Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs instant analysis: Ugly, but effective

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Even before the season, when you looked at the Bucs' schedule, this game seemed like it was waiting for a big fat letter L next to it. In other words, a sure-fire loss.

A Monday night? On the road? Against the defending NFC champs? No way.

Yet, as this game unfolded, it was absolutely there for the taking for Tampa Bay. And that's just what the Bucs did. They took it.

It wasn't pretty. It wasn't crisp or clean or tidy. But it's a win, something the Bucs desperately needed after coming in with a three-game losing streak.

Beat up by injuries, especially up front on defense, Tampa Bay played with heart and grit and the result was a victory. Suddenly, a 2-3 record doesn't look all that bad when you consider how it looked surely set up to be 1-4. And, it's always easier to go into a bye week with a win than a loss.

Here's a look back with some random thoughts from Monday night's 17-14 last-second victory.

• Like we said, it wasn't pretty. The Bucs could have gone into halftime with a 21-0 lead. Or, maybe, 17-0. Heck, at the very least, a 13-0 lead. Instead, what was it? Only 6-0. That's what happens when you settle for field-goal attempts instead of touchdowns and you miss field goals instead of making them. Then, wham bam, just six minutes into the second half, the Bucs were trailing 7-6.

• The Bucs will miss injured running back Charles Sims, for sure. But not as the featured back. With Doug Martin out, Tampa Bay's best option is Jacquizz Rodgers. Sims is good as a third-down, pass-catching, occasional change-of-pace back, but Rodgers is more suited to pound the rock. He pounded it for 101 yards Monday. The offense runs much smoother with Rodgers replacing Martin. Of course, no one really replaces Martin. The best hope for the Bucs offense to get back into gear is with Martin back in action. Until then, Rodgers was pretty darn good.

• Roberto Aguayo's struggles continue. The kicker — you know he was a second-round pick, right? — missed two easy field goals. The first from 33 yards would have given the Bucs a 6-0 lead in the second quarter. Granted, the Bucs should have punched in a touchdown on that drive. (They took over at the Carolina 30 after recovering a muffed punt.) But when you line up for a 33-yarder, that has to be automatic. Especially for a second-round pick. Unfortunately, nothing is automatic with Aguayo. But the killer was a 46-yard miss with 3:33 left that would have given Tampa Bay a 17-14 lead. He was drafted specifically to make those kicks. And he missed. Unacceptable.

Unless he makes a winner, right?

• Carolina quarterback Derek Anderson, filling in for the injured Cam Newton, had way too much time to throw the ball Monday, and that's something the Bucs will need to fix. Then again, hard to jump on the Bucs for failing to generate much of a rush. Gerald McCoy is hurt. Robert Ayers is hurt. Still, Mike Smith's defense didn't do a whole lot to put pressure on the backup QB.

• A missing piece to the Bucs puzzle this season has been takeaways. Not so Monday. The Bucs had four takeaways — twice as many as they had coming in — and that, as much as anything, sparked Tampa Bay's victory. The biggest of all? Cornerback Brent Grimes picking an Anderson pass in the end zone with the scored tied at 14 and 8:39 left. The only nit? The four takeaways resulted in only three points. On the positive side, it did stop the Panthers from scoring.

• Great final drive. Started off conservative. Then showed some real guts. Final total: 11 plays, 66 yards in the final 1:49. That's gutsy stuff.

Bucs instant analysis: Ugly, but effective 10/10/16 [Last modified: Monday, October 10, 2016 11:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays Tales: The stories behind Corey Dickerson's ascension

    The Heater

    The 25 pounds DH/LF Corey Dickerson lost during the winter through diet and exercise are considered the primary reason for his ascension to one of the American League's most productive hitters, going into the weekend leading in hits, multi-hit games and total bases, and ranked in the top five in average, runs and …

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) connects for a sac fly, scores Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Steve Pearce (28) in the fourth inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
  2. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting


    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  3. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  4. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp …

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.