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Josh Freeman's Personal Menace: Brent Grimes

Brent Grimes loves playing against Josh Freeman. The Bucs haven't been able to beat the Atlanta Falcons these past two seasons, and Brent Grimes had a lot to do with that. His pummeling the Bucs quarterback started back in 2009, when the Buccaneers played the Falcons in a largely meaningless game at the end of the season. Down 17-10, the Bucs were driving downfield and Freeman tried to go for the endzone to Antonio Bryant on 1st-and-10 from the Falcons' 35-yard line. But the ball was thrown too far inside, and Brent Grimes could pick the ball off easily. Had the Bucs held on to the ball there, they could easily have won that game.

A year later, the Bucs would face the Falcons in Atlanta. They had trailed for the entire game, but had a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter. From the Bucs' 44-yard line, Josh Freeman took the snap, dropped back, fired a quick out pass to Mike Williams - but the ball wasn't placed far enough outside and Brent Grimes could easily jump the route and take the ball back. This didn't end the Bucs' chances in that game, but it certainly hurt their momentum and ended a promising drive for the Bucs. 

Four weeks later the Bucs and Falcons met again, and this time the Bucs were actually beating the Falcons. Halfway through the third quarter, though, Grimes got his hands on a Freeman interception again. The Bucs were up 17 to 14, and on a scramble to the right Freeman didn't get enough elevation on a deep pass. Grimes managed to jump up and snag that pass out of the air for what seemed to be a clean interception, but the play was reversed on a replay challenge because Grimes basically dropped the ball. 

Despite avoiding a Grimes interception, the Bucs gave away the lead in that game anyway. Down 28 to 24, the Bucs got the ball late in the game and had a chance to construct yet another game-winning drive. This was Freeman's forte: he'd shown multiple times that season that he could drive the Bucs down field and win them close games. It looked like he was doing the same thing this time, except Brent Grimes stepped up - again. Freeman had gotten the Bucs to the Falcons' 27-yard line, when he fired another quick out pass, again to Mike Williams, who was again covered by Brent Grimes. And the Falcons cornerback again managed to undercut the route and intercept the ball. Again. A replay challenge yielded no respite for the Bucs, and they lost the game on this play. Josh Freeman even seemed to lose his cool on this play, blasting Brent Grimes as he ran out of bounds, earning the Bucs a (meaningless) Personal Foul penalty. 

In four games against Josh Freeman, Grimes intercepted three passes and dropped a fourth. In a year when Josh Freeman threw just 6 interceptions, Grimes was responsible for two, and almost had a third. I don't know why Grimes seems to have Freeman's number, but the next time the Bucs and Falcons play, Josh Freeman needs to start burning or avoiding the undersized, scrappy corner, or the Falcons may win again.