The Buccaneers lose yet again in a game they clearly should have won. After dominating the Cardinals for three and half quarters the team simply fell apart late in the game, allowing Arizona to come back and steal away the win.
The offensive offense:
It's unclear how the team will find a way to blame this poor offensive performance on Josh Freeman, but at this point it wouldn't surprise me if they tried. Despite the fact he wasn't even on the sideline he clearly got into Doug Martin's head beforehand, making him have a horrible game?
Glennon started out the day looking phenomenal. Standing tall in the pocket and delivering clutch throws down the field to extend drives. The touchdown drive in the first quarter was a thing of beauty. All cylinders clicking as Martin had a big run and Glennon picked apart the defense as they marched down the field, capitalizing on the turnover, just as they should do.
Call me crazy, but this guy began to hope. Maybe he was really better than Freeman. Maybe Freeman was really going rogue and the offense wasn't as horribly schemed as we thought. Beleaguered kicker Rian Lindell even made a 50 yard field goal. This was clearly the Bucs' day.
We even saw Jeff Demps make a contribution in the first half, as the Bucs gave him an end around, which he turned into a 14 yard gain. Things were looking good. There were negative things happening which I chose to simply ignore. Glennon clearly had issues with the running back exchange a couple of times. He threw a horrible pass that was nearly picked off by Karlos Dansby when he could have easily jogged for the first down. No matter, the fan in me was excited, and I wasn't going to let a few outlier plays sway my opinion of my new favorite quarterback.
The wheels started to come off in the second half. The offense was bailed out countless times by superb defensive play and boneheaded penalties by the Cardinals. They failed to put a single point on the board in the second half, and ultimately that is what cost them the game.
Offensive MVP: Brian Leonard. We've got to give it to somebody, right? Leonard converted a couple of tough third downs by catching a screen pass. The first was by fighting hard for yardage, and the second by making a spectacular catch on a ball that was overthrown by Glennon.
Offensive LVP: Doug Martin. His offensive line certainly didn't do him any favors, but Doug Martin spent more time dancing behind the line of scrimmage than I've ever seen. He got tackled for a loss numerous times, putting the offense in a precarious position. If he had simply run forward instead of trying to juke everyone all the time, his stat line would look much better. As it stands he had 27 carries for 45 yards. Yuck. Runner up: Vincent Jackson. Patrick Peterson absolutely shut down Jackson, who was partially responsible for the first interception because he ran a lazy route. He gets a pass only because he was a game time decision and was playing through pain.
The debilitating defense:
The defense didn't lose this game. They deserved a win. It was one of the most outstanding defensive efforts I've ever seen by a Bucs' team. Everything went right, until it didn't. In a game where we saw both Johnthan Banks and Darrelle Revis both make their first interceptions in a Buccaneer uniform we still finish on a sour note.
The run defense was superb. Arizona essentially had no running game today. Gerald McCoy was extremely disruptive and lived in the offensive backfield today, and recorded yet another sack in a season that should have him back in a Pro Bowl jersey if his play continues in this fashion. Once Mark Barron went out the high level of play continued unabated for awhile but eventually his presence would be missed.
Revis, who had earlier picked off Carson Palmer on an out route that he ran better than Fitzgerald, got absolutely shook by Fitzgerald on the only touchdown. He was in single coverage and it wasn't even close. Dashon Goldson impressed me as well. He played spectacularly. You'll hear a lot of people complaining about his personal foul penalty on the game winning drive, but that hit was as clean they come. It was a horrible call from the refs and it will overshadow a game in which Goldson played smart and went for pass breakups instead of the big hit. He also was the runner on the great punt fake, and looked outstanding. Maybe they should make him the 3rd receiver.
Still the defense gave up 13 points and certainly did enough to get the Bucs the win. This one isn't on them, at all.
MVP: Lavonte David. David did it all today. Making clutch tackles, getting great pressure as a pass rusher, and offering great pass coverage as well. He's quickly proving to be one of the few linebackers in the league that can excel in coverage against anyone. Tight ends, wide receivers, running backs coming out of the backfield. Doesn't matter. David is a complete player and the Bucs are lucky to have him. Runner up: Darrelle Revis. He shut down Fitz on almost all the man matchups I saw. The few catches he did give up to him before the touchdown looked like zone reads in which Revis released him to the inside. He's almost back to 100% and fan confidence shouldn't be shaken in him because of the TD. You'll get beat from time to time in one of one matchups and Fitzgerald is a hall of fame caliber player. No shame in slipping up one play when you played an outstanding game.
LVP: Johnthan Banks. Despite making a great interception, he had a rough game. Michael Floyd continually made big catches on him, and he was responsible for yet another huge pass interference penalty in crunch time.