Buccaneers Take Lead on Mike Williams Touchdown

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have retaken the lead, thanks in large part to some big plays by TE Luke Stocker.

The drive began at the Buccaneer 36 after the defense forced the second Falcon punt of the day. Doug Martin lost a yard on the first drive, but did make his presence felt on the next three plays through the play action game.

On play action passes, Josh Freeman connected with Stocker on the next two plays, forst for a gain of 17 where Stocker shows his athleticism hurdling a defender. On the next play, Freeman faked the handoff and rolled to the right before turning and passing to Stocker across the field for a 26-yard gain. With 50 yards already, Stocker has reached a new single-game career high.

On the next play, another play action led to a Freeman completion to FB Erik Lorig, setting the Bucs offense up at the 11-yard line. After two runs, the Bucs were on a third-and-seven from inside the 10-yard line when Freeman dropped back for the pass. He bought some time with his legs before stepping up and hitting WR Mike Williams in the back middle of the end zone. Williams got both feet down and gave the Bucs a one-touchdown lead.

Mike Williams has four receptions on the day for 35 yards and a score. The TD pass is Freeman’s 27th of the season, a Buccaneer-single season record. It is also the 78th of his career, making him also the Buccaneers career leader, passing Vinny Testaverde’s 77.

Buccaneers vs. Falcons: First Quarter Stats

The Buccaneers and Falcons close out the first quarter all tied up at three apiece. Connor Barth hit a field goal on the Bucs’ first possession of the game from 48 yards out. On the next Falcon possession, Matt Bryant nailed one from 28 yards to tie the game.

Josh Freeman has hit six of his nine passes for 58 yards. Mike Williams leads Bucs’ receivers with three catches for 27 yards. Doug Martin is off to a quick start with five carries good for 29 yards and one catch of seven yards.

Defensively, E.J. Biggers leads the team with four tackles. Both Lavonte David and Michael Bennett have recorded a quarterback hit on Matt Ryan.

For the Falcons, Matt Ryan has connected on six of his nine throws for 64 yards. Roddy White has three catches of 30 yards while TE Tony Gonzalez has 15 yards on one catch. RB Jacquizz Rodgers has one carry of 16 yards, while Ryan has scrambled twice for 11.

Both Asante Samuel and Thomas DeCoud have two tackles. Three Falcons have deflected passes.

The Buccaneers start the second quarter on fourth-and-two from their own 45-yard line.

Matt Bryant Ties Game with 28-Yarder

The Falcon’s offense answered the Buccaneers’ score successfully, driving to the Buccaneer 10-yard line before settling for the field goal.

The Falcons have been rotating all three of their running backs throughout the game. On this drive, RBs Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling got things rolling for Atlanta.

Rodgers took a first down run 16 yards before Snelling gained 16 of his own on a run then pass reception. After a 10-yard completion to Roddy White, the Falcons were set up on the Bucs’ 16-yard line with a first down.

On the first play, Lavonte David fought his way into the backfield and got to the arm of Matt Ryan forcing the incompletion. On the second play, Ryan was flushed out of the pocket on a big rush from Gerald McCoy. The ball was thrown away, short of the line of scrimmage, but was called as not intentional grounding after further review as a receiver was in the area. On third down, Ronde Barber stopped a Ryan scramble that set up the 28-yard field goal.

The Buccaneers will go back on the field with just over two minutes remaining in the quarter.

Connor Barth Knocked One Through, 3-0 Bucs

After forcing a punt on the Falcons’ opening possession, the Buccaneers offense took over from their own 10-yard line.

Josh Freeman got of to a quick start, hitting on his first two passes, both of them to Mike Williams, bringing them out past the 30-yard line. On the ensuing first-and-10, Doug Martin got his first carry for four yards and got the first down himself on a screen pass good for seven.

Doug Martin found the hole and brought the ball upfield 19 yards on his second carry of the game, bringing the Buccaneers past midfield. With one more carry, Doug Martin touched the ball on four straight plays, gaining 34 yards.

A short completion to Mike William and a batted pass brought K Connor Barth onto the field for a 48-yard field goal try that made it through the uprights.

The Buccaneers take the early lead 3-0 with 6:24 left in the first quarter.


Buccaneers vs. Falcons Kickoff

The final game of the Buccaneers’ season is underway. Buccaneer captain Josh Freeman, Vincent Jackson, Adam Hayward, Gerald McCoy, Ronde Barber and Andrew Economos took to mid field for the coin toss.

The Falcons won the toss and elected to receive. A high pop-up kick was returned by Jacquizz Rodgers only to the 15-yard line where the Falcons offense will take over.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons: Inactives

In just under one hour, the Buccaneers will open their final game of the season against the Atlanta Falcons. Here is a list of today’s inactives for both teams.

Atlanta Falcons: QB Dominique Davis, CB Christopher Owens, S William Moore, C Joe Hawley, G Phillipkeith Manley, G Harland Gunn & DT Travian Robertson.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Eric Wright, RB Michael Smith, LB Jacob Cutrera, G Roger Allen, WR Chris Owusu, DT Corvey Irvin DT Matthew Masifilo.


