Thursday, July 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Raiders-Buccaneers Turning Point, Week 8: Defense allows too many explosive plays

"O Fortuna" pumped through the stadium as Jameis Winston and his crew blasted fiery cannonballs toward an invading vessel.

The Buccaneers won the pregame battle on the video boards, but on the field Sunday, it was the Raiders who brought the explosives in a 30-24 overtime victory.

This was a game Tampa Bay should have won. It built a 10-point lead. It won the turnover battle. Its opponent set an NFL record for penalties.

RELATED STORY: The most galling things about the Bucs' loss

So how did the Bucs lose? The Raiders executed more big plays.

Oakland executed 11 explosive plays (pass plays of 25 or more yards or run plays of 10 or more yards). Tampa Bay executed two. The most the Bucs had allowed in a game this season was seven, in a win over Panthers three weeks ago.

On the Raiders' 11 plays, they gained 354 yards (274 passing, 80 rushing). On their other 64 plays, they gained 272 yards. Their 626 yards were the most the Bucs have ever allowed in a game.

Oakland quarterback Derek Carr finished with a team-record 513 yards on 59 pass attempts, but he gained more than half of those yards on just seven throws. That happens when a quarterback feels less heat from a defense than a fan sitting in Row V of Section 335.

Tampa Bay failed to generate pressure on three-quarters of Carr's dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus. When not under pressure, he completed 37 of 48 passes for 458 yards and a quarterback rating of 126.9.

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said that he thought the No. 1 reason for Carr's success was that the defense was on the field for too long. Winston's inconsistency and an ineffective run game contributed to that.

RELATED STORY: For the Bucs, this game will be remembered for missed opportunities and Winston's inaccuracy

There's another way to ensure that a defense isn't on the field for too long: prevent third-down conversions. In the first half, the Bucs allowed the Raiders to convert one of six third downs. But after the second quarter, they allowed them to convert six of 12.

Of those six third-down conversions, the Raiders converted four via an explosive play. One of those conversions — Carr's 34-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper in the third quarter — gave Oakland its first lead of the game.

Carr faced zero pressure on the play, but the coverage was just as much to blame. Cooper, lined up in the slot, ran right by safety Chris Conte.

Carr's pass to Cooper was one of six that he threw 20 or more yards down the field. He did most of his damage on short and intermediate passes, thanks in part to sloppy Bucs tackling. According to Pro Football Focus, Tampa Bay missed 12 tackles.

Whatever the causes of the explosive plays, the Bucs need to fix them quickly. In three days, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman arrive in Tampa for prime-time football. The Falcons offense has executed the second-most explosive plays this season.

Contact Thomas Bassinger at [email protected] Follow @tometrics.

Raiders explosive plays vs. Bucs defense

Quarter, timeDownLocationPlay
1, 2:50Second and 18OAK 17Pass to Mychal Rivera for 27 yards
2, 13:33Third and 6OAK 29Jalen Richard run for 20 yards
2, 10:21First and 10OAK 29Pass to Jamize Olawale for 68 yards
2, 4:13Second and 4OAK 24DeAndre Washington run for 28 yards
3, 13:44Third and 10OAK 25Pass to Amari Cooper for 28 yards
3, 5:38Third and 6TB 34Touchdown pass to Amari Cooper for 34 yards
4, 2:44First and 10TB 43Pass to Amari Cooper for 31 yards
4, 0:11Third and 10TB 45Derek Carr run for 13 yards
OT, 13:50Third and 3OAK 32Pass to Michael Crabtree for 45 yards
OT, 9:20Second and 5OAK 15Latavius Murray run for 19 yards
OT, 1:55Fourth and 3TB 41Touchdown pass to Seth Roberts for 41 yards

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