Against the Patriots, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were led to the slaughter in the first quarter. The Bucs gained no first downs and were penalized five times. Worst of all, they allowed touchdown on all three Patriots possessions, making for a 21-0 score after one quarter. The Bucs outscored the Patriots 14-10 the rest of the way.
This kind of slow start underscores a problem the Bucs suffered from last year: an inability to perform well in the first quarter. Throughout the 2010 season the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scored just four first-quarter touchdowns, but allowed ten first-quarter touchdowns by opponents. All in all, they were outscored 73 to 43 in first quarters last season.
The Bucs were able to make up for this in the second quarter and through halftime adjustments, but if they want to take the next step the Bucs need to start dictating games from the start. Fourth-quarter comebacks are exciting and all, but I'd much prefer blowout victories. Scoring early and often allows a team to dictate the flow of the game, and the Bucs too often were unable to do that last season, even against inferior opposition.
The problem lies on both sides of the ball. The Bucs defense couldn't stop a nosebleed in first halves, but looked stellar in second halves. They allowed 199 total points in first halves last season, while allowing 116 in second halves (and another 3 in overtime...ugh). Too often missed assignments turned into points in first halves. The Bucs need to fix that problem, but with two rookie starters (Adrian Clayborn and Mason Foster) that could prove difficult. If the Bucs can't get off to fast starts, making the playoffs will be very hard this season.