December 15, 2017

Buccaneers 42, Raiders 32

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made their way out to Oakland, California to take on the Oakland Raiders.  The Bucs were coming off an impressive 36-17 over the Minnesota Vikings and the Raiders were coming off a 26-16 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.  Tampa won the toss and deferred to the second half.  Running back Mike Goodson ran the ball out of the end zone and was brought down at the 17-yard line.

The Raiders had the ball for a grand total of 50 seconds on this drive and quickly punted the ball away.  Tampa took over at their 28 and quarterback Josh freeman scrambled up the middle for a gain of 13 on first down.  A four-yard run by running back Doug Martin on second down set up a third and six.  On third down, Freeman was sacked by defensive end Andre Carter.  The ball came loose, but the Bucs maintained possession and punted the ball away.  The Raiders took over at their 16 and proceeded to do what they did on their previous drive.  They did absolutely nothing.  Another punt by Lechler had the Bucs starting at their ten-yard line.

On first down, Freeman completed a five-yard pass to tight end Nate Byham.  A roughing the passer penalty on defensive tackle Tommy Kelly gave the Bucs 15 more yards and a first down at the 30.  From the 30, Martin ran up the right side for 12 yards and a first down.  Wait! Another flag has been thrown!  Could it be the dreaded horse collar tackle on safety Tyvon Branch?  That’s the correct answer and there’s another free 15 yards for the Bucs.  Some more carries by Martin and a pass to wide receiver Mike Williams gave the Bucs a first down at the Raider 20.  The next three plays netted the Bucs minus one yard and kicker Connor Barth came on for a 39-yard field goal attempt.  The kick was blocked by defensive end Lamarr Houston.  Houston recovered the ball and ran up the right side.  He was dragged down at the Tampa 44-yard line.

Running back Darren McFadden got the next drive off to a good start with a seven-yard run up the left side.  An offside penalty on the Bucs gave the Raiders a first down at the 32.  Two more runs by McFadden moved the ball to the 20.  They would get as far as the 11 and the drive stalled there.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski trotted onto the field and nailed his 29-yard attempt.  That put the Raiders up 3-0 with 45 seconds to go in the first quarter.

Starting at their 20, the Bucs were flagged for holding on first down and that penalty moved them back to the ten.  A five-yard run by Martin made it third and 15 from the 15.  On third down, Freeman escaped the pass rush and launched a bomb down the middle to wide receiver Vincent Jackson for a gain of 68 yards.  Jackson was flagged for a 15-yard taunting penalty after the play and that put the ball at the Raider 36.  16 yards on two carries by Martin moved the ball to the 20.  On first down, Freeman looked for Jackson again and found him open in the end zone for a touchdown.  Barth made the point after and the Bucs led 7-3 with 13 minutes to go in the second quarter.

Starting at the 20, the Raiders went to the air again.  A nine-yard pass to wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and a 21-yard pass to wide receiver Denarius Moore put the Raiders near midfield.  After that, they went nowhere.  Palmer was sacked on third down for a loss of nine and the Raiders were forced to punt.  However, the Bucs were called for a roughing the punter penalty and that gave the Raiders new life.  On second and ten from the Tampa 47, wide receiver Derek Hagan got behind the secondary and was wide open.  Palmer saw him and hit him stride for a touchdown.  Not so fast, my friend.  Our good friend, right tackle Willie Smith was flagged for holding and the touchdown was called back.  It’s a rare occasion when I agree with the officials, but this was definitely holding.  No doubt about it.  That deflated the Raiders and they were forced to punt.  Instead of punting, they tried a fake.  Lechler completed a pass to running back Taiwan Jones, but he was nowhere near the first down marker when he was brought down.  That gave the Bucs the ball at their 46.  Also, McFadden left the game after this drive with a leg injury and would not return.

