The Bucs were ready to take on the next step of the development process. This meant that getting a win against another bad team and not waiting 9 weeks for our first win was imperative. Losing to the Browns would have left us at the bottom of the barrel, yet again. On what may have been expected to be a sloppy game because of the looming weather, a bad thumb on Freemans throwing hand and first game jitters, there was plenty of great things that happened this afternoon that the team can hang their hat on.
The game started off with a 33 yard drive but the offense soon stalled for much of the first half with the exception of a beautiful scramble by Josh Freeman in which a block by Mike Williams spurred him for 30+ yards. I thought Freeman had one or two nice throws, but was wildly inaccurate. Under-threw some open receiver, lofted some balls well past deep men and badly over-threw a ball to Spurlock that was picked off.
The defense allowed an early score on a 49 yard pass from Delhomme to Muhammed Massaqui. Tanard Jackson made a play for the ball with no help behind him and missed. The truth is TJack made a High School JV mistake. He had Biggers underneath. Biggers responsibility is absolutely going for the ball. Jackson is responsible for making a hit, either separating the WR from the ball or making the tackle. For the defense a bad first half of confused zone coverage by the safeties, terrible tackling by the OLB and down-right atrocious run support by the CB's was salvaged by an interception via Ronder Barber on a terribly thrown ball as Delhomme was getting hit by Stylez White. 3 Seasons ago, Barber probably would have scored on this interception but was instead chased down by Peyton Hillis.
The half ended, for the most part, on a Josh Freeman touchdown to Mike Williams. While Freeman had to scramble in the pocket and was under a mild amount of pressure, it was a poorly thrown ball as it was well behind the intended target . Let's face it; The Bucs got lucky because a tipped pass by the Cleveland defender ended up in Mike Williams making an acrobatic and wonderful snag for 6.
However, it was a tale of two halves. Raheem Morris made some brilliant adjustments that completely shut the (sparse) run game that had gained 83 Yards and a Score down in the second half. In fact, the Bucs allowed only 123 yards of total offense in the second half. The opening drive for the Browns ended in a fumble on a well placed hit by Ruud and there was also a last minute desperation drive which netted 33 yards. It was a nice performance, albeit against the Browns.
Freeman hit a few more targets in the second half, but also missed (by a mile) a WIDE OPEN Sammie Stroughter running a deep corner route that would have resulted in an easy 6, a couple more open WR before throwing a beautiful strike to Michael Spurlock. Honestly, that's how the whole game went for Freeman. About 2-3 Bad/Terrible throws for a good one. Luckily, they resulted in only 1 turnover. It's hard to tell how much the thumb was bothering him. If it was, which I imagine it would after seeing pictures, he didn't show any signs of discomfort or pain. Some of the ball, especially his INT looked as if he floated it instead of putting some zip on it. To put that extra heat, it's really necessary to squeeze with the thumb.
I would also give props to Greg Olsen for calling a good game. The only questionable decision he made to me was on the final drive when we had the chance to put Cleveland away. He called a naked bootleg on a 4th & 1. Freeman had a man open but saw pressure an panicked. He did the wise thing by just taking a sack. Fault can hardly lie with Freeman though. I get that they are going to stack a box and a naked bootleg gives you more of a chance. However, it also gives you more of a chance to make a crucial error. A play like that can easily result in a fumble with nobody around to make the tackle or an Interception with nothing but green in front of the defender. It was way too high of a risk for too small of a reward. Again, Freeman made the right decision by taking the sack (even though he had a guy open) but you can't put the quarterback in a situation like that. That play could have easily cost us the game and Olsen would be the goat.
Hard to give a gameball out. Probably would go to Mike Williams for make several difficult and timely catches but could go to a number of players; EJ Biggers had a HUGE 4th quarter breaking up a couple of passes and making a very key interception. After the first half Geno Hayes and Quincy Black had a performance for them to mimick from here on out. Barrett Ruud, while he won't get credit he deserves, played a tremendous game. He filled gaps forcing runners to get tackled in the backfield, made some good tackles and forced an interception by filling a gap and laying the wood on Peyton Hillis. Talk about a collision sport, those are two physical individuals meeting at the LOS. OKLAHOMA Drill style. That's what I love about football. Spurlock had some very good returns (some marred by penalties) a TD catch and a couple other short, but good catches.It's also hard not to mention Carnell Williams. He had 75 yards on a hard fought 22 carries. He took a beating today, but powered through it. He broke off several 8-10 yard runs. While he didn't find the end zone, he definitely battled and helped lead the team to victory.
Again, while there was a TON of room for improvement there is some great things to take from this game not the least of which is not having to wait until Week 9 for our first W.
For the first time since 2005, Your Tampa Bay Buccaneers are an undefeated 1-0! How 'bout em Bucs!