WHAT HAPPENED IN TAMPA BAY’S 33-14 LOSS vs. SAN FRANCISCOTampa Bay lost the battle on third down and ultimately lost the game, 33-14 to a much better team in the San Francisco 49ers, who improved to 10-4 and helped their playoff positioning in the NFC. Thanks to the arm and legs of quarterback Colin Kaepernick the 49ers converted 6-of-15 (40 percent) third downs while the Bucs struggled mightily on third down, converting just 1-of-10 (10 percent) opportunities.
The Bucs defense had chance after chance after chance to stop the 49ers on third-and-short and third-and-long situations alike, but could not get off the field. Kaepernick completed 19-of-29 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 39 yards on seven carries, including a big 17-yarder on San Francisco’s first touchdown drive.
Tampa Bay’s defense has proven all season that it cannot handle scrambling quarterbacks, and Kaepernick was effective moving the chains with his feet and extending plays on scrambles before finding open receivers downfield.
“We had opportunities, without a doubt, to stop him and we didn’t do it,” Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said. “That’s what it boils down to.
“It was a tough loss. It was a hard-fought game. Unfortunate the way it ended.”
The Bucs surrendered 376 yards to the 49ers, including 187 yards on the ground as the 49ers went on a crucial, 17-play field goal drive that chewed up 10:27 after the Bucs drew closer in the fourth quarter following Mike Glennon’s 26-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tim Wright. That made the score 20-14 before Phil Dawson’s third field goal of the game increased the lead to 23-14 with just over 4:00 remaining.
“They had a 10-minute drive in the fourth quarter,” Schiano said. “They played keep away, which is what you worry about with that offensive football team, because they’re capable. Again, we had them 20-14 – it’s third-and-12 on their own 29-yard line, whatever it was. It’s a six-point game with 12 minutes left. The opportunity’s there.”
But disaster struck on the ensuing kickoff for Tampa Bay as the Bucs called for a reverse, but Eric Page’s hand off to Russell Shephard was fumbled at the Tampa Bay 2-yard line and recovered by San Francisco running back Kendall Hunter for a cheap touchdown.
“It was a called play,” Schiano said. “We were going to run a reverse if the opportunity presented itself the right way. It’s didn’t, yet we still ran it. But it’s okay. We made a mistake. Guys make mistakes sometimes.”
That pushed the score to 30-14. The 49ers tacked on another field goal to push the final score to 33-14.
Outside of two drives – a 68-yard series that culminated in an 11-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Vincent Jackson prior to halftime, and a 92-yard touchdown drive late in the third quarter, the Buccaneers offense was awful. Tampa Bay’s offensive line couldn’t establish the running game as the team generated just 39 yards on 12 carries (3.3), led by Bobby Rainey, who only had 27 yards on 11 carries (2.5 avg.).
Glennon played better than he had over the past two games, and shined in the hurry-up, two-minute offense. Yet he struggled on third down, and was 0-for-2 on fourth down as receivers couldn’t get open against a stout 49ers defense. Glennon completed 18-of-34 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked four times and was intercepted on Tampa Bay’s final drive.
“I don’t think he took steps back today,” Schiano said. “The only way we moved the ball is when we went to two-minute and no-huddle. Mike’s the one who controlled the whole operation, moving it down field against, arguably, one of the top three defenses in the league. We didn’t perform in some areas, but I thought Mike actually, without watching the tape, gave us the spark.”
Wright led all receivers with seven catches for 82 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown. San Francisco’s Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis was also a force, catching five passes for 79 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown that put San Francisco up 17-0 late in the second quarter.
The Bucs conclude their 2013 home schedule with a 3-5 record as the team’s overall record slumps to 4-10 on the season. Tampa Bay travels to St. Louis next Sunday to take on the Rams.
HOW DID THE TEAMS SCORE? – BUCS vs. 49ers SCORING SERIESFirst Quarter – 49ers 7, Buccaneers 0Colin Kaepernick was 3-of-3 for 14 yards on San Francisco’s opening possession with the quarterback converting both of the team’s third down opportunities with his arm or his legs. Kaepernick rushed twice for 26 yards, including a 17-yard run on third-and-8. Kaepernick threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree to give San Francisco a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Second Quarter – 49ers 10, Buccaneers 0The 49ers drive covered 29 yards with the big play coming on third-and-15 as Kaepernick hit Anquan Boldin with a gain of 25 yards down to the Tampa Bay 21. However, on third-and-8 from the 19-yard line, Kaepernick was sacked by Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy for a loss of nine yards. That forced the 49ers to settle for a 47-yard field goal from Phil Dawson.
Second Quarter – 49ers 17, Buccaneers 0The 49ers covered 81 yards in five plays with the drive consuming 1:52 off the clock. After converting a third down, Kaepernick hit tight end Vernon Davis with a 52-yard touchdown. Davis beat strong safety Mark Barron in coverage on a post pattern for the score, which put San Francisco up 17-0 right before halftime.
