The Buccaneer’s three-game winning streak came to an abrupt end when they faced the red-hot Carolina Panthers on Sunday. The Panthers defeated the Bucs 27-6, eliminating any chance at a non-losing record for Tampa Bay, falling to 3-9. Here are PewterReport.com’s unit game grades.
QUARTERBACKAfter earning the Rookie of the Month award in November while playing like a seasoned veteran, Mike Glennon looked much more like a rookie against the Panther’s top-notch defense. He completed 14-of-21 passes (66%) for 180 yards, one interception, and no touchdowns.
Glennon’s biggest mistake came when the Bucs were deep into Carolina territory in the second quarter. The Bucs were only down 7-6 and would take the lead with a field goal. Instead, Glennon fumbled the ball while trying to throw, turning the ball over. This was a huge momentum shift, and the Bucs were unable to gain any momentum from that point forward. Glennon also threw a bad interception on a deep ball that looked to come out of his hand oddly. It looked like his grip on the ball caused both of his turnovers in the game.
Similar to last week against the Lions, Glennon didn’t have much help from his offensive line or the run game. Glennon was sacked a career high five times, and was constantly under pressure. The offense was constantly being pushed back putting Glennon in very difficult third-down situations.GRADE= C-
RUNNING BACKSFor the second week in a row, the running game couldn’t really get going as the offensive line failed to open up any holes. Bobby Rainey ran the ball 17 times for 63 yards (3.7 yards per carry). Rainey was stopped at or short of the line of scrimmage on most of his attempts, but was able to break loose for a handful of decent runs in the third quarter before the score turned the Bucs offense one dimensional.
There wasn’t much Rainey could have done better to improve the run game this week. The offensive line was manhandled all game long by Carolina’s front four. And if there was ever an opening, the Panther’s linebackers quickly filled it up.GRADE= C
WIDE RECEIVERSVincent Jackson led the team with three catches for 75 yards, most of which came on a deep ball where Jackson ran right past two defensive backs. He was brought down by the ankles short of the end zone, which proved to be a huge stop as Glennon fumbled the ball a few plays later.
Tiquan Underwood, who had a career game last week, had a decent game on Sunday with three catches for 51 yards. The Bucs also had a third receiver in the mix for the first time in weeks, Chris Owusu, who had one catch for 20 yards.
The receivers didn’t have much time to get open as Glennon was constantly under pressure, but they played decently against Carolina’s tough defense. GRADE= B-
TIGHT ENDSWith Tom Crabtree out for the season, rookie Tim Wright is really the Bucs only weapon at tight end. Wright was only targeted three times and had two catches for 17 yards. But the Panthers (rightfully so) saw him as a real threat and had him double-teamed on most third down plays. Although his numbers this year aren’t consistent or anything too special, Wright could definitely develop into a quality tight end next season.GRADE= C
OFFENSIVE LINEThe offensive line had another tough matchup this week against the Panthers, who were without their best pass rusher Charles Johnson. Carolina’s front seven were dominant for the most part in both the run and pass game.
The offensive line gave up five sacks, which is a season high. Donald Penn had a rough game, getting beaten for at least one sack, Demar Dotson got completely run over by rookie defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, Davin Joseph had another holding penalty, and as a unit they were just unable to create any push in the trenches, which made the run game suffer. GRADE= D-
DEFENSIVE LINEAfter getting dominated in their first meeting, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said things would be different for the defensive line this time around, but this game was very similar to the one a month ago at Raymond James Stadium. McCoy in particular had a very disappointing game in what should have been a good matchup for him. He didn’t get any pressure and didn’t even show up on the stat line.In fairness to McCoy the Panthers were focused on stopping him with double teams often.
Defensive end Adrian Clayborn has had a good season, but did not have a good game on Sunday but was a non-factor against Cam Newton, who ran for 56 yards when Clayborn moved from the outside to rush up the middle. Clayborn ended the game with four tackles.
The only player on the defensive line to get pressure was defensive end Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, who was in Cam Newton’s face on one of his interceptions. Te’o-Nesheim ended the game with three tackles.
On the positive side, the front four did an excellent job stopping the inside running game. Jonathan Stewart was the Panther’s starting running back and had 14 carries for just 39 yards (2.8 average). GRADE= D
LINEBACKERSLavonte David was the defensive MVP once again on Sunday with nine tackles, one tackle for loss, one pass break-up, and one interception. David played like a Pro-Bowler and was really the only bright spot on the defense.
Mason Foster, who was returning from a concussion, also had nine tackles but didn’t make any splash plays. Jonathan Casillas got the start at strong-side linebacker and had six tackles.
The linebackers were used in several blitzes throughout the game that were extremely unsuccessful and almost always turned into a big gain for Carolina. The Panthers were very successful in countering the Bucs’ blitzes with screen passes all game long. Linebackers are often responsible for that containment, but because they were blitzing so much, they weren’t in position to stop these plays. This failure should be placed on the defensive coaching staff, not on the linebackers. GRADE= B-
SECONDARYThe failures of the secondary can also be connected to the bad play calling on defense. With the linebackers and safeties often blitzing and failing, it left the defensive backs with little help on the outside. Again, a lot of the blame should be placed on the coaching staff. However, there were definitely mistakes that rest on the player’s shoulders.
After a touchdown saving tackle on Came Newton, Dashon Goldson was caught completely out of position on a touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell. Either it was a miscommunication or Goldson simply lost LaFell behind him, either way it was a costly mistake.
Darrelle Revis, who just didn’t look right after not practicing due to groin injury, made a couple mistakes before leaving the game with another injury. He got burned by Ted Ginn Jr. on his touchdown catch. Ginn had him beat by about ten yards on the play. Revis also dropped what would have been an easy pick-six. Revis clearly wasn’t 100% and maybe shouldn’t have been in the game at all.
Mark Barron had a good game with a team-leading ten tackles. Barron was all over the field in both the run and passing game. Leonard Johnson, who had his best game of the season last week, had two tackles and a nice pass break-up early in the game. GRADE= C-
SPECIAL TEAMSRian Lindell, who missed two field goals last week, went two for three against the Panthers. He made one from 27 yards, and then barely squeaked in a 53-yarder. But he missed a 48-yard field goal that would have put the Bucs within two scores.
Eric Page had just one kickoff return for 26 yards and no punt returns.
The Bucs special teams did a great job on kickoff returns, not allowing Ted Ginn Jr. to pass the 20-yard line on either of his runs.
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