The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took on the Carolina Panthers Sunday afternoon and came out victorious with 16-10 win. This was also Ronde Barber’s 200th consecutive career start. Even though he is playing as a safety for the first time in his 15 seasons as a cornerback, he was able to start at corner in a nickel package for the first play of the game.
Arrelious Benn (WR), Anthony Gaitor (DB) and E.J. Biggers (CB) did not play in the game and Ted Larsen started at right guard, replacing the injured Davin Joseph. Benn could be ready for Sunday.
Bucs’ offense: B+
The Bucs’ offense started the game off strong, scoring on their first drive of the game. Rookie running back, Doug Martin, ran for 11 yards to set up a six yard touchdown throw from Josh Freeman to Mike Williams. On the Bucs third drive, they staled out on the Carolina 1 yard line, which lead to a field goal. Running back D.J. Ware was used on third downs, like coach Schiano said earlier in the week. Doug Martin had 24 carries for 95 yards, with his last play a 15 yard blast. Mike Williams had only two receptions for 12 yards, but did score the Bucs only touchdown.
The offense started the game out strong but could not continue on the same pace after the first quarter. They need to try and continue that intensity longer throughout the game. They also had no turn-overs.
Quarterback Josh Freeman threw for one touchdown and was 7-for-7 on the opening drive. Freeman was 16 out of 24 for 138 yards with one touch down. He only threw for 16 yards the second half of the game. Freeman was also saced twice. He had no interceptions but threw for under 200 yards. With only one touch down and had a disappointing second half. I think he had a good start for the season and I expect Freeman to get better and go back to his 2010 form.
Special teams: A
The Bucs special teams were a big part of the game. Thanks to kicker Connor Barth going three-for-three on field goals, he helped to keep the Bucs in the game. On their second drive of the game, Barth scored a 36-yard field goal, giving them a 10-0 lead and on their third drive he kicked a 20 yard field goal. His longest kick of the game was a 40 yarder, which was his 18th straight made field goal. That is a new franchise record. Michael Smith had three kick off returns with the longest run back being 23 yards. Connor Barth was the bright star of the group and will continue to be throughout the season.
Bucs’ defense: A
The Bucs defense looked liked the team of old. Even Ronde Barber said it felt like the old days of the great Tampa Bay defense. They kept the Panthers off the board for the first half, possessing 171 yards to the Panthers 109. On Barber’s 200th consecutive start, he got a sack and an interception. The pass was tipped by Aqib Talib and the pick was Barber’s 44th career interception. Ahmad Black also got an interception, which was his first career pick. Mark Barron blocked a big pass, which was then followed by Talib blocking a punt with Clayborn recovering the ball. Gerald McCoy got a sack along with Michael Bennett, who also had a forced fumble. Mason Foster had the most tackles with five. The Bucs defense gets an A because they only allowed the Panthers 10 rushing yards on 13 carries and had several big plays and hits. Expect Coach Schiano to continue with what he is doing on defense, which means they can only get better.
Next week, the Bucs face the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants in New York. That will be a true test to see how they stack up against the champs.
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Kyra Hallett is a freelance writer and a Multimedia Sports Journalist. She has experience covering Tampa Bay sports in many outlets including Examiner.com. Her dream job would be to work with the athletes and their fans. You can view some of her work at KyraHallett.com or here at Examiner.com.