By Max Luckan
In this matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions, at times it certainly looked like neither team really wanted to win. The Lions turned the ball over repeatedly, while the Bucs failed to capitalize on turnovers for the most part.
But all of a sudden, the Bucs had won three games in a row after narrowly defeating the Lions 24-21. With the victory, the Bucs improved to a 3-8 record this season, and the Lions now have a record of 6-5 and have not looked like a division-leading team in recent weeks. On Sunday, the Lions did not play well at all, and the Bucs just narrowly escaped with a victory.
Quarterback Grade: A-
Probably the most impressive thing about Bucs rookie quarterback Mike Glennon’s play has been the fact that he doesn’t turn the ball over. Against the Lions, Glennon continued that trend by protecting the football.
Because the running game was not effective at all, Glennon had to find other ways to score points, which he did. Glennon completed 14-21 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns against a strong Lions defense. His play continues to improve, and the rookie quarterback has instilled some confidence in this Bucs offense. Of course, little rookie mistakes, such as taking a sack late in the game, are still present in Glennon’s play, but he has been very impressive overall.
Offense Grade: B-
Running back Bobby Rainey was talked about a lot because of his breakout performance against the Atlanta Falcons last week. But against a strong Lions defense, Rainey was extremely ineffective, rushing for only 35 yards on 18 carries. Running back Brian Leonard only carried the ball once for three yards, which shows just how nonexistent the Bucs ground game was on Sunday.
Overall, the offense managed 229 total yards, but they were not very impressive. Except for an 85-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tiquan Underwood, the offense lacked big plays and just barely squeezed by with a slightly above average performance.
Defense Grade: A-
Anytime a team forces five turnovers, they are going to have a good chance to win. That’s exactly what the Bucs defense did against the Lions. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford threw four interceptions on the day, and the defense limited an explosive Lions offense to 21 points.
The Bucs were missing key players Dashon Goldson and Mason Foster, and also Darrelle Revis, who left the game because of an injury just before halftime. Still, rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks was able to contain Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Despite being shorthanded, Tampa Bay’s defense turned in a solid performance against a top offense.
Special Teams Grade: C
For the second straight week, the Bucs special teams unit was able to block a punt. Against the Lions, however, they were unable to capitalize off of the blocked punt. Kick returner Eric Page gave the Bucs offense solid field position on multiple occasions and his returns have been very helpful for the offense.
Kicker Rian Lindell’s kicking woes finally returned in grandiose fashion against the Lions. Lindell missed two clutch field goals late, which easily could have cost the Bucs a victory. Lindell did play quite well for a while, but he has not been clutch down the stretch. In this case, the Bucs got very lucky that the Lions were unable to capitalize on Lindell’s miscues, but that won’t always be the case.
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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.