The final score of Thursday night’s preseason opener was 44-16. By the looks of that, the Buccaneers got absolutely smashed. However, I’m here to to tell you that the Bucs actually won the game. Well, the parts of the game that mattered.
The first way to examine is preseason game is during the time in which the starters were in the game. The Buccaneers first drive was a bit of a disaster, but they were able to move the ball well on the second drive and eventually get a field goal. The first team defense was on the field for 15 plays, they allowed a few first down, but also came up with an interception and forced a punt.
So the final score of the game after the first teamers left, 3-0.
But let’s dig a little deeper. NFL Football isn’t all about starters. Everyone knows backups will end up playing huge roles over the course of a season. So it’s worth a look at how the second team, with a few starters mixed in fared.
For the most part, that portion was from the middle of the first quarter to the end of the half. The half ended with the Buccaneers down 24-13, but the Ravens were gifted two touchdowns.
Chris Owusu‘s muffed punt led to a one play scoring drive, and the blocked punt would up in the end zone for Baltimore as well. So let’s throw both of those out.
It’s now 13-10 Bucs lead.
There was also a field goal that the Buccaneer defense allowed which came from a drive that started at the Tampa Bay 26. Let’s chuck that one out as well, 13-7.
Doesn’t look so bad anymore, does it? In the first half, the Ravens had seven first downs in six drives. Where I come from, if you allow just one first down per drive, you’re doing alright.
How bout the other side of the ball? The Buccaneers offense looked sharp in the second Freeman drive. And Glennon led two drives which wound up with points on the board.
If you take away the special teams nightmares, the Buccaneers’ offense and defense actually did alright. And I’m not sure about you, but if I had to chose one of the three teams to struggle, I’d pick special teams, because it’s definitely the easiest to fix.
I’d love to see a complete game from all three phases Friday in New England, but until then, I’m still looking at the Buccaneers record as 1-0.