Bucs-Lions: Scenes from Ford Field

Eight games into his time as Bucs starting quarterback, rookie Mike Glennon is developing a winning formula, passing less and limiting his mistakes while continuing to throwing the deep ball on the way to surprising victories. "I thought Mike Glennon did a very good job of taking care of the football," coach Greg Schiano said. "He was fierce and held onto the football and didn't force it. He took the shots when they were there and hit the deep hole, which we needed to do. That was about the way we were going to be able to win that game, and the guys played their guts out." On a day where Detroit's Matthew Stafford threw four interceptions, his most since his rookie year in 2009, it was Glennon who finished without an interception for the fifth time in six games. Add an 85-yard touchdown to Tiquan Underwood for the winning margin, and Glennon finished an effective 14-for-21 for 247 yards and two touchdowns, giving him a Bucs rookie record of 13 for the season. "That's a great front four," Glennon said of Detroit, which sacked him four times. "I believe they're second in the league against the rush, so we knew it was going to be a challenge going into it. We knew we were going to have to hit our shots. We were going to have to hit our plays in the pass game and be effective as an offense, and we did that." Glennon's numbers in the past six games: 10 touchdown passes and just one interception, while completing 64 percent of his passes. He leads all rookie QBs with 13 touchdowns, two more than Josh Freeman's Bucs rookie record set in 2009.

Through their first nine games, the Bucs had just one play of 40 yards or longer. But their recent big-play success continued Sunday, with more than half their total offense coming on two deep passes to receivers Tiquan Underwood and Vincent Jackson. The biggest proved to be the winner as QB Mike Glennon found Underwood in stride for an 85-yard touchdown, easily the longest of the rookie quarterback's career and the difference in the 24-21 victory. "We've been saving that one. We felt that we were going to have it, and they gave us the exact look we were waiting for," said Glennon, who also connected with Jackson on a 47-yard pass in the second quarter. That deep ball to Jackson — his third grab of 40-plus yards in the past two games — set up a touchdown to Underwood and gave the Bucs a 10-7 lead. "We try to take our shots each and every week. Mike throws a great ball, and I think we'll continue to do that," Jackson said. Underwood hadn't caught a pass longer than 30 yards in more than a year, but he caught the deep ball from Glennon and then pushed away from CB Chris Houston and broke away for the longest play of his NFL career. It's the fourth-longest pass play in Bucs history — Josh Freeman hit Jackson for a 95-yard pass last season, and Vinny Testaverde had touchdowns of 89 and 91 yards to Willie Drewrey in 1990-91. "We got the coverage we were looking for, and Mike put the ball on the money. He threw a great pass," Underwood said. "From there, it was all she wrote. It happened so fast. I just caught it and just tried to run away. I just kept running."

Momentum shifted sharply to the Bucs just before halftime, when CB Leonard Johnson picked off a Matthew Stafford pass and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown and a 17-14 lead. Johnson, a former Largo High star, anticipated a dump-off pass to TE Brandon Pettigrew and jumped the route. Pettigrew ducked as he didn't see the pass coming, Johnson picked it off, eluded Stafford, then made a diving flip into the end zone.

"I saw it and jumped the route and picked it off, took it in," said Johnson, who also had a pick-six last year against the Chargers. "Our coach said earlier in the week that it was going to take everybody on the back end to step up and play the best game we can possibly put together. He called us out and told us we need to step up to the challenge." Johnson had one of five takeaways, and following LB Mason Foster's touchdown last week against Atlanta, the Bucs have touchdowns off interceptions in back-to-back games for the first time since the 2003 season. Stafford hadn't thrown more than two picks in a game this season and hadn't thrown four in a game since his rookie year in 2009. "We made five takeaways. I've never been a part of anything like that," Johnson said. "Our defensive line played phenomenal. The quarterback was out of the pocket the whole game. We came up big."

Quick hits

. The Bucs trailed the Lions in just about every offensive category (25-10 in first downs, 72-49 in plays, 390-229 in total yards, 104-22 in rushing yards, 33:22 to 26:38 in time of possession) but won the all-important turnover battle 5-0.

