Top 5 defensive plays. No. Nooooo. No. You can't make me. You can't make me go through that game again. You can't force me to try to find some semblance of defensive play at any point in that game. I mean, the Bucs had two tackles for loss in the entire game. Two! That's ridiculous!
Okay, fine, I'll try to find some. There. I've found one: Michael Bennett sacks Cam Newton. I mean, that's kind of awesome. Michael Bennett at nose tackle because no one remotely capable of rushing the passer from that position is healthy, and he beats a double team with a spin move to sack the QB. Great play. Only good defensive play of the game.
No? Not enough. Come on! You're really going to put me through this? Well, fine then, have the four worst defensive plays of the game to round out this list. Hit the jump for the suck!
Tanard Jackson forgets he's a deep safety
2-9-CAR 9 (13:20) (Shotgun) C.Newton pass deep right to B.LaFell for 91 yards, TOUCHDOWN
This play is hilarious. If you can get past the point of the Bucs being terrible, that is, but I'm guessing most of us got past some five weeks ago. It's really a play that should never have happened. It starts with the Bucs zone blitzing, dropping Clayborn into coverage. The idea there is to get some unexpected pass rushers going the other way and overloading the offensive line, but nothing of that sort happens. There's some pressure on Newton eventually, but that's mostly just Mason Foster being a pretty good blitzer and pushing back the running back blocking him.
So yeah, next sequence of events in that play: Cam Newton throws a high ball down the field to a covered receiver. I say he's covered, because E.J. Biggers is running with him step for step. Apparently, that's not covered as LaFell makes a terrific leaping grab on a very high ball.
Here's what would have happened had LaFell been a Buccaneer: he would have tipped the ball and a deep safety who knew what his responsibilties were would be intercepting it.
But, these are the Panthers and they're playing the Bucs. So LaFell catches it, E.J. Biggers can't get up high enough to disrupt the pass, and his expected deep safety help has completely disappeared. Where to? Well, Tanard Jackson decided that jumping a route by Greg Olsen in the middle of the field was a terrific idea when he's supposed to be covering the deep middle of the field. Face, meet palm. Tanard Jackson was actually benched for messing up here.
Tanard Jackson forgets how to tackle
2-4-TB 49 (:33) (Shotgun) C.Newton up the middle for 49 yards, TOUCHDOWN
Tanard Jackson has been a horrible tackler this year. I can't overstate this. I actually think he's worse than Sabby Piscitelli every was. And Piscitelli may be the worst football player I've ever seen on a field. Everything has gone wrong for Tanard this year in the tackling department: he doesn't wrap up, he doesn't know how to run through an opponent, he doesn't know how to hit, and he lacks any and all physicality. That's all pretty weird for a player who used to be a hard hitter and sound tackler.
All of that was perfectly on display on this play. The Bucs get clowned by a read-option play, letting Cam Newton get into the secondary untouched. Michael Bennett bites on the dive RB, Quincy Black overruns his gap and he's off. That's not all that interesting. What's interesting is what happens some 15 yards downfield. Newton makes one pathetically easy fake, cuts - and Tanard Jackson is left gasping for air. No shot. To finish it off, he drags E.J. Biggers into the endzone. Touchdown, Panthers.
Sammie Stroughter tries to make a play for his team - and messes up
At this point the game was well out of hand, so this didn't have a huge impact on the game. But it was still pretty stupid. Sammie Stroughter decided to take a kickoff out of the endzone, gets blasted at the eight-yard line and loses the ball. That's a sequence of bad decisions and plays: first he decides to take it out, when he really shouldn't. Then he can't manage to even evade the first tackler. Finally, he doesn't hold on to the ball.
"But Sander, that's not a defensive play!"
Yeah, well, NFL.com's video section calls this a play by the Buccaneers defense. They always mess that up on kickoff return fumbles. But I'm using their labeling as an excuse to get that play in here. Hah.
Random Panther runs for 20+ yards
The Bucs gave up a whopping seven 20+ yard runs to four different players during the game. I'm not going to watch them, because they're all the same: the Bucs defensive line can't hold the point, the linebackers don't stay in their gaps, and no one can make a tackle.
There, I just saved you the need to watch any running play against the Buccaneers the past five weeks. Kind of me, right?