Every week the Buccaneers' season seems a little worse. It seems ages ago that the Bucs were sitting pretty at the top of the division with a 4-2 record, but after losing in a disheartening game to the Carolina Panthers the Bucs have dropped to 4-8 having lost six straight games. The result: the Bucs are ranked last in the division, and their chances at making the playoffs have all but evaporated.
As usual, the problems started in the first quarter. The Bucs allowed the Panthers to score touchdowns on both first possessions, while Tampa Bay could notch nothing more than one field goal in the first quarter. To make matters worse, both DE Tim Crowder and Aqib Talib had to leave the game with injuries and would not return.
The Bucs again failed to stop the run, both in the form of regular runs and in the form of Cam Newton scrambles. The Bucs allowed the Carolina Panthers to run for a total of 136 yards on 39 carries for a 4.2 per carry average. Certainly an improvement over last week, but hardly something to hang your hat on. Especially when you consider that they allowed Jonathan Stewart to go 50 yards on just two carries during the first drive.
With Josh Johnson at the helm, the Bucs offense never managed to get going. The Panthers were able to sell out against the run and the offensive line had a rare bad day run blocking against a very weak run defense. Legarrette Blount managed just 19 yards on 11 carries in the game, with Lumpkin getting two carries for one yard. Mossis Madu was a little more productive, managing 25 yards, while Johnson added 45 yards on scrambles, but that kind of production cannot be called a good running game.
And through the air, the Bucs were inconsistent. The Bucs managed a few big pass plays to Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn, but they couldn't pull together a complete drive. Instead the Bucs settled for field goals four times in the first half, while managing one touchdown to Dezmon Briscoe in garbage time.
Meanwhile the pass defense, hurt by the absence of Aqib Talib, could not contain Newton. The rookie quarterback threw for 204 yards and one touchdown, but he added 54 yards and three touchdowns on the ground and even notched a 27-yard reception on a trick play.
Despite that, a few Buccaneers showed positives: Da'Quan Bowers had a monster game, notching 1.5 sacks, 5 tackles for loss and a pass defense. Adrian Clayborn added a half sack and two quarterback hits, and Mike Williams continued to climb out of his slump by going over 80 yards for his third consecutive game.
But overall, the Bucs played poorly and lost their composure once again. They had another nine penalties for 73 yards, with Brian Price causing the most egregious penalty: a 15-yard personal foul for a post-play altercation after a third-down stop. Raheem Morris was so distraught, that he sent Brian Price home after the play. Yes, after all the penalty issues the Bucs have had this year, Morris finally snapped on Brian Price's personal foul.
And all that happened on the day former Bucs TE Jimmie Giles was inducted into the Ring of Honor. This season is starting to look uglier every day, and those throwback uniforms for the first time in three seasons did not help.