Restructured Deals Give Bucs “Tremendous” Cap Space

The Buccaneers generally do not make it a point to publicize the behind-the-scenes contract work that occasionally takes place with rostered players, such as restructured deals, and they rarely announce specific dollar figures on any contracts.  So when both WR Vincent Jackson and G Carl Nicks – the team’s two biggest prizes in last year’s free agency period – received restructured deals last week, the news was picked up by some news sources but it didn’t dominate the discourse surrounding the team.

Make no mistake, however: Those were significant moves for the Buccaneers.  That was clear when General Manager Mark Dominik brought them up on Monday, the first day of the team’s 2013 offseason after a season-capping win in Atlanta on Sunday.

“We had something we had happen here in the last couple days that maybe people missed out on or didn’t hear about,” said Dominik.  “We restructured a couple deals with Carl Nicks and [Vincent] Jackson, and that was ownership-directed, which I think is fantastic.  It continues to show the commitment from the Glazer family as to what they want to do and how they want to build this football team.” Continue reading

Tenth Sack Eludes Bennett, But He Gets Something Better

Mike Williams came up four yards short of his quest for his first 1,000-yard season as an NFL receiver on Sunday, but he nevertheless led the team with six catches for 65 yards and scored the touchdown that put the Buccaneers up for good.  It was a satisfying day for him, even without that fourth digit being added to his receiving total, because his team beat the NFC’s top seed, Atlanta, on their own home turf and he had a lot to do with that.

Michael Bennett feels the same way.  Bennett, the Buccaneers’ underrated left defensive end, came into the Buccaneers’ season finale needing one more sack to get to 10 on the season.  That was his “double-digit” goal, as it would have made him the first Buccaneer to reach that mark since Simeon Rice back in 2005.  As it turned out, Bennett was shut out in the sack category, but he and the Bucs’ front line put a lot of heat on QB Matt Ryan, and that was instrumental in keeping the Falcons to their lowest point total and second-lowest yardage total of the entire season. Continue reading

A Record-Setting Day

The Buccaneers accomplished their top goal on Sunday in their 2012 season finale at Atlanta, taking down their division rivals, 22-17, to finish Greg Schiano’s first season on a high note.  Perhaps they built momentum for the offseason; perhaps they learned a little about how to win; perhaps they gained confidence that they have the right building blocks on both offense and defense.  At the very least, they got one more victory to enjoy.

Secondary to that, but not unimportant, were a variety of team and individual records and milestones that could have been achieved Sunday…and many of them were.  Since we’ve been alerting you to the various record-book possibilities here in the Captain’s Blog for a few weeks now, it makes sense to run down exactly which records and notable achievements were reached on Sunday in Atlanta.  We’ll even take a look at a few numbers that didn’t quite fall, because they still add to the overall picture of what the Buccaneers were able to accomplish in 2012.

Without further ado: Continue reading

Buccaneers 22, Falcons 17 in Final Bucs Game of Season

After forcing the turnover-on-downs, the Buccaneers got possession with just over two minutes left, in great field position at the Falcon 33-yard line.

On first down, the Falcons were called with too many men on the field, giving the Bucs another first down and running the clock to the two-minute warning.

On the next play, fittingly, it was Doug Martin to seal the game for the Buccaneers. Martin took the handoff for 24-yards, battling his way to the five-yard line. The run brought him over 1,900 yards from scrimmage on the season, a phenomenal feat for the rookie running back.

Two runs later, the final whistle of the game blew and the Buccaneers were ready to head back to Tampa with a 22-17 victory.

The Bucs end the season with a 7-9 record, 3-3 in their division. It was the Falcons’ first homefield loss of the season. The Falcons played their starters throughout the game.

Josh Freeman ended the game with 19 completions on 35 passes. He has one touchdown, one interception and 222 yards.

WR Mike Williams led the team in receiving with 65 yards, just four short of 1,000 on the season. He had six catches, one of them for a touchdown. WR Vincent Jackson had three second-half catches for 50 yards. TE Luke Stocker had three for 50 as well.

Doug Martin had 142 yards on the ground on 28 carries. He also ran one in from 40 yards out. With 18 yards receiving, he ended the day with 160 yards from scrimmage.

K Connor Barth hit on three field goals, from 48-, 22-, and 42-yards out.

Defensively, Mason Foster led the team with 12 total tackles. Lavonte David had six and one sack. Daniel Te’o-Nesheim added the other Buccaneer sack. On special teams, Dekoda Watson registered a blocked punt that set up a Connor Barth field goal. It is his second block of the season.

For the Falcons, Matt Ryan ended the day with 238 yards passing and one touchdown. He completed on 28 of 44 passes.

WR Julio Jones led the team with 56 yards receiving, followed by RB Jacquizz Rodgers who had 50 yards on eight catches. WR Harry Douglas caught the touchdown pass on a fourth-and-goal attempt.

