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Ravens 44 Buccaneers 16: Backups, special teams lose the battle for Tampa Bay

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers couldn't get anything going against the Baltimore Ravens, as backups and special teams doomed the Bucs.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were embarrassed in their first preseason game by the defending Super Bowl Champions. While the starters barely got out on the field, the Baltimore Ravens dominated the game once the backups came on the field, highlighting the Bucs' lack of depth across their roster. Baltimore won the game 41 to 16 in the end.

First team wins

The Buccaneers rested Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph, both returning from injury, which left them with a makeshift offensive line with Ted Larsen and Cody Wallace at both guard spots. That showed early on in the game, as the Bucs couldn't get anything going on their first drive. Wallace looked especially poor. The offensive guard woes continued on their second offensive drive, but the Bucs played significantly better.

Brian Leonard as the third-down back and backup running back gave the Bucs their spark, with Kevin Ogletree as the third receiver contributing with a nice 22-yard catch. A Vincent Jackson sideline catch was overturned on replay, and the drive fizzled out in the red zone. Derek Dimke giving the Buccaneers a 3-0 lead as Lawrence Tynes spent the game on the bench with an ingrown toenail.

That signaled the end for the Bucs' first-team offense, and the first-team defense was showing up as well. A 10-yard sack by Lavonte David on a delayed blitz led up to a Danny Gorrer interception on third down, who had a great break on the ball. Gorrer showed up on the second defensive drive as well, breaking up a pass on third down -- but unfortunately he went down with what looked to be a shoulder injury.

Mike Glennon is up and down

The backups came in there, and the Ravens didn't exactly make it hard on Mike Glennon. The backup quarterback found a wide open Tom Crabtree for a 61-yard catch on a busted coverage on his first play. Glennon did a good job buying a second and getting the ball off in the face of the rush, though.

Glennon's second play wasn't as good though. After Mike James got a few carries, the quarterback was hit as he threw the ball, which led to an incomplete pass after initially being ruled a fumble after a couple of decent Mike James runs. Glennon's first drive fizzled out with an incompletion to Chris Owusu, with a back-shoulder throw that seemed to be a bit under-thrown. Derek Dimke made it 6-0 with his second field goal. Dimke later had a tackle on a big kick return -- a big day for the kicker, who's battling Lawrence Tynes for the placekicker job.

The second-team defense held up, though. The Bucs couldn't get much pressure against Tyrod Taylor, but the coverage was solid and the Bucs forced several three-and-outs. Unfortunately, a muffed punt by Chris Owusu gave the Ravens an easy red-zone possession and Bernard Pierce punched it in when safety Keith Tandy lost his leverage as an edge defender. Owusu seemed to struggle throughout the game, despite his solid training camp so far.

Beyond that hiccup, though, the defense continued to play well. Another three-and-out forced by Johnthan Banks, who got a lot of playing time in the first half and played really well. The offense made it up for them, too, with two defensive pass interferences on Chris Owusu giving the Bucs the ball on the goal-line, allowing Brian Leonard to punch it in for a 13-7 lead, which was cut to a 13-10 lead after a big kick return (and placekicker tackle!).

It wasn't until the Bucs started playing third-stringers toward the end of the first half that the defense really started to crack and gave up another touchdown, giving the Ravens a 17-13 lead.

Pushing the starters

While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave most of their starters a very limited work;pad, a few players stood out. Da'Quan Bowers was getting playing time throughout the first half, mostly at defensive tackle, surprisingly. The Buccaneers have been publicly pushing him to play better as he's been a bit of a disappointment in training camp.

Johnthan Banks and Dekoda Watson also got a lot of playing time, two players who are involved in some strong position battles. Akeem Spence played most of the first half, but that may have been more of a function of the injuries to Gary Gibson and Derek Landri. Spence played very well, though, and the Bucs didn't give up much on the ground through the middle.

But despite giving some defensive linemen some extensive playing time, the Bucs really couldn't get any pressure on the quarterbacks. Gerald McCoy played well for the handful of snaps he got, but that was about the only player who made a dent in Baltimore's pass protection. The coverage held up well despite that, but it's a big concern.

Special Teams Woes

One area for concern was special teams. While Derek Dimke is now a cult hero, everything else about special teams failed. Chris Owusu muffed a punt and nearly muffed a kickoff. The Bucs gave up a long kickoff return, which was nearly a touchdown. And to make matters worse, the first half ended with a blocked punt, giving up a touchdown and giving the Ravens a 24-13 lead.

The Buccaneers brought in Dave Wannstedt as a special teams coordinator this season, but apparently the backups aren't handling his coaching very well. Wannstedt, of course, had never coached special teams before. That may have something to do with it -- or it may just be that the backups played poorly.

Third String Defense Hurts

For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the third-string defense in the second half got off to a bad start. The Bucs couldn't get a pass rush going, but now their secondary gave up plays, too. Tyrod Taylor marched down the field easily, getting a 28-yard touchdown pass to LaQuan Williams. Rashaan Melvin was in position, but lost the ball in the air, and the Raven had an easy catch in the endzone.

Peyton Hillis finally entered the game as the fourth-string running back and he, Kevin Ogletree and Mike Glennon got off to a good start on getting back in the game. But an apparent knee injury for Peyton Hillis was followed by a Mike Glennon interception on an inaccurate throw, putting the Bucs back in the hole. A three-and-out later and Glennon did lead the Bucs to a touchdown with good catches by Kevin Ogletree and Derek Hagan, who showed up several times on that drive. Derek Dimke capped that off with his third field goal of the day.

As the fourth quarter started, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers put in the backups to their backups -- and that didn't help them. For some reason they put in fourth-stringer Adam Weber at quarterback instead of Dan Orlovsky. And, to no one's surprise, Weber threw an interception on his first play. His very next throw: interception to someone named Moe Lee. Ravens points off those interceptions:10. One of them coming off an Aaron Mellette touchdown pass, who caught the ball over Deveron Carr.

Ultimately, the Buccaneers lost this game because of their backups. The Bucs looked to be outclassed, and the depth concerns we've had throughout the offseason have shown themselves to be justified, at least in this game.


Danny Gorrer went down with a groin injury in the first quarter, after playing well for two series. He was listed as questionable to return and, predictably, did not return.

Peyton Hillis left the game with a knee injury in the third quarter and did not return after limping off the field.