The next three drives all resulted in punts.  With 1:41 to go in the half, the Raiders took over at their 29.  Palmer launched a deep ball up the right side for Heyward-Bey and he made a beautiful one-handed catch for a gain of 46 yards.  He was pushed out of bounds at the Tampa 25.  Two incomplete passes made it third and ten.  On third down, Palmer looked for wide receiver Rod Streater and found him on the right sideline for a 25-yard touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 10-7 with 1:20 to go in the first half.

The Bucs would start at their 21 with time running short.  Passes to Martin and tight end Dallas Clark had them moving again.  A 22-yard pass up the right side to Williams put the ball at the Raider 38.  A false start penalty and a seven-yard pass to Martin stopped the drive at the 36.  Barth came on for a 54-yard field goal attempt and his kick was no good.  At the end of the first half, the Raiders led 10-7.

We’ve seen this before.  The Raiders go into the locker room at halftime with a the lead or trailing by a small margin and come out flat in the third quarter.  I wish I could tell you that didn’t happen in this game.  I wish I could tell you that.  But I can’t tell a lie.  Doug Martin looked like a man possessed in the second half.  The Bucs started at their 20 and quickly got a first down on a 12-yard pass to Clark.  Martin kept the ball moving with gains of ten and six yards.  A 12-yard pass to D.J. Ware on third and four made it first down at the Raider 45.  Martin finished the drive on the next play as he ran right up the middle and cut up the left sideline for a touchdown.  Barth made the point after and the Bucs now led 14-10 with 12 minutes to go in the third quarter.

The flat Raiders punted after three plays and the Bucs started their next drive at their 40.  On third and five from the 45, Freeman found Williams on the right side.  Williams caught the pass and headed up-field for a gain of 37.  Two more runs by Martin made it third and three at the Raider 11.  This time, they didn’t need to run a play.  Apparently Lamarr Houston was feeling generous and decided to jump offside and give the Bucs a first down at the six.  On second and goal from the four, Freeman found Williams for a touchdown.  Barth made the point after and the Bucs now led 21-10 with a little over seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The Raiders started at their 20 again and Palmer brought out the no huddle offense. Passes to fullback Marcel Reece, Goodson and Moore got the ball rolling into Tampa territory.  But on third and three from the 44, some miscommunication between Palmer and Moore led to an interception by cornerback Leonard Johnson.  Two plays later, Martin got loose again.  This time it was a 67-yard touchdown run.  Barth made the point after and the Bucs now had a commanding 28-10 lead with two minutes to go in the third quarter.

The Raiders got the ball at the 20 and Palmer spread the ball around to all his receivers.  Palmer completed passes for gains of 36 and 15 yards to Reece to put the Raiders deep in Tampa territory.  On second and five from the 16, Goodson caught a pass for a gain of 12 and a first down at the four.  He was hurt on the play and would not return.  On the next play, tight end Brandon Myers got his first touchdown of the year as he dove into the left side of the end zone.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders closed the gap to 28-17 with 14 minutes to go in the game.  You would think that touchdown would have given the Raider defense some momentum and inspiration to get the ball back into Palmer’s hands.  It didn’t.  Starting at their 30, Freeman handed the ball off to Martin and he proceeded to run off right guard for a 70-yard touchdown.  Barth made the point after and just like that, the Bucs led 35-17.

All the Raiders could do now was throw.  McFadden and Goodson were out with injuries and Reece was lining up in the backfield.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Reece is the most versatile player on the team.  He can play receiver, tight end, fullback and do anything that is asked of him.  Palmer hooked up with Streater for gains of eight and 15.  Then he found Moore for 26 and Reece for 17 to move the to the Tampa 17.  A holding call on guard Mike Brisiel moved them back ten yards.  Another completion to Reece and one more to Streater set up a first down at the 15.  Palmer looked for Streater in the end zone, but the pass fell incomplete.  However, the Bucs were flagged for pass interference.  On first and goal from the one, Palmer found Myers again for his second score of the day.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders now trailed 35-24 with a little under ten minutes remaining.