Rodgers also led the team rushing with five carries of 28 yards. RB Michael Turner had six carries for 18 yards, one of them a 17-yard touchdown.

Matt Bryant connected on a first-quarter field goal from 28-yards out.

Defensively, the team was led by Sean Weatherspoon with eight tackles. The Falcons did not register a sack in the game, but Asante Samuel did come down with an interception that set up the Turner touchdown run.

The Buccaneers end the season on a high note, snapping their losing streak and ending the season with a 7-9 record. Stay tuned for a complete list on all of the records that were also snapped in this game, including passing records from Josh Freeman and totals for the entire Buccaneer offense.

Buccaneers Make Big Defensive Stand

With seven minutes left in the game, with a five-point lead, the Buccaneer took over at their 20-yard line. They converted on one third down, but were forced to punt the ball back to the Falcons with 3:44 remaining in the game.

A big third-down conversion for the Falcons moved the chains, getting the Falcons to their 33-yard line with 2:24 left.

Two incomplete passes later it was another third-down attempt. Matt Ryan took a shot for Harry Douglas that fell incomplete. The Falcons went for it on fouth-down, knowing that just one series earlier they were able to score on a fourth-down play.

Ryan dropped back and let it go to his reliable tight end Tony Gonzalez. S Mark Barron was able to get a body on the tight end and a hand on the ball, forcing the incompletion and giving the Buccaneers the ball back in Falcon territory.

The Bucs have the ball at the Falcon 33-yard line with 2:02 left in the game.

Harry Douglas Fourth Down TD Makes it 22-17

The Falcons set up on their drive from their own 48-yard line after a Michael Koenen punt.

The Buccaneers and Da’quan Bowers got off to a great start on the drive. Bowers dropped Michael Turner for a loss of five on the drive’s first run. On the second play, Bowers got into the backfield and hit Matt Ryan for a seven-yard sack. That play was nullified by a defensive holding call on Ronde Barber, giving the Falcons a first down at the 48.

From there, Ryan completed four straight passes to bring the Falcons to the Buccaneer eight-yard line.

The defense stood call forcing an incompletion before dropping RB Jason Snelling for no gain. On third down, Ryan was pressured and the pass went over the head of intended receiver, Tony Gonzalez in the end zone.

The Falcons opted to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the eight. Ryan dropped back and hit a wide open Harry Douglas who caught the ball and took it in from the three-yard line.

The Buccaneers will get the ball with just over seven minutes left, still holding on to a five-point lead.

Bucs Answer Back on 40-Yard Doug Martin TD Run

Following the Michael Turner touchdown the Buccaneers drove 80 yards on four plays, capped by a 40-yard Doug Martin score. Following a failed two-point conversion attempt, the game is now Buccaneers 22, Falcons 10.

Martin opened the drive with a 10-yard first down run. He took it on the next play for three yards before Freeman found Vincent Jackson on a big gain over the middle, good for 27 yards.

At the Falcon 40-yard line, the handoff again went to Doug Martin, who broke a tackle and spun out to the left sideline where he outran the Falcon defense for a 40-yard touchdown.

The run took Martin over 100 yards rushing on the day, his fifth 100+-yard game of the season. Doug Martin is just nine yards short of a 1,900 yards-from-scrimmage season.

Turnover and Touchdown Make it 16-10, Bucs Lead

On a Buccaneer third-and-seven from their own 28-yard line, Falcon Asante Samuel cut off a Josh Freeman pass, picking it off and returning it 11 yards to the Buccaneer 21-yard line.

Two plays later, RB Michael Turner found the end zone on a 17-yard run up the middle, cutting the Buccaneers’ lead to six points.

After just three carries for two yards to start the game, Turner got 21 yards on two plays and the score.

The Buccaneers will start with the ball at their 20-yard line with just under four minutes left in the quarter.

Josh Freeman First Bucs QB Over 4,000 Yards

On the first pass of the third quarter, Josh Freeman found Mike Williams down the sideline for a 23-yard gain.

That pass brought Freeman over 4,000 yards on the season, making him the only Buccaneer quarterback in team history to do so.

In the game, he has also become the Buccaneers career-leading touchdown passer with his 78th touchdown and the Buccaneers’ single-season touchdown leader with his 27th touchdown pass of the year.

Barth From 42 Makes it 16-3 in Third Quarter

The Buccaneers have scored on their opening drive in each quarter of this ballgame. Once again, this one has come on the foot of Connor Barth. Barth connected from 42 yards out to make it a 16-3 game.

The drive began at the 20 yard line after a touchback and the offense got things rolling quickly. Josh Freeman his Mike Williams on his first pass for a 23-yard gain. Williams is now just four yards away from having a 1,000-yard season.

Freeman converted a third-down pass to Doug Martin over the middle to bring them into Falcon territory and WR Vincent Jackson caught his first pass of the day for 15 yards.

The drive stalled at the Falcon 24-yard line before Barth knocked his third field goal of the day. The Falcons will take over, down 13, with 10:52 remaining in the third.