The Tampa Bay Buccaneers planned to play their starting units into the third quarter of their third preseason game Saturday at Buffalo. As it turned out, the first half was more than enough.
The Buccaneers thoroughly dominated the Bills in the opening half of Saturday’s 27-14 win at Ralph Wilson Stadium, to the point that starting QB
McCown’s offensive line stayed in to block for second-string QB
“We game-planned these guys and we went out there and executed what we had planned for them,” said DT
“I made a joke about this, but I actually beat Lavonte to the ball this time!” said McDonald with a laugh. “I just happened to pick it up and run it in for a touchdown. Coach Lovie [Smith], he emphasizes that every time is a ball is loose, every time we go out there, try to get a turnover. It’s practicing the things we want to do in a game and it just came alive.”
Though McCown was often hurried by the Bills’ pass rush early in the game, and the Bucs’ first drive ended in an interception after TE
“We just responded [after the early interception],” said McCown. “Those things are going to happen. It was a bad break for us, but those things happen. The good thing is that our defense, even when we give them bad field position like that, they go out there and get the ball back for us. So we’re thankful for those guys. As an offense, you take those breaks, you roll with them and you respond. We did that, and that was a good thing. After those couple bumps, I thought we played well.”
McCown said the big pass to Martin unfolded exactly as it had looked on the practice field this week.
“That was really sweet,” said McCown. “The catch-and-carry down to the goal line, that was something we looked at this week on film. It’s really fun when everybody starts to see those things come to fruition on the field. He made a great catch and I tell you what, he’s committed to his craft. He dropped one in practice the other day and asked me to throw balls to him afterward. I can’t say enough about Doug. You see him getting better every week and really getting himself ready to roll for the season and get back to form. That’s going to be huge for us.”
Buffalo tightened up the score significantly after halftime, at least in part due to the Bucs’ change of plans with the starting units. Manuel and the rest of the Bills’ starters stayed in for the first two possessions of the second half – which was surely Buffalo’s plan from the beginning, and there was no reason for that to change – leading a pair of rather easy TD drives against the Bucs’ defensive reserves. Manuel completed the first drive with a 14-yard scoring pass to former Buccaneer WR Mike Williams, and RB Fred Jackson provided the second TD with an eight-yard sweep to the right.
The Buccaneers did sprinkle in a couple reserves during their dominant first half, including recently-signed DE
The Bucs scored first, turning their second takeaway of the opening quarter into seven points. Foster’s 24-yard return of a fumble recovery set up a 39-yard drive that was almost all Martin. The tough running back ran three times for 13 yards and caught a pass for 21 yards on the five-play drive. He originally appeared to score on an acrobatic finish to a 22-yard catch, but the play was reviewed and he was ruled down at the one. No problem – Martin dived over the pile on the next play to get the ball into the painted turf.
The Bucs’ defense continued to dominate in the second quarter, in one series pushing the Bills back into a third-and-40 situation at their own 15. The resulting punt gave the ball back to the offense at midfield, setting up an eight-play, 27-yard field goal drive keyed by McCown’s own 19-yard dash on a play-action play.
Tampa Bay’s defense made it 17-0 just minutes later, this time putting the ball in the end zone on its own. DEs Michael Johnson and Adrian Clayborn swarmed over Manuel in the backfield, forcing a fumble that
After the Buccaneers won the toss and deferred, the Bills started at their own 20 after a
The takeaway clipped a Bills drive but didn’t lead to any points for the Bucs, as the offense failed to move the ball. In fact, a bubble screen to rookie WR
Two runs and a catch of a third-down swing pass by RB Fred Jackson got only six yards, leading to a short 34-yard punt by Brian Moorman put the ball back in McCown’s hands at the Buffalo 46. Unfortunately, the ensuing drive only lasted two plays as TE Brandon Myers appeared to slip on his route, giving S Da’Norris Searcy an opportunity to make a nifty interception.
Searcy got the ball back to the Bucs’ 42, but two plays later LB Lavonte David forced a fumble by RB C.J. Spiller that Foster recovered and ran back to the Buffalo 39. On the next play, Martin found a seam over right tackle and darted through it for a gain of 13. The Bucs faced a third-and-six three plays later and Martin slipped out of the backfield, caught a short dart over the middle (after an initial juggle), dashed between two defenders and then rolled over tackler Searcy into the end zone for the game’s first score. That was the initial ruling, at least. The play was reviewed and overturned but Martin was able to dive into the end zone on the next play to give the Bucs a 7-0 lead.
The Bills overcame an early third-and-six with a 12-yard sideline pass to WR Mike Williams, with CB
Martin got the next Bucs drive started, rushing for five and six yards to create a first down at Tampa Bay’s 45. Evans got the Bills DB turned around with a comebacker on the next play, catching a 12-yard pass on the right sideline. The drive stalled there, however and the Bucs had to punt it away. Nickell Roby called a fair catch at the seven.
The Bills got out away from their goal line with a Spiller run up the middle for 18 yards and a 20-yard sideline catch by Williams. However, consecutive penalties on Bills O-Linemen pushed the ball all the way back to the Buffalo 25, and McCoy and McDonald then ganged up on Jackson in the backfield for a loss of five. Manuel got flagged for a pass from beyond the line of scrimmage on the first play of the second quarter, moving it back to the Buffalo 15, where it was third-and-40. A surrender screen pass picked up 10 but the punt on fourth down went just 27 yards, so the Bucs started again two yards shy of midfield.
The Bucs faced a third-and-five moments later and lined up in a five-wide formation, with TEs
The game’s next points were scored on Buffalo’s ensuing possession, but not by the Bills’ offense. On first-and-10 from the Bills’ 22, DEs Adrian Clayborn and Michael Johnson met at the quarterback, sacking Manuel and forcing a fumble. DT Clinton McDonald jumped on the loose ball, got to his feet and rumbled 17 yards for a touchdown.
A sack by DE Larry English on a blur of a rush around right tackle cost the Bills five yards on third-and-eight early in the next possession, leading to another punt. Rookie WR
The Buccaneers got the ball first to start the second half, with Glennon under center. Passes of 12 yards to WR
The Bucs’ second drive of the half ended quickly and Buffalo started again at its own 40 after the punt. The ongoing matchup of Buffalo’s first-team offense against the Bucs’ defensive reserves continued to be a mismatch as Manuel drove the 60 yards on six plays for another touchdown. Jackson ran this one in from eight yards out to make it 24-14 with 2:39 left in the third quarter.
The Bucs’ next drive ended quickly, too, and QB Dennis Dixon came in to lead Buffalo’s next drive. Dixon got the ball into Tampa Bay territory but a fumbled snap on an attempted fourth-and-one conversion gave the ball back to the visiting team.
The Bucs took over at their own 40, and Glennon drove the team 51 yards on 13 plays to set up
- The Buccaneers announced six players that would not dress before Saturday’s game: CB
- The Bills held the following players out of the game due to injury: WR Sammy Watkins, CB Mario Butler, S Jonathan Meeks, CB Bobby Felder, G Chris Williams, TE Tony Moeaki, DT Alan Branch and DT Kyle Williams.
- The Bucs led 24-0 at halftime. The last time a Tampa Bay team scored at least 24 points in the first half of a preseason game was August 30, 2007. The Bucs led Houston, 24-0, at halftime of a 31-24 victory at Raymond James Stadium.