Playing Atlanta, a divisional foe, in Tampa with playoff implications’ at stake and a chance to truly establish an identity fell by the wayside in the fourth quarter as the Buccaneers squandered a 10-point lead behind shoddy special teams play and ill time penalties dropping the Pewter Pirates to 7 dash 5 and on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.
Run Defense – For a third consecutive week the rush defense held a potent runner under 100-yards as they limited Michael Turner to 88-yards on 24 carries for an average of 3.66 yards per carry and one touchdown.
Pass Coverage – For much of the game the Bucs secondary harassed the Falcons receivers with tight coverage, intercepted two Matt Ryan passes and kept virtually everything in front of them, even without the services of the team’s best corner as Aqib Talib suffered what appeared to be a hamstring injury early in the contest.
Legarrette Blount – On two of the Buccaneers three touchdown drives Blount rushed for 86 yards on 9 carries and a touchdown with two huge 20 yard runs. However, it’s becoming quite obvious that the only thing holding Blount back is offensive coordinator Greg Olson.
Josh Freeman – For a second consecutive week Freeman had a shaky outing. He was inaccurate and had a handful of poor decisions. It led to him completing under 60% of his passes and an interception.
Penalties – In the return game and especially late in the game and on the Falcons first touchdown cost the Bucs big time. They finished the game with 9 for 102 yards.
Dropped Passes – Granted the receiving corps is made up primarily of rookies, there are just way too many dropped passes. Mike Williams had four by my count, Arrelious Benn had one and Michael Spurlock had one for a total of six dropped balls in a tight game. Williams who is the teams leading receiver has a penchant for dropping the ball and seemingly has a drop in every game.
Execution – Fitting on a day the team remembered the late John McKay that they would struggle with execution and be out of sync in such a high stakes game.