. After rushing for 163 yards in last week's win over Atlanta to earn NFC offensive player of the week honors, Bobby Rainey was held to 35 yards on 18 carries.

. LB Lavonte David extended his lead as the team's top tackler, adding another 12 Sunday to run his season total to 99 (S Mark Barron is second with 72). He also added an INT, tying five other Bucs with two for the year.

. Penalties continue to plague the Bucs, who had nine (for 67 yards) to run their league-leading total to 94.

. Detroit came in as one of the league's toughest teams on third down on offense and defense, but they lost despite more of the same Sunday. The Bucs went just 4-for-14 on third downs — after converting twice on their early drive that netted a 3-0 lead — and allowed Detroit to go 8-for-15, as well as a conversion on fourth and 1.

. Converted LB Dekoda Watson, working his way into the rotation at defensive end, came through with one of the team's two sacks. Detroit had allowed just 16 in its first 10 games.

Special teams key again

. For the second week in a row, the Bucs' special teams came up with a blocked punt in the second half, with CB Danny Gorrer getting this one to help Tampa Bay hold on for the victory. "We saw something and (special teams coach Dave Wannstedt), when he sees something, he definitely calls it up," said Gorrer. "I believed in my technique and I just went." Gorrer gave credit to teammate Dekoda Watson, who had a blocked punt last week and drew enough blockers as a result that Gorrer was untouched coming off the left end, getting to punter Sam Martin. FB Spencer Larsen picked up the loose ball and returned it 11 yards to the Detroit 11-yard line. "Dekoda made the whole left side clear, and I just ran through the smoke," said Gorrer, who missed the first seven games and the last two with a groin injury. The Bucs couldn't convert the blocked punt into points as Rian Lindell missed a 35-yard field goal, but on Detroit's next possession, Gorrer was in coverage on WR Kris Durham, who fumbled as he went out of bounds. The ball stayed in play and Kelcie McCray recovered.

"I really don't know what I did," Gorrer said. "I know I pushed him, but where the ball came out, I'll take it for what it is."

. Detroit had a 21-17 lead and was driving in the third quarter when S Keith Tandy repeated his biggest play of the season: a drive-killing goal-line interception, just like he had at Seattle on Nov. 3. "I couldn't believe it," said Tandy, who stepped up in the middle and made a leaping interception on a pass intended for Calvin Johnson at the 1-yard line, returning it to the 17. "It felt like the ball came right to me." Lions QB Matthew Stafford called the pass "not the best decision" after the game, saying he should have thrown the ball away once he saw the coverage. Tandy said the Bucs had anticipated the play and were ready for it. "We were in the red zone, and I was trying to disguise the coverage," Tandy said. "We had seen them setting the play up for a while like on film. (Johnson) looked like he was wide open so (Stafford) threw him the ball and I broke on it." Tandy's first career interception came off Russell Wilson in Seattle, keeping alive a potential Bucs win, and his interception Sunday helped the Bucs shut Detroit out in the final 24 minutes. Detroit had driven from its 20 to the Bucs 25 but came away empty thanks to Tandy's play. "The corner knew the safety was going to be in the middle of the field. He trusted I was going to be there," Tandy said.

Wright fills hole at tight end with career game

. In a game full of players stepping up because of injuries, the Bucs got a career-high eight catches from TE Tim Wright, who played a bigger role after starter Tom Crabtree was lost to an arm injury. Wright was busy from the start, catching Mike Glennon's first four completions on a first-quarter drive that gave Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead. Three catches converted third downs, including a 7-yard grab on third and 5 and a 16-yard catch on third and 6. "I had to step up and be that guy. They were double-covering a couple of our guys, so when that happens, somebody's open," said Wright, a converted receiver who made the team as an undrafted rookie out of Rutgers. "When the ball is in the air and my number is called, I just feel like I have to go get it for my team." Wright's 16-yard grab came literally on his back across the middle, and he now has 34 catches for 366 yards and two touchdowns, ranking second behind WR Vincent Jackson in all three statistical categories. Crabtree, who missed the first month of the season with a high ankle sprain, left the game early and did not return. The severity of his injury is unknown. Tight ends Luke Stocker and Nate Byham were already put on injured reserve.

