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First-half bad for Bucs offense

Bucs K Patrick Murray: two field goals, three extra points
Bucs K Patrick Murray: two field goals, three extra points
Published Nov. 2, 2014

TAMPA — As the first half of the Bucs' 2014 season comes to a close Sunday, a major factor in Tampa Bay's 1-6 record has been, well, the first half of their games.

To illustrate the Bucs' first-half offensive struggles this season we enlist the help of Broncos stars Julius Thomas and DeMaryius Thomas. Each of the two Denver players has scored more points than the Bucs in the first half this season. Wide receiver Julius has six touchdowns, good for 36 points, and tight end DeMaryius has five, good for 30.

The Bucs, offense and defense together, have scored a total of 27 points before halftime in their seven games.

That's three touchdowns and two field goals. And if you don't remember them, it's because Tampa Bay hasn't scored any first-half points since Oct. 5, when the Bucs got 10 points in the final two minutes of the half against the Saints.

It works out to 3.9 first-half points per game, and that's lower than any NFL team has averaged in at least a decade. Of course, the next-worst first-half team in the league in that span is another Bucs squad — the 2006 team averaged just 5.2 points in the first half on the way to a 4-12 record.

What's even stranger about the Bucs' scoring is that in the second half, they're the NFL's fourth-best scoring team, averaging 15.1 points. And in the fourth quarter, they're the No. 2 team in the league, averaging 9.7, behind only the Saints.

Some of that is garbage points — 17 against the Ravens after trailing 38-0 at halftime, 14 against the Falcons after trailing 56-0. But the Bucs also scored 21 in the second half in nearly beating the Saints, and 17 after halftime in their lone win at Pittsburgh.

Making matters worse is the Bucs' first-half defense, which is giving up a league-high 18 points per game. So through seven games, the Bucs have trailed by an average of more than two touchdowns coming out of halftime.

Some hedy goes heyer

When the Bucs signed veteran offensive lineman Oniel Cousins to a one-year deal in March, the online responses from fans of his old team in Cleveland was consistently, resoundingly negative.

"Quite possibly the worst offensive lineman I have ever seen," was one comment on Dawgsbynature.com. "If he actually plays, McCown/Glennon will end up in the hospital. Do we play Tampa Bay this year?"

They do, today, in Cleveland. And Cousins could very well step in as the starting left tackle as Anthony Collins did not practice this week due to a foot injury.

Cousins, 30, has made a good career as a backup lineman, with nine career starts in six previous seasons. ProFootballFocus.com rated him 71st out of 81 NFL guards last season, and he competed for a starting guard job with the Bucs in preseason, losing out when the Bucs traded for Pro Bowl veteran Logan Mankins.

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The Browns haven't totaled more than three sacks in any game this season, so the challenge for the Bucs' offensive line — and Cousins — is to make sure that doesn't change.

The only other backup lineman who's been active this season is guard Garrett Gilkey, who was cut by the Browns in preseason and has split time with right guard Patrick Omameh in the last three games. He only played four snaps last week and was flagged for holding on two of them.

If Cousins is starting, there's a good chance rookie tackle Kevin Pamphile will be active for the first time as his backup. Smith said that while the sixth-rounder hasn't played, he's showed progress in the last two months in practice.

"Some of the things we saw from the draft: athletic guy that can move well, very good strength," Smith said. "But he's a young, green player with that word 'potential' right now."

Some hedy goes heyer

Most encouraging aspect of the Bucs' game at Cleveland? They're facing an AFC opponent.

Tampa Bay plays three times as many games each year against NFC opponents, and yet in their recent history, they have as many, if not more, wins against the AFC.

This year, of course, their lone win has come at Pittsburgh (AFC)- while going 0-5 against NFC teams. Last year their first win came against Miami and their most dominating win came against Buffalo, both in the AFC. And since the start of 2013, the Bucs are 3-3 vs. AFC teams and 2-15 vs. NFC teams.

Take it back another year and the Bucs went 3-1 against the AFC in 2012, so from the start of that season, they're 6-4 against the AFC, 6-23 vs. the NFC.

Perhaps it's that AFC opponents don't know the Bucs as well, or perhaps the team is simply offering a nod to their roots. Tampa Bay began its existence in the AFC West in 1976 (going 0-14 there) before moving to the NFC Central in 1977, where they would stay until the current NFC South was created in 2002.

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Robert Herron(AZoomHerron), on the play at the bottom of ninth in game 7 of world series)

3

+

6 points

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30 points

12 points

9 points

36 points

OR

+

PROJECTED STARTERS

BUCS

OFFENSE

WR Vincent Jackson 83

LT Anthony Collins 73

LG Logan Mankins 70

C Evan Dietrich-Smith 62

RG Patrick Omameh 66

RT Demar Dotson 69

TE Brandon Myers 27

WR Mike Evans 13

QB Mike Glennon 8

RB Doug Martin 22

TE A. Seferian-Jenkins 87

DEFENSE

DE William Gholston 92

DT Gerald McCoy 93

DT Clinton McDonald 98

DE Michael Johnson 90

SLB Danny Lansanah 51

MLB Mason Foster 59

WLB Lavonte David 54

LCB Alterraun Verner 21

RCB Johnthan Banks 27

SS Mark Barron 23

FS Dashon Goldson 38

SPECIAL TEAMS

P/KO Michael Koenen 9

PK Patrick Murray 7

LS Andrew DePaola 48

KR/PR Trindon Holliday 11

VIKINGS

OFFENSE

WR Greg Jennings 15

LT Matt Kalil 75

LG Charlie Johnson 74

C John Sullivan 65

RG Vladimir Ducasse 62

RT Phil Loadholt 71

TE Rhett Ellison 85

WR Cordarrelle Patterson 84

QB Teddy Bridgewater 5 RB Matt Asiata 44

FB Jerome Felton 42

DEFENSE

DE Brian Robison 96

DT Sharrif Floyd 73

DT Linval Joseph 98

DE Everson Griffen 97

SLB Anthony Barr 55

MLB Jasper Brinkley 54

WLB Chad Greenway 52

LCB Captain Munnerlyn 24

RCB Xavier Rhodes 29

SS Robert Blanton 36

FS Harrison Smith 22

SPECIAL TEAMS

P/KO Jeff Locke 18

PK Blair Walsh 3

LS Cullen Loeffler 46

KR C. Patterson 84

PR Marcus Sherels 35

Injury report

BUCS : Out — LB Brandon Magee (knee). Questionable — LB Jonathan Casillas (hamstring), T Anthony Collins (knee), S Dashon Goldson (ankle), WR Vincent Jackson (rib), QB Josh McCown (right thumb), S Keith Tandy (hamstring). Probable — CB Johnthan Banks (neck)

VIKINGS: Out — TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen, groin). Doubtful — LB Gerald Hodges (hamstring). Questionable — G Vladimir Ducasse (knee), S Antone Exum Jr. (ankle), CB Josh Robinson (ankle). Probable — DT Sharrif Floyd (ankle), TE Chase Ford (foot), CB Jabari Price (hamstring), S Harrison Smith (ankle), C John Sullivan (concussion), DE Corey Wootton (back)

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