An onside kick by the Raiders ended up with the Bucs recovering the ball and starting their next drive at the Raider 44.  A ten-yard pass to Byham and an offside penalty on Seymour made it first and five at the 29.  From the 29, running back LeGarrette Blount and Freeman had some miscommunication on a hand-off and the ball fell to the ground and bounced crazily down the left side of the field.  A mad scramble ensued and Seymour came away with a fumble recovery.  That breathed a little more life into the Raiders and they took over at their own 35.

On third and ten, Reece caught a pass across the middle for a gain of 20 and a first down at the Tampa 45.  An incomplete pass intended for Myers, a short pass to Hagan and a short run by Jones set up a fourth and two at the at the 37.  Palmer’s pass to Moore fell incomplete, but pass interference was called on cornerback Eric Wright and that kept the drive alive and gave them a first down at the 24.  A holding penalty on Jared Veldheer moved them back ten yards, but Palmer kept his composure and he hooked up with Myers and Streater to set up a fourth and two at the 16.  Palmer took the snap and ran up the middle for three yards and a first down.  From the 13, Palmer found Reece in the end zone for a touchdown.  They decided to go for two and despite the massive pressure from the defense, Palmer got his pass off and it was caught by rookie wide receiver Juron Criner.  The score was now 35-32 with 3:51 remaining.

The Oakland faithful rose to their feet in support of the Raider defense as the Bucs started from their 20.  On first down, Martin was thrown for a loss of one.  A pass to Jackson fell incomplete and two delay of game penalties moved them back ten more yards.  A 12-yard pass to wide receiver Tiquan Underwood  gave them some breathing room and they punted the ball away.  The Raiders started at their 38 and with three timeouts, it was looking like they might be able to tie the game or even take the lead.  On first down, the Bucs brought the pressure and Palmer was hit as he threw a sideline pass intended for Streater.  The pass fell incomplete.  On second down, they dropped into coverage and Palmer’s pass intended for Moore was picked off by safety Ahmad Black.  Once again, it looked like Palmer and Moore were not on the same page.  The Bucs took over at the Raider 22 and three plays later Martin found the end zone again for his fourth touchdown of the day.  Barth made the point after and that made it 42-32 with just under two minutes to go.  Palmer was picked off again on the next drive and the Bucs ran out the clock from there.

For the Bucs, Josh Freeman completed 18 of 30 for 247 yards and two touchdowns.  Vincent Jackson led the Bucs with two catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.  Freeman spread the ball around to nine different receivers and Mike Williams and Doug Martin led the team with four receptions apiece.  Speaking of Doug Martin, the Oakland native ran for 251 yards on 25 carries and four touchdowns.  The Raider defense clearly had no answer for him.  Defensively, linebacker Lavonte David led the Bucs with 14 solo tackles and two tackles for a loss.  All totaled, the Bucs picked off Palmer three times and sacked him twice.

For the Raiders, Carson Palmer completed 39 of 61 for 414 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions.  Marcel Reece led the Raiders with eight catches for 95 yards and one touchdown.  Palmer spread the ball around to ten different receivers and managed to get the ball off despite being under heavy pressure throughout the game.  In what little time he played, Darren McFadden rushed for 17 yards on seven carries before leaving with a leg injury.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 22 yards on 11 carries.  That’s beyond pitiful.  Defensively, Tyvon Branch led the Raiders with nine solo tackles, one tackle for a loss and one pass defensed.

Well, I give the Raiders credit for not giving up when they were down 28-10.  In previous years, they would have just folded and given up.  This team kept fighting and I still don’t know why they kept throwing the ball on the drive where they were trailing by three.  They had plenty of time to mix in some running plays with Reece or Jones.  They had all of their timeouts and the two minute warning to help preserve time.  They also had Janikowski warming up on the sideline and he can kick a 60-yard field goal if needed.  All they had to do was gain about 30 yards.  That false sense of urgency is what cost them.  This loss was a complete heart breaker that dropped them to three and five.  The win improved the Bucs to four and four.  Up next is a trip to Baltimore to take on the Ravens.  The Raiders have never won in Baltimore and this will be a very tough game.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy




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