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Through their first nine games, the Bucs had just one play of 40 yards or longer. But their recent big-play success continued Sunday, with more than half their total offense coming on two deep passes to receivers Tiquan Underwood and Vincent Jackson. The biggest proved to be the winner as QB Mike Glennon found Underwood in stride for an 85-yard touchdown, easily the longest of the rookie quarterback's career and the difference in the 24-21 victory. "We've been saving that one. We felt that we were going to have it, and they gave us the exact look we were waiting for," said Glennon, who also connected with Jackson on a 47-yard pass in the second quarter. That deep ball to Jackson — his third grab of 40-plus yards in the past two games — set up a touchdown to Underwood and gave the Bucs a 10-7 lead. "We try to take our shots each and every week. Mike throws a great ball, and I think we'll continue to do that," Jackson said. Underwood hadn't caught a pass longer than 30 yards in more than a year, but he caught the deep ball from Glennon and then pushed away from CB Chris Houston and broke away for the longest play of his NFL career. It's the fourth-longest pass play in Bucs history — Josh Freeman hit Jackson for a 95-yard pass last season, and Vinny Testaverde had touchdowns of 89 and 91 yards to Willie Drewrey in 1990-91. "We got the coverage we were looking for, and Mike put the ball on the money. He threw a great pass," Underwood said. "From there, it was all she wrote. It happened so fast. I just caught it and just tried to run away. I just kept running."

. A week after ending a run of 13 successful field-goal attempts, Bucs K Rian Lindell struggled again Sunday, missing two kicks in the fourth quarter. Lindell, who hadn't missed over a span of six-plus games before last week, barely missed on a 35-yarder midway through the fourth quarter. The kick was close enough to the left upright that Bucs coach Greg Schiano threw a red flag to challenge the officials' ruling, but such a play is not reviewable. On the Bucs' next possession, QB Mike Glennon was sacked for an 8-yard loss on third down from the Lions 25. With less than four minutes remaining and a three-point lead, Schiano had the confidence to send in Lindell for a 50-yarder, which would have matched his longest kick over the past three seasons. Lindell's kick was long enough but again sailed wide left, setting up Detroit at the Bucs 40-yard line, needing 25 yards for a tying field goal. Detroit reached the Tampa Bay 26, then S Kelcie McCray knocked the ball loose from WR Calvin Johnson and CB Johnthan Banks grabbed the clinching interception. Lindell, signed by the Bucs after he was cut by Buffalo in preseason, made 13 of his first 15 field goals with the team, but he's just 3-for-6 in the past two games, with two misses coming on kicks of 50 yards or longer.

Momentum shifted sharply to the Bucs just before halftime, when CB Leonard Johnson picked off a Matthew Stafford pass and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown and a 17-14 lead. Johnson, the former Largo High star, anticipated a dumpoff pass to tight end Brandon Pettigrew and jumped the route. Pettigrew ducked as he didn't see the pass coming and Johnson eluded Stafford, then made a diving flip into the end zone.

"I saw it and jumped the route and picked it off, took it in," said Johnson, who also had a pick-six last year against the Chargers. "Our coach said earlier in the week that it was going to take everybody on the back end to step up and play the best game we can possibly put together. He called us out and told us we need to step up to the challenge." Johnson had one of five takeaways, and following Mason Foster's touchdown last week against Atlanta, the Bucs have touchdowns off interceptions in back-to-back games for the first time since the 2003 season. Stafford hadn't thrown more than two picks in a game this season and hadn't thrown four in a game since his rookie year in 2009. "We made five takeaways. I've never been a part of anything like that," Johnson said. "Our defensive line played phenomenal. The quarterback was out of the pocket the whole game. We came up big."

Quick hits

. The Bucs trailed the Lions in just about every offensive category (25-10 in first downs, 72-49 in plays, 390-229 in total yards, 104-22 in rushing yards, 33:22 to 26:38 in time of possession) but won the all-important turnover battle 5-0.

. After rushing for 163 yards in last week's win over Atlanta to earn Offensive Player of the Week honors, Bobby Rainey was held to 35 yards on 18 carries.