Second Quarter – 49ers 17, Buccaneers 7The Bucs answered right before halftime with a touchdown drive. After a 12-yard run by Brian Leonard, quarterback Mike Glennon hit wide receivers Tiquan Underwood and Chris Owusu for gains of nine and six yards. Then Glennon hit tight end Tim Wright with a 26-yard gain down to the San Francisco 27. Two plays later, Wright caught a 4-yard pass and safety Donte Whitner was penalized for targeting, which gave the Bucs a first down at the San Francisco 11. On the next play, Glennon connected with Vincent Jackson on an 11-yard touchdown to cut the score to 17-7 at the half.
Third Quarter – 49ers 20, Buccaneers 7The 49ers covered 19 yards in eight plays. Frank Gore picked up 10 yards on first down, but the drive stalled after that run. A 43-yard field goal by Dawson increased San Francisco’s lead to 20-7 with 7:51 left in the third quarter.
Fourth Quarter – 49ers 20, Buccaneers 14Tampa Bay answered San Francisco with a scoring drive of its own. The Bucs traveled 92 yards in 10 plays to pull within six points. Glennon was 8-of-9 for 89 yards on the drive, connecting with Jackson on gains of 16 and nine yards. Glennon then hit Wright with a 24-yard touchdown pass to cut the 49ers lead to 20-14.
Fourth Quarter – 49ers 23, Buccaneers 14San Francisco embarked on a 17-play drive that consumed 10:27 off the clock. Kaepernick converted two third downs, including a key, third-and-12 situation at the 49ers’ 29 with a 14-yard pass to Michael Crabtree. On third-and-6 at the Tampa Bay 29, Kaepernick scrambled 10 yards to pick up the first down. The drive was halted on the Tampa Bay 3 on third down and Dawson was forced to kick a 21-yard field goal.
Fourth Quarter – 49ers 30, Buccaneers 1449ers running back Kendall Hunter scooped and scored for a 2-yard touchdown after Bucs receiver Russell Shephard fumbled the hand off from Eric Page on a reverse on the ensuing kickoff to put San Francisco up 30-14.
Fourth Quarter – 49ers 33, Buccaneers 14After Tampa Bay turned the ball over at its own 26 on downs, San Francisco went three-and-out after picking up nine yards and settled for a 35-yard field goal to finish the scoring at 33-14.
WHAT WAS NOTABLE ABOUT SUNDAY’S GAME FOR THE BUCS?Tampa Bay defensive end Adrian Clayborn sacked Colin Kaepernick in the first quarter to record his fifth sack of the season. … Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy sacked Kaepernick for a loss of nine yards for his eighth sack of the season, which is a career high. … Bucs linebacker Dekoda Watson had a career-high 11 tackles on Sunday to lead Tampa Bay. … Bucs linebacker Lavonte David had 10 tackles and forced his second career fumble on Sunday. … Bucs safety Keith Tandy had the first forced fumble of his career. … Former 49ers safety Dashon Goldson played well against his old team, recording eight tackles and breaking up two passes. … Bucs wide receiver Vincent Jackson had five catches for 58 yards and a touchdown and became the first Tampa Bay receiver to record at least seven touchdown catches in consecutive seasons since Joey Galloway (10 in 2005 and seven in 2006). …
WHICH BUCCANEERS WERE INACTIVE?The following Bucs were inactive against the 49ers: FB/RB Lonnie Pryor, SS Bradley McDougald, G Patrick Omameh, G Carl Nicks, LB Danny Lansanah, DT Gary Gibson and CB Deveron Carr.
The following 49ers were inactive against the Bucs: WR Quinton Patton, LB Nick Moody, G Ryan Seymour, DT Quinton Dial, G Mike Iupati, WR Jon Baldwin, TE Vance McDonald.
WHICH BUCS GOT HURT?• Bucs cornerback Danny Gorrer got hurt right before halftime but later returned.
• Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David was injured on his third quarter interception, which was negated by a penalty on defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. David missed most of the next 49ers series. He was replaced by Adam Hayward temporarily, but later returned.
• Bucs strong safety Mark Barron left the game in the third quarter with a left hamstring injury and did not return. He was replaced by Keith Tandy.
• Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was briefly shaken up in the fourth quarter, but later returned.
WHAT WILL UPSET GREG SCHIANO WHEN HE WATCHES THE FILM?• Tampa Bay allowed two third down conversions on San Francisco’s opening touchdown drive to help set the tone for the team’s woeful third down defense.
• Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy lined up in the neutral zone and negated an interception by Lavonte David in the third quarter.
• Tampa Bay’s defense could not get off the field on a 17-play field goal drive in the fourth quarter that consumed 10:27 off the clock. That drive put the Bucs down 23-14 with just over four minutes remaining in the game.
• Kick returner Eric Page didn’t get the right look on a fourth quarter kickoff, but decided to hand off to Russell Shephard anyways, and fumbled the ball at the Tampa Bay 2, which led to a scoop-and-score by 49ers running back Kendall Hunter.
WHAT’S UP NEXT FOR THE BUCS?Tampa Bay (4-10) travels to St. Louis to play the Rams (5-8) on December 22. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. ET and the game will be televised locally.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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 enjoys 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: [email protected]
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