Friday, December 15, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs scenes: Stuff run, pressure QB, run to history

You could say that the Bucs defense held the Bills' two-headed running attack — No. 4 in the NFL at 139 yards per game coming in — to a season-low 67 yards on 22 carries, but Buffalo RB Fred Jackson is more blunt. "We just didn't get the job done today," Jackson said after totaling 12 yards on five carries in a 27-6 Bucs victory. "Bottom line, we did not play well. You go back and look at film, I can't think of anything we did right. … As a team, we looked absolutely horrible today, and the score showed it." • The Bucs came in with a healthy respect for Jackson and C.J. Spiller, the NFL's only pair of 600-yard rushers heading into the weekend. Spiller had just 22 yards on 11 carries Sunday. • But it was Tampa Bay that ran for 80 yards on its second play and dictated the game on defense. "They played good on defense," Spiller said. "They played with more passion, more energy and they just beat us." • Tampa Bay entered the game ranked 12th in the NFL in rush defense, holding opponents to 106 yards per game. They'll need a similar effort next week, when San Francisco comes to town with the NFL's No. 7 rushing offense. • Bucs S Dashon Goldson pointed to the Bills' lack of a consistent running game as why Buffalo struggled to convert on third down (1-for-11), and he credited the Bucs' team aspect on defense for setting that up Sunday. "Swarming," Goldson said. "Just getting guys on the ground, putting our face on people and not allowing them to break tackles."

So much of the talk entering Sunday's game was how Buffalo led the NFL with 43 sacks, but it was the Bucs defense, 28th in sacks coming in, that stole the spotlight, piling up a season-high seven sacks. "We're just finishing plays, making the plays we weren't making before," said DT Gerald McCoy, who had his seventh sack, good for the team lead. "We were in position before." • Seven Bucs players had a hand in sacks Sunday: blitzing defensive backs Darrelle Revis and Mark Barron each had one, as did LB Lavonte David. Rookie DE William Gholston had one of his own and split another with DE Da'Quan Bowers, and DT Derek Landri had his first sack since 2011. • "We got there a couple times; actually, a lot of times. Just followed the game plan," said DE Adrian Clayborn, who added a tackle for loss. "When we all play together and play sound, we can't be beat." • Sunday's seven sacks were as many as the Bucs had totaled in their previous five games combined, including all three previous wins. Tampa Bay opened the year strong, with five and four sacks in the first two games, but it hadn't had more than three in any game since. • Asked about Buffalo's offensive line play Sunday, Bills C Eric Wood said it had more to do with the scoreboard than the Bucs defense. "Bad," he said, "but you show any offensive line that played good when you're down 21 points in the second quarter and I'd love to see it. You let a talented front tee off on you, play after play, they're going to get home. … That's generally how it works."

. Sunday was a busy day for the officials at Raymond James Stadium. There were 19 penalties for a combined 190 yards and a pair of reversals on official reviews. The most controversial was when Bucs WR Vincent Jackson's 14-yard touchdown with 11 seconds left in the third quarter was overturned on official replay. Jackson jumped and caught a Mike Glennon pass along the back of the end zone, and it looked as if the toes of both feet came down in bounds, while his left heel appeared to touch out of bounds. "If it's a normal step, he has to get both in, whether it's toe-heel or heel-toe," referee Bill Vinovich said. "If he's dragging or tapping, then we'll just give him the toe, but if it's the normal step process, both have to be in." The ruling kept the Bucs' third-quarter scoring woes going. Take away two games against Atlanta and Tampa Bay has been outscored 56-6 in the third quarter this year. The only touchdowns of the period came in the two Falcons games. K Rian Lindell hit a 32-yard field goal after the reversal for the Bucs' only second-half points. Flags played a significant role in the game. Buffalo had an 83-yard touchdown catch by RB C.J. Spiller negated by a holding call, and the Bucs appeared to get the benefit of a 6-yard offside penalty for a first down on third and 6 on the touchdown drive just before halftime. Even when calls went Buffalo's way, they didn't. A challenge on an incomplete pass in the third quarter was overturned on replay, giving the Bills a 9-yard gain and first down. The Bills, however, had back-to-back false starts, then Bucs CB Darrelle Revis popped a completed pass loose and LB Lavonte David intercepted it for the Bucs' fourth pick of the game.

Jackson goes from uncertain to unstoppable early

. There was a question last week about whether WR Vincent Jackson would play Sunday, as he was limited in practice because of a hamstring injury. But Jackson started and starred early in the victory. Jackson had three catches for 70 yards, all on Tampa Bay's third possession, including a 38-yard touchdown grab. In doing so, Jackson eclipsed 1,000 yards for the season for the third consecutive year, two with Tampa Bay, and for the fifth time in his career. Jackson wasn't available for comment, but his teammates praised his effort. "You can't ask for more from a guy that's out there playing hurt and having the type of game he had," LT Donald Penn said. "He's having a Pro Bowl season but kind of getting overshadowed by our record." Jackson, like fellow WR Tiquan Underwood, had zero catches in the second half. But Jackson, who also drew two pass-interference calls, had a 14-yard touchdown reversed after an official review late in the third quarter. "Vincent really showed up," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "Again, just big-boy football, in that end zone, just getting (the defender) off. I mean, the guy held him, almost dragged him down, but he still caught it."

