. If you were wondering who in the world Chris Pressley is and why he got a handoff on third and 1 at the Carolina 3 in the second quarter, you weren't alone.
Coach Raheem Morris and offensive coordinator Greg Olson didn't realize Pressley, left, was on the field.
The play, a fullback dive, was intended to be run with Earnest Graham, who has undertaken fullback duties since B.J. Askew was lost for the season to a car accident. But because the ball was at the 3, an assistant who wasn't identified went with the "heavy" personnel grouping. Olson was unaware until just before the ball was snapped.
"When we realized it was (Pressley), it was too late. That shouldn't happen because it was Earnest Graham's play. When we realized, 'Hey, this isn't the personnel we wanted in the game,' we probably should've called timeout."
Instead, Pressley, a 5-foot-11, 260-pound rookie signed off the Bengals' practice squad Oct. 28, was stopped for no gain.
And instead of first and goal, the Bucs were left to kick a 21-yard field goal that cut their deficit to 10-3 and mull what went wrong.
"It was a good move by a young personnel (coach) to send in Pressley thinking 'pound the rock,' " Morris said. "Pressley runs that (play), too. He's a fullback. It's not a big deal that he was in there.
"We'd prefer it to be Earnest Graham, but it wasn't."
Trueblood's costly hit
. Down 10-3 early in the second quarter, the Bucs reached the Panthers 20 on WR Antonio Bryant's 20-yard catch. QB Josh Freeman then found Bryant for a 3-yard gain.
But after Bryant hit the turf, RT Jeremy Trueblood came barreling into CB Richard Marshall. Because the unnecessary roughness penalty came after the whistle, the Bucs faced second and 22 at the 32 instead of second and 7 at the 17. Trueblood said there was no intent on his part.
"I wish I would have known he was down," Trueblood said. "You never know what's going on. I couldn't see. I'm not the most athletic guy in the world. When I'm running, I've got my eye on one guy and one guy only (the guy I'm blocking). If I would have known, it's a no-brainer, and I wouldn't have done it. It was a mistake, obviously."
A costly one, too.
The Bucs couldn't pick up a first down and had to settle for a 46-yard field goal by K Connor Barth.
Trueblood was flagged for a personal foul last week at Atlanta — for which he was fined $7,500 — and his propensity for costly penalties is drawing the ire of his coach.
"That's just unacceptable," said Raheem Morris, who took Trueblood out of the game immediately after the penalty. "It's happened week after week after week. He's got to learn his lesson, or he's got to be ready to sit next to me."
Smith goes deep
. For most of the game, the absence of injured CB Aqib Talib was not obvious. The secondary did a decent job of keeping the Panthers' passing game — led by backup QB Matt Moore — in check.
But two plays after QB Josh Freeman's fourth interception, with 10:04 left in the game, the Panthers picked the right time to go to the air. Moore hit WR Steve Smith for a 66-yard gain to the 13 that set up K John Kasay's 23-yard field goal.
CB Elbert Mack was in one-on-one coverage because S Tanard Jackson had responsibility for the underneath routes. Mack seemed to slip ever so slightly coming out of his break, but it was enough for Smith to get deep.
"It was a coverage where you try to protect against (a deep pass), but (Smith) just made a great play," Jackson said. "He just threw it up and allowed his franchise player to make a play."