The Buccaneers played the game of Jekyll and Hyde that has become their signature. After getting crushed in the first half 17-0 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came out in the second half and won the game 24-20. Josh Freeman led the Bucs on yet another 4th quarter comeback. Instead of starting the season 0-2 with the Atlanta Falcons coming to town next week we’re 1-1 and really seemed to find ourselves again.
The first half of the game the Buccaneers gained 62 total yards. Legarrette Blount gained a total of 4 yards on 5 carries and the Bucs did not even cross the 50 yard line into Vikings territory. Freeman was sacked on the Bucs first play from scrimmage and the offensive line looked completely overmatched.
The Buccaneer defense could not slow down Adrian Peterson as he ripped them for 83 yards and 2 touchdowns before the half. That opened the passing game for McNabb and the Vikes offense and as abysmal as McNabb looked last week, he looked invigorated and alive this week throwing for 153 yards before halftime.
Then came the second half and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came alive.
The first series in the second half the Bucs defensive line got instant penetration and forced a 3 and out. On the ensuing drive the man affectionately known as LGB finally woke up. So did the Buccaneers offensive coordinator Greg Olsen. Blount wanted the ball and Olsen fed him the ball. As a result Blount ended up with 13 carries for 71 yards and 2 touchdowns. If anyone is counting that is 7 carries for 67 yards and 2 touchdowns in the second half.
Blount wasn’t the only one. The whole team was fired up and played with an attitude that was sorely lacking in both week 1 and the entire first half of the game today.
Even still the Buccaneers had put themselves in a big hole to start so they needed every bit of that 2nd half to catch up. The Bucs scored on their first drive of the 2nd half with a 27 yard LGB rush. Then in a huge show of bravado Raheem Morris called for an onside kick which the Buccaneers recovered. On the following possession the Buccaneers drove it down to the red zone but a terrible Josh Freeman interception in the endzone ended that threat.
The next time the Bucs got the ball they drove down deep into Vikings territory and almost closed the gap to 3 points on a beautiful pass from Freeman to Mike Williams. However that touchdown was nullified by an illegal shift penalty and the Bucs had to settle for a field goal that cut the lead to 7 points.
On the ensuing Vikings drive they went deep into Buccaneer territory but our defense toughened up at the right time and held the Vikings to a field goal.
Now with just over 9 minutes to go in the 4th quarter it was Freeman time. Josh Freeman took the game over and drove the Bucs down into Vikings territory. He then connected with Rejus Benn on a 25 yard pass. That touchdown made it 17-20 with just over 6 minutes to play.
The Bucs then forced a punt on the next Vikings possession setting up the Bucs final drive. Freeman converted a key 3rd down pass to Preston Parker, who had a monster game with 6 catches for 98 yards, to keep the drive alive and on the next play Blount took the rock into the endzone for his second touchdown of the day. That gave the Bucs the lead with just over 30 seconds to play.
On the kickoff Harvin bobbled the kick pinning the Vikings deep in their own territory with just seconds to play. One final play the Vikings tried passing short and advancing the ball via laterals but the play stalled at midfield.
This game really was the tale of 2 halves. The Buccaneers really seemed to find themselves in the second half. Their line was blocking with a purpose. Their defense was playing mean. Blount was running downhill and hard. Freeman displayed the 4th quarter heroics he’s quickly becoming known for. In short, the first half was pretty much our worst nightmare. (A replay of the 2009 season playing over and over.) The second half was everything we expected to see out of this team during the off season. They were explosive on offense, aggressive on defense and resilient.
Next week we get the Falcons at home. The question is which Bucs team will show up. Jekyll or Hyde?