By Max Luckan
After a lengthy weather delay of over an hour, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints were finally able to really get the game going. The Saints started off fast, as tight end Jimmy Graham could not be stopped. And while it was all Saints in the first half, the Bucs defense was very impressive in the second half and the team took a 14-13 lead over the Saints after linebacker Mason Foster returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown.
However, the Bucs missed a late field goal that would have given them a four-point lead, and in familiar fashion, the Saints were able to win it 16-14 on a field goal as time expired.
Coaching Grade: D+
It seems as though the Bucs aren’t disciplined at all. Again against the Saints, the Bucs racked up 118 yards in penalties, which proved costly in the end. Overall, Tampa Bay committed 10 penalties in the loss to the Saints and those penalties gave the Saints many second chances throughout the game.
On the offensive side of the ball for the Bucs, there were again communication issues and those start with head coach Greg Schiano. The Bucs wanted to eliminate the mental errors such as the false starts, but a crucial penalty negated a potential touchdown by wide receiver Vincent Jackson. The Bucs have to fix the mental lapses.
Offense Grade: B-
Had it not been for running back Doug Martin and the play of the offensive line, the grade would have been much lower. Martin was able to rush for 144 yards on 29 carries and Martin racked up key first downs on multiple occasions.
Quarterback Josh Freeman struggled early again, but led an impressive drive late in the game, which was when the Bucs could have secured the victory. The last-second loss was not Freeman’s fault by any means; however, he still only completed 9-22 passes for 125 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Freeman connected with Jackson, who finished with 77 yards receiving, at a few crucial points, and he certainly played better than in Week 1.
Defense Grade: A
Against the high-powered Saints offense, the Bucs defense certainly held their own. Saints quarterback Drew Brees finished with 322 yards passing, but the Bucs were able to pick Brees off twice, and one of those was returned for a touchdown.
The defense kept the Bucs in the game, as they made many key stops, including one impressive goal line stand. Safety Mark Barron played extremely well, especially in pass coverage. The defensive line was able to pressure Brees and they racked up four sacks, which is encouraging news for defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan.
However, the defense wasn’t able to make that final stop against the Saints, and as a result, the Saints were able to win the game as time expired.
Special Teams Grade: B-
Bucs kicker Rian Lindell almost had a game-winner in Week 1, but the Jets were able to steal that away from him. Against the Saints, Lindell had a chance to seal the victory for the Bucs with a late field goal, but he was unable to connect. Because of Lindell’s miss, the Saints had excellent field position and they easily marched down the field with little time left.
While Lindell’s miss was crucial, punter Michael Koenen played extremely well for the second week in a row. Because of Koenen’s punting, the Bucs were able to pin the Saints deep in their own territory multiple times, which likely sparked the defense.
Still, though, Lindell’s miss was a fatal mistake for the Bucs.
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Max Luckan lives in Tampa, FL and is a sports writer covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL. Luckan has been covering the Buccaneers for a few years now. Max is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.