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Buccaneers 13, Lions 20 — HALF
With the first half of the Bucs season opener in the books, there are things to like and things to be frustrated with. One thing to be happy with was Aqib Talib and his defensive touchdown, the first touchdown of the Buccaneers season. Almost six minutes into the game, Talib picked off a Matthew Stafford pass that was tipped and then caught by Talib.
That was probably the one positive in the game thus far for Tampa Bay. The defense had a nice stand on the Lions first drive of the game that forced only a Field Goal, but Matthew Stafford has been able to evade the Bucs secondary with his only fault being the interception by Talib. Had that not happened, the Lions would be looking very good right now.
The Bucs secondary has allowed nearly 200 passing yards and the obligatory Calvin Johnson homerun which came on a 4th and 3 for the Lions. Stafford hooked up with Megatron for 36 yards and made Talib look foolish after embarrassing Stafford on the pick. As Talib helplessly dove backwards with his arms out stretched, Johnson casually caught the ball and trotted into the endzone.
The Lions scoring drive was set up by a Josh Freeman interception, which is unfortunately his only highlight of the game. After the Lions score, the Bucs went three and out, hanging their heads.
The Lions used the three and out to march down the field and score another touchdown, Stafford’s second on the day, to widen the gap. Josh Freeman came out after that with about a minute left and tried to put a a scoring drive together which was aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Lions deep into Tampa’s drive. The Bucs were able to walk away with only a field goal to show for their 67 yard drive.
What needs to be adjusted is just about everything. It seems as though the Bucs are over thinking things and then not thinking at all. They looked impressive on defense on a couple of occasions, but in terms of the offense last season seems like a dream. Matthew Stafford is playing Freeman out of the stadium putting together impressive drive after drive. He’s getting more chances too: Stafford has 25 attempts for 265 yards, Freeman had 14 for under 100 yards. Freeman did seem to finally get it together in the Bucs final drive of the half and that must continue into the second half if Tampa wants a chance to win. LaGarrette Blount needed to have a big game and hasn’t so far: he has just 13 yards on 4 carries in the first half versus Jahvid Best’s 33 yards.
The Lions are getting more opportunities because they’ve had the ball for more than half the game. The ball has been in the Lions possession for 21:04 while the Bucs have held the ball for just ___. As a result, the Lions are out gaining the Bucs offensively 324-108.
Tampa must contain the Lions tight ends who are burning them bad. Calvin Johnson has 84 yards, but Brandon Pettigrew has over 50 so far and he seems to make big spot catches when it hurts the Bucs the most. Tony Sheffler was on the receiving end of Stafford’s second touchdown throw.
It’s not over until it’s over and the Bucs can chalk up the first half to being rusty. But they need to make adjustments if they don’t want to go 0-2 against the Lions. Freeman needs to calm down and the offensive line needs to step up their game. They’ve done two things I predicted: they’ve taken Ndamuking Suh out of the game, but are allowing the rest of the defense into his shoes. Open up running lanes for Blount and it will open up the passing game and put the Lions on their heels.