Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Joe Smith and Greg Auman

Bucs come up short after Josh Freeman's slow start

9

December

Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman’s halftime stat line did not look like the handiwork of a franchise quarterback: 5 of 16 for 61 yards with two sacks.

Most important was what those numbers don’t indicate: the scoreless opening two quarters that were largely a result of Freeman’s struggles. There was no masking things for Tampa Bay’s fourth-year passer.

“Early on, I missed a couple (throws) down the field just by small margins,” Freeman said. “We wanted to get something going early on and we were unable to do that. . . It was frustrating because I felt we had a great plan. It was just we didn’t have the execution.”

For as much as the Eagles’ final scoring drive will be debated and regretted, the Bucs offense’s inability to do anything worth mentioning in the first half loomed just as large.

“We were taking shots and trying to throw it down field and then one (throw) to Vincent (Jackson) was out front of him,” Freeman said. “The one to Mike (Williams), the (defender) jumped up and made a play on it. If you hit a couple of those, you really have something going. But I thought our defense did a great job holding them to 10 points. But you definitely have to come out and play better in the first half and score more points.”

Answers were elusive. Freeman looked, at times, the way he did in arguably his worst game of the season: Against the Cowboys on Sept. 23.

“It just seemed like he wasn’t himself, wasn’t in sync,” coach Greg Schiano said. “Then he made some throws that make you say, ‘Oh, there he is.’ We as an offensive football team didn’t play the way we are capable of playing.”

Freeman made enough plays in the second half to give the Bucs a chance. He finished 14 of 34 for 189 yards and two touchdowns, Jackson having a big day along the way (six catches, 131 yards).

“We didn’t do enough today,” Freeman said.

[Last modified: Sunday, December 9, 2012 7:48pm]

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