackle (James Hurst) and a second-year player at left guard (Dino Gradkowski). The Bucs didn’t register a single hit on Flacco, allowing him the time to complete 21 of 29 passes for 306 yards for an astronomical QB rating of 146.0. Led by Justin Forsett’s 111 yards on 14 carries, Baltimore racked up 169 on the ground.
Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy cited a number of reasons why Tampa Bay struggled to deal with the Baltimore offensive line.
“If you look at the plays he was passing, he was 1…2…3 quick,” McCoy said. “It was quick. The receiver made a quick move and boom. I mean one time I made a move, I’m looking at the quarterback about to make a turn the corner and the ball is already gone. You can’t do anything about that.
“And a lot of times they just blocked it well. I mean they found me, definitely. They would even switch protections while we were in our stance. I tried to move sides; it didn’t matter. They definitely found a way to neutralize me. One time we (defensive line) were about to go free but the (running) back came and cut me. They just blocked today and had a great. They had a lot of double teams and blocked it up today.”
Tampa Bay now heads into its bye week on a sour note. Unless St. Louis gets annihilated by San Francisco on Monday Night Football, the Bucs will be in sole possession of the worst scoring defense in the NFL. Today’s miserable effort pushed that average up from 31.2 points per game to 34.0.
Tampa Bay will again try to pick up its first home win Week 8 when it hosts the Minnesota Vikings at 1 p.m.
Sunday’s temperature at game time was 84 degrees, skies were partly cloudy and the announced paid attendance at Raymond James Stadium was 60,041.
Buccaneers reported defensive starters: LE William Gholston, DT Gerald McCoy, DT Clinton McDonald, RE Michael Johnson, SLB Danny Lansanah, MLB Mason Foster, WLB Lavonte David, CB Alterraun Verner, CB Crezdon Butler, FS Major Wright and SS Mark Barron.
Buccaneers reported offensive starters: WR Vincent Jackson, LT Anthony Collins, LG Logan Mankins, C Evan Dietrich-Smith, RG Patrick Omameh, RT Demar Dotson, TE Brandon Myers, WR Mike Evans, QB Mike Glennon, RB Doug Martin and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
The only active Buccaneer that didn’t enter Sunday’s game was backup quarterback Mike Kafka.
Tampa Bay’s inactives were QB Josh McCown, S Dashon Goldson, DE Larry English, G Kadeem Edwards, CB Johnthan Banks, T Kevin Pamphile and LB Jonathan Casillas.