. Statistically, it wasn't Bucs QB Mike Glennon's best game. He had season lows for yards and completion percentage, and he had his first two-interception day since his debut. But he also threw two touchdown passes, outplaying fellow rookie EJ Manuel of the Bills (19-for-33, 184 yards, four interceptions). "Some of those balls I would like to have back, but we'll see what happened (on video)," Glennon said after his fourth win of the season. "They're a really good defense, leading the league in sacks, and to only give up one sack shows how well our offensive line did." Glennon had touchdown throws to WR Vincent Jackson and TE Tim Wright in the first half, but he finished just 9-for-25 passing (36 percent) after hitting at least 50 percent in each of his first nine starts. His 90 yards are a season low. His two interceptions gives him four turnovers in his last two games after totaling just one interception in the six games before that. "We did pull in the reins a little in the second half," coach Greg Schiano said when asked about Glennon's game. "The one interception, Vincent fell down, so that's a tough one. But the other interception, he'd like to have that throw back." Glennon's two touchdown passes were two more than Buffalo's Manuel, a rival of Glennon's from high school and college. Glennon helped N.C. State upset Florida State and Manuel just last year. Manuel's four interceptions doubled his season total coming into Sunday and demonstrated the importance of young quarterbacks limiting mistakes. Glennon already has the team's rookie records for touchdown passes (15) and passing yards (2,052), and Sunday was his sixth game with multiple touchdown passes, two more than any other rookie quarterback in Bucs history.

Bucs DT Gerald McCoy said LB Adam Hayward came up to him before the game with a prescient prediction: "Somebody has to make a big play early in the game to get the spark," Hayward said. On the game's second play, RB Bobby Rainey delivered, racing 80 yards for a touchdown. It was the longest run in Bucs history and the fastest score, just 18 seconds in. "We couldn't have scripted it any better," LT Donald Penn said. "It really punches the other team in the gut; it really sets the tone." It was a simple inside zone run play to the left, with FB Erik Lorig kicking out and blocking the defensive end, and Penn taking on a linebacker. Rainey sprinted behind them, broke a tackle at the 25-yard line and another with a move just before the end zone. "It was a great feeling," Rainey said. "Everybody had a part in it." Rainey, who had 47 yards on his other 21 carries (127 total), said it felt good to be a part of history, and Penn was proud because they haven't had such a long run this year. "I was running down, like, 'Please don't get caught, please don't get caught!' " Penn said. And the touchdown provided momentum. "It sparked us," McCoy said. "It's like, 'The offense is doing that, let's not ruin it.' "

Standing up to Bills

. The Bucs knew they had a daunting task Sunday in facing a Bills defense that led the league with 43 sacks. Coach Greg Schiano said they had to be on their "A game" to handle Buffalo's touted front, which often disguises its scheme with movement before it disrupts. And Tampa Bay's offensive line passed the test, allowing just one sack of rookie QB Mike Glennon for 9 yards. Veteran RG Davin Joseph gave Glennon credit for getting his throws off quick, avoiding the rush and making sure the unit was on the same page after recognizing the blitz packages. But it also took one of the better all-around games from the offensive line, with help from the tight ends and running backs, to get the victory. "All year we've been playing up and down," LT Donald Penn said. "(Sunday) it felt like everything was rolling; everything was going well." Said Glennon: "Our offensive line played great."

Late-strike force

. Late in the second quarter, the Bucs had built 17-3 lead over Buffalo, but they were still left with a sense of missed opportunities. Five straight drives started at their 46-yard line or better, but the Bucs had only three points to show for it. With 4:46 left in the half, however, the Bucs had an opportunity to put the game out of reach, and did so with the help of two Buffalo penalties on third downs, all setting up Mike Glennon's 5-yard touchdown pass to TE Tim Wright with 15 seconds left in the half. The Bills first helped the Bucs on a third-and-5 play near midfield, with a neutral-zone infraction that gave Tampa Bay a first down. Then came a third and 15 at the 40-yard line, when Glennon's pass to Wright fell incomplete, but Bills S Jairus Byrd was flagged for roughing the passer, setting the Bucs up with a fresh set of downs at the 25. From there, Glennon did the rest, converting on third and 6 with a 16-yard pass across the middle to Wright to put them at the 5. Two plays later, Glennon found Wright in the back of the end zone, and the two rookies continued what has been an impressive connection this season. Wright's only two catches came on those two plays, but they sent the Bucs into halftime with a 24-3 lead and momentum firmly in hand. "Timmy Wright, again, came up with a big third-down conversion," coach Greg Schiano said. "We're finding ways to win the game."













   
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