Learning to Win

The Buccaneers under Greg Schiano purposely view each game as its own one-week “season,” refusing to let the developments of one Sunday affect the preparations of the following week.

Week 17 is a little bit different.

That doesn’t mean Schiano’s crew prepared any differently, or dwelled on last week’s loss to the Rams, but this is one case in which a game’s result might have a more lasting effect.

It’s the old “finish strong” idea, the notion that a win to cap the season, even if it doesn’t lead to the playoffs, can provide momentum heading into the offseason.  It’s not a quantifiable thing, of course, but many Buccaneer players suggested the idea of finishing strong as an extra motivation this week.  The Bucs, once 6-4 and feeling robust about the playoffs, obviously believe they are better than their current five-game losing streak would indicate, and they can prove that to themselves in a small way on Sunday.

Schiano sees a slightly more concrete advantage to finishing the season with a win.  He knows that the most lasting lessons are learned on game day, and that there aren’t too many of those to go around.

“Any time you have an opportunity to get better at winning football games, which this is – you’ve got 16 of them this year and this is another chance to go win a football game – whenever you can do that, you get better,” said Schiano.  “When you don’t do that, somehow, someway you slip back.  We have a chance to do it today and I really think it’s important to go out and win the game.  The way you do that is trust your training and play one play at a time.”

Uncharacteristic Red Zone Woes Doom Bucs

Heading into Week 16 of the 2012 NFL season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had fielded the third most efficient red zone offense in the entire NFL, trailing only the vaunted attacks in New England and New Orleans.  Red zone efficiency is measured by touchdown percentage – that is, when a team penetrates the opposing 20-yard line, how frequently does it then take it all the way in for six points?

Again, this has been a strength for the ’12 Buccaneers, who had a 65.9% TD rate in the red zone through their first 14 games.  The Patriots stood at 68.8%, the Saints at 68.1%.  Only five NFL teams even hit the 60.0% plateau.  Unfortunately, Tampa Bay’s inside-the-20 numbers took a hit on Sunday against the St. Louis Rams, and the direct result was a 15-point loss. Continue reading

St. Louis Rams 28, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13

The St. Louis Rams will be heading home with the victory, defeating the Buccaneers 28-13.

The Buccaneers were the first team to put points on the board after a nearly 10-minute drive ending in a Connor Barth field goal. Barth hit a second field goal in the second quarter and Mike Williams scored from 61 yards out on a pass from Freeman in the third.

Josh Freeman ended the day hitting 30 of 54 passes for 372 yards. He had one touchdown and four interceptions. Freeman’s touchdown pass was his 26th of the season, tying a Buccaneer record. It is also the 77th of his career, tying the franchise record as well.

RB Doug Martin ended the day with 62 yards rushing on 18 carries. He added seven receptions for 57 yards. Freeman also ran the ball four times for 18 yards.

WR Mike Williams led the way for receivers with seven catches for 132 yards, he scored the only Buccaneer touchdown of the night. This game is Williams’ career-high in yardage for a single game. Vincent Jackson also broke the 100-yard mark, ending the day with seven receptions for 108 yards. It is the second game of the season that both receivers have broken 100.

Defensively, Danny Gorrer had the highlight of the game as he intercepted a deep pass from Sam Bradford on their first drive of the game. LB Lavonte David led the team with 9 tackles, all of them solo. He added a pass deflection and tackle for a loss, one of the five by the Buccaneers’ front. Gerald McCoy ended the game with two QB hits.

For the Rams, QB Sam Bradford had 196 yards passing with two touchdowns and an interception. He completed just 13 passes all game. One of his touchdowns went for 80 yards to TE Lance Kendricks.

RB Steven Jackson led the charge for the rushing game, carrying the ball 19 times for 81 yards and a score.

TE Lance Kendricks led the team with 119 receiving yards and a score on four catches. WR Chris Givens has 38 yards on three catches while Brandon Gibson had 33 yards on two grabs. WR Austin Pettis had one catch for five yards that ended up in the end zone for the score.

Four Rams had interceptions on the day, CB Janoris Jenkins caught the first, returning it 41 yards for a touchdown. DE Eugene Sims, LB James Laurinaitis and CB Trumaine Johnson also had INTs. Three Rams had double digit tackles, LB Laurinaitis, S Quintin Mikell and LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar.

Mikell also added a sack on Josh Freeman while DE William Hayes added two and DE Chris Long and DT Kendall Langford had one apiece.

The Buccaneers will close their season on the road in Atlanta next week. On Saturday night, the Falcons clinched home-field advantage and a first-round bye for the playoffs in their defeat of the Detroit Lions.

Bucs Miss on Red Zone Opportunity

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made it down to the Rams’ seven-yard line on a big pass from Freeman to Vincent Jackson for 46 yards.

After three incompletions, down by 15, the Buccaneers opted to go for it on fourth down from within the 10-yard line for the second time today. Freeman completed the pass to Doug Martin who was tackled short of the line at the three.

Jackson’s catch puts him over 100 for the day. This is the second game of the season that both Jackson and Williams have broken the 100-yard mark.

The Bucs turned it over on downs, and the Rams will begin from the three-yard line.