. LB Lavonte David extended his lead as the team's top tackler, adding another 12 Sunday to run his season total to 99 (S Mark Barron is second with 72). He also added an INT, tying five other Bucs with two for the year.

. Penalties continue to plague the Bucs, who had nine (for 67 yards) to run their league-leading total to 94.

. Detroit came in as one of the NFL's toughest teams on third down on offense and defense and lost despite more of the same Sunday. The Bucs went just 4-for-14 on third downs — after converting twice on their early drive that netted a 3-0 lead — and allowed Detroit to go 8-for-15, as well as a conversion on fourth and 1.

. Converted LB Dekoda Watson, working his way into the rotation at defensive end, came through with one of the team's two sacks. Detroit had allowed just 16 in its first 10 games.

Special teams key again

. For the second week in a row, the Bucs' special teams came up with a blocked punt in the second half, with CB Danny Gorrer getting this one to help Tampa Bay hold on for the victory. "We saw something and (special teams coach Dave Wannstedt), when he sees something, he definitely calls it up," said Gorrer. "I believed in my technique and I just went." Gorrer gave credit to teammate Dekoda Watson, who had a blocked punt last week and drew enough blockers as a result that Gorrer was untouched coming off the left end, getting to punter Sam Martin. FB Spencer Larsen picked up the loose ball and returned it 11 yards to the Detroit 11-yard line. "Dekoda made the whole left side clear, and I just ran through the smoke," said Gorrer, who missed the first seven games and the last two with a groin injury. The Bucs couldn't convert the blocked punt into points as Rian Lindell missed a 35-yard field goal, but on Detroit's next possession, Gorrer was in coverage on WR Kris Durham, who fumbled as he went out of bounds. The ball stayed in play and Kelcie McCray recovered.

"I really don't know what I did," Gorrer said. "I know I pushed him, but where the ball came out, I'll take it for what it is."

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. Detroit had a 21-17 lead and was driving in the third quarter when S Keith Tandy repeated his biggest play of the season: a drive-killing goal-line interception, just like he had at Seattle on Nov. 3. "I couldn't believe it," said Tandy, who stepped up in the middle and made a leaping interception on a pass intended for Calvin Johnson at the 1-yard line, returning it to the 17. "It felt like the ball came right to me." Lions QB Matthew Stafford called the pass "not the best decision" after the game, saying he should have thrown the ball away once he saw the coverage. Tandy said the Bucs had anticipated the play and were ready for it. "We were in the red zone, and I was trying to disguise the coverage," Tandy said. "We had seen them setting the play up for a while like on film. (Johnson) looked like he was wide open so (Stafford) threw him the ball and I broke on it." Tandy's first career interception came off Russell Wilson in Seattle, keeping alive a potential Bucs win, and his interception Sunday helped the Bucs shut Detroit out in the final 24 minutes. Detroit had driven from its 20 to the Bucs 25 but came away empty thanks to Tandy's play. "The corner knew the safety was going to be in the middle of the field. He trusted I was going to be there," Tandy said.

Wright fills hole at tight end with career game

. In a game full of players stepping up because of injuries, the Bucs got a career-high eight catches from TE Tim Wright, who played a bigger role after starter Tom Crabtree was lost to an arm injury. Wright was busy from the start, catching Mike Glennon's first four completions on a first-quarter drive that gave the Bucs a 3-0 lead. Three catches converted third downs, including a 7-yard grab on third and 5 and a 16-yard catch on third and 6. "I had to step up and be that guy. They were double-covering a couple of our guys, so when that happens, somebody's open," said Wright, a converted receiver who made the team as an undrafted rookie out of Rutgers. "When the ball is in the air and my number is called, I just feel like I have to go get it for my team." Wright's 16-yard grab came literally on his back across the middle, and he now has 34 catches for 366 yards and two touchdowns, ranking second behind WR Vincent Jackson in all three statistical categories. Crabtree, who missed the first month of the season with a high ankle sprain, left the game early and did not return. The severity of his injury is unknown. TEs Luke Stocker and Nate Byham were already put on injured reserve.

Bucs-Lions: Scenes from Ford Field 11/24/13 [Last modified: Sunday, November 24, 2013 11:16pm]

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