Detroit Lions - Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-20 - Bucs get curbstomped early, can't come back

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 11: Chris Houston #23 of the Detroit Lions makes an interception against Arrelious Benn #17 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the season opener at Raymond James Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked like amateurs in the first half, especially on offense. The defense got off to a sloppy start, though, as they allowed 71 yards on 12 plays on the first drive, but they hunkered down in the red zone to hold the Lions to 3 points. Sammie Stroughter then gave the offense the ball deep inside Lions territory, but the Bucs went nowhere and got held to a field goal. 

After Aqib Talib scored on a pick-six on a tipped Matthew Stafford pass, the Bucs collapsed. On offense, the Bucs followed up another 3-and-out with an interception, another 3-and-out and a field goal to end the half. Meanwhile, the defense gave up a field goal and two touchdowns to end the first half. When the first half was over the Lions led 20-13, but they had accumulated 16 first downs to the Bucs' seven. The Lions held on to the ball for nearly 22 of 30 minutes. The Bucs defense was very tired toward the end of the half, leading to two easy touchdowns for the Lions.

The Bucs needed to make some major halftime adjustments, and they did, but it didn't really create an effect. The Bucs offense ran a hurry-up offense throughout the second half, but still didn't get much going early on. A three-and-out was followed by another touchdown drive by the Lions, capped off by Calvin Johnson's second touchdown catch of the day. 

After that the Lions were held to punts only, as they tried to run out the clock, and did so pretty successfully. It was up to the Bucs offense to get a touchdown then, and they did manage to put together a number of good drives. Unfortunately, one ended when Earnest Graham was stuffed on fourth&one inside the redzone. The Bucs managed to score a touchdown on their next possession, but had only 1:35 and two timeouts left to score another. 

Calvin Johnson recovered the ensuing onside kick, but a three-and-out and a dumb unnecessary roughness penalty by Lions tackle Gosder Cherilus gave the Bucs a little hope. The Bucs' final drive stalled at the 42-yard line, however, and the final play was a succession of laterals which failed because there was no Stanford Band on the field. 

The failure to run the ball on offense led to a grand total of five carries for Legarrette Blount, who managed just 15 yards in total. When the Bucs got behind they largely abandoned the run, except for shotgun draws with Earnest Graham which also went nowhere. Blount couldn't get anything going early on, and simply wasn't on the field later on. Josh Freeman was once again the Bucs' leading rusher with 26 yards on 4 attempts. 

In the passing game Josh Freeman made up for a poor start with a good second half, ending up with 28 completions on 43 attempts for 257 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Earnest Graham was the Bucs' leading receiver with 8 catches for 58 yards. Both Kellen Winslow and Mike Williams had good games, catching six passes for 66 yards and four passes for 50 yards and a touchdown respectively. With Sammie Stroughter leaving the game early Preston Parker showed up, catching four passes for 44 yards. 

The Bucs start out 0-1, and this is not the start they wanted to this season. They have a lot of work to do if they want to be a legitimate playoff contender. They need to fix both their pass defense and their run defense, while their offense needs to learn to start off quickly. 

There is a silver lining, though: the Bucs are still in first place in the NFC South for now and will continue to be in first place throughout the week if the Carolina Panthers lose to the Arizona Cardinals later today. 

Injuries:

Josh Freeman went out with what was said to be a leg cramp. He left for the locker room and returned after missing one series. 

Sammie Stroughter left with an ankle injury in the first half and did not return. 

Brian Price left with a hamstring injury in the second half and did not return. 

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