The Offensive Offense:
Tampa actually started the game off in positive fashion, effectively driving down the field to the New England 21 yard line. Kicker Rian Lindell then took the wind out of the team's sails by missing the subsequent 38 yard field goal. It was a rough miss, and many fans will be upset with him after the big miss last week. Greg Schiano also appeared to lose faith in him, as he elected to go for it later on on 4th and 13 rather than let Lindell attempt a 52 yarder.
The Bucs appeared to lose all momentum after a New England defensive back clearly held Mike Williams in the first quarter when the offense seemed to be clicking. The refs seemed loath to call a penalty on the Patriots towards the beginning of the game, as the hold was a no-call as was a direct helmet to helmet hit on a defenseless Mike Williams.
Vincent Jackson didn't help out Josh Freeman even before his injury, as he had two key drops that would have lead to much needed first downs. Doug Martin was about the only thing going, and he was held relatively in check. Running well, but mostly contained and unable to break any big plays.
Schiano, in opposite mode from his conservative ways the past two weeks, actually did go for it on 4th down twice in the first half while just out of field goal range rather than punt. Progress! Unfortunately they were unable to convert either. Freeman hurt the team immeasurably by not being careful with the ball in the team's last second bid for points in the first half, as he threw an interception to Aqib Talib (equal value to William Gholston) which gave the Patriots a chance to put up a 53 yard field goal to close out the half.
Once Jackson went out in the second half, the offense looked abysmal. At no point did the Bucs even threaten to score. About the only thing positive to take away from this offensive performance is Doug Martin doesn't seem to be regressing, Mike Williams managed to get back on the field towards the end of the game, and Schiano might have changed his conservative tendencies.
The Decapitating Defense:
First: the positive. The Bucs defense looked outstanding to start the game. Before the offense failed to give them adequate time to rest between series the defense forced Brady and company to punt on their first three possessions. They also managed to go the whole game without trying to separate anyone heads from their body. I don't think there was a single personal foul penalty called. Yay!
Johnthan Banks got owned by Tom Brady today. I may be mistaken, and it will have to be confirmed by watching film, but it appeared he was responsible for allowing both touchdowns to Kenbrell Thompkins, and he also allowed his man to get open numerous times on which Brady converted third downs. This is why you don't start rookie corners, and the fact that this was the plan going into the season is piss poor decision making.
The pass rush remained strong, as the defense brought down Brady three times, bringing their total sacks on the season to 12. Mark Barron also had a key interception on Tom Brady in what would ultimately be for nothing as the offense rewarded his great play with a three and out.
The defense still looked strong. A credible second corner (like Eric Wright, or Aqib Talib) and this defense makes a run for the best in the NFL. I didn't notice Goldson making any plays in the middle of the field on passing plays, and I can't help but wonder rather than change his angle of attack if he's become too hesitant and lost confidence in his ability to make plays without earning a suspension.
Aside from Gerald McCoy absolutely destroying the guard in front of him consistently, and Akeem Spence getting to Brady for his first career sack, the defense failed to get consistent pressure on Brady, which resulted in him having entirely too long to throw far too often. In true karmic fashion the run defense went out the window in the fourth quarter as Legarrette Blount (equal to Jeff Demps) closed the game out.
A mixed bag, but reason to hope. If the Bucs lose to Arizona next week then heads might start to roll. This is coming from a guy that has tried like Hell to keep a positive attitude about this team for the past two weeks.
Most Valuable Player: Doug Martin - Martin ran hard all game, averaging 4.4 yards per carry against a defense that clearly keyed in on stopping him first and foremost. Lavonte David is my runner up here. Great game from the 2nd year linebacker. Outstanding in coverage as he basically shut down Julian Edelman much of the time.
Least Valuable Player: Johnthan Banks - Getting owned by Tom Brady isn't crazy for a rookie, but letting an undrafted rookie like Kenbrell Thompkins make a fool out of you, as well as the pass interference penalty he committed, win him this award. Runner up: Vincent Jackson. Dude has GOT to figure out how to avoid those huge drops. Really hurt the team today.