ReFo: Buccaneers @ Lions, Week 12
Three wins on the bounce for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but this one required a lot of help from Detroit in the form of turnovers. The Lions couldn’t get out of their own way, whether it was Matthew Stafford throwing interceptions or one of the weirder fumbles you’re likely to see late in the game.
The Buccaneers certainly capitalized well on the mistakes from Detroit, but in truth the Lions should have had far too much firepower for Tampa Bay in this game and can count themselves somewhat fortunate that the Lions couldn’t stop giving them the ball.
But let’s dive inside the game a little deeper and take a look at individuals that stood out, good and bad.
Tampa Bay — Three Performances of Note
Winning the Battle of 2010
There was a lot of talk before the 2010 NFL Draft about which stud DT prospect – Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy – would be the better player at the next level. As it turns out it looks as if that draft has provided three stud 3-tech DTs in that pair and Geno Atkins, but in this game it was McCoy that outclassed Suh. The biggest difference between them, though, might not be in grade (+8.8 for McCoy and +4.1 for Suh), but in how much help each had around him. Suh was one of six members of the Detroit front seven to grade in the green in this game while McCoy was joined only by LB Lavonte David for Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers only generated 16 total pressures all game, and McCoy was responsible for eight of them. He has the kind of quickness and strength to dominate linemen at this level and he has really been playing well this season. His lowest grade of the year so far was a +1.0 back against the Saints and this +8.8 represents a new career high.
Anytime a guy with Tiquan Underwood’s hair has a big day you’ve got to love it! His pair of touchdowns came on just five targets, and though Timothy Wright was arguably a bigger part of the offense, catching eight of the nine targets thrown his way for 75 yards, Underwood came up huge with an 85-yard reception for a score over Chris Houston that ultimately proved to be the difference between the two sides. On that play, Underwood threatened Houston’s leverage well before breaking back inside the Lions corner and hauling in the catch. He still had plenty of work to do from that point, though, and succeeded in rubbing salt in Houston’s wound by stiff-arming him away from any chance of a tackle before covering the rest of the distance to the goal line. Mike Glennon didn’t need to air the ball out too much in this game but he hit big passes at key times, none moreso than the bomb to Underwood.
Revis vs Megatron a Letdown
It wasn’t long ago that this would have been a marquee matchup of any NFL week, but with Revis still working his way back from injury and trapped in Tampa Bay’s toothless zone scheme, we saw an extremely watered down version of the encounter. Revis was thrown at five times, four of those intended for Johnson, and the big receiver came down with three of them for 44 yards. Much of that was the cause of loose zone defense, but there was a quick slant play that broke open by virtue of a relatively rare weak missed tackle from Revis. On the other side Johnthan Banks didn’t fare a whole lot better, surrendering four catches on six targets for 82 yards, and helping his day out only by snagging an interception on a ball deflected out of Johnson’s hands after he had been beaten for the catch. Revis may not be Revis yet, but I think even at a limited level he’s a better option in man coverage than he is in loose zones.
Detroit — Three Performances of Note
I haven’t been the biggest fan of Ziggy Ansah as a prospect from the moment I saw some college tape and couldn’t quite marry it with the hype I was hearing. He’s an impressive athlete, but most of the plays he made have been down to that and little else. Any time he was actually accounted for by anybody vaguely capable he went AWOL. The same thing has rang true to a degree in the NFL. Though his numbers look good enough, a lot of the plays he has made owe something to good fortune or other defenders. This was not the case in this game. He earned a pair of sacks and another two hurries as well as impacting the run game on his own merit. He certainly got help from the rest of the D-line and linebackers performing well, but he was beating his man in a way I haven’t seen too often from him in the past. This has to be hugely encouraging for Lions fans because, as I mentioned, there is no doubting his athleticism, and if he can couple that with some improved technique and experience he could very well emerge into the kind of player I haven’t given him credit for being in the past.
If there’s one single-stat that really does impact football games it is turnovers. Every time you turn the ball over without taking one back yourself you massively affect your chances of winning the game, and the Lions couldn’t seem to prevent themselves from stacking the deck against themselves in this game. Matthew Stafford threw four picks, and yet his grade ended up only barely below average. That is because not all of those picks were entirely his fault. Those that were featured a collection of ugly his supporters would have hoped didn’t feature anymore in his game. He threw aimless balls in the direction of Calvin Johnson but straight towards safeties on multiple occasions and threw a rushed ball slightly behind Brandon Pettigrew that resulted in seven points going the other way. His final interception, however, was cruel. Throwing a fine pass to Johnson down by the Tampa Bay goal line late in the game, Stafford hit on a pass that should have set the Lions up with a chance to win the game. Instead, Johnson had the ball hit free from his grasp and land in the hands of Banks to ice the game. As unfortunate as that was, it doesn’t win most ridiculous turnover of the day, which goes to WR Kris Durham for somehow conspiring to throw the ball back infield as he was falling out of bounds down the left sideline for a fumble.
Riley Reiff has had an up and down season at LT, recording now four games in the green (this game was a +2.6 grade, his second best of the year), but also three in the red, with another four average games in the middle. He surrendered just a pair of pressures in this game – or at least a pair that stood – he was beaten twice more for pressures on plays that were nullified by penalties and once on a play where the ball was gone before his man could actually hurry the quarterback. He did, however, run block well and add to his positive grade on the season in that area. This is the first season starting at left tackle for Reiff and the first season in a while the Lions have had new blood at LT, and as yet it could still go either way.
– Tampa Bay dropped DT Akeem Spence into coverage three times, along with once for DE Adrian Clayborn and once for DE William Gholston.
– Stafford went deep (20+ air yards) eight times, completing just one pass for 18 yards and a score while throwing two picks.
– On plays where he wasn’t hurried, Glennon had a perfect passer rating of 158.3
PFF Game Ball
In a winning effort and doing much of the heavy lifting on his own, Gerald McCoy outshone the man that outshone him in the 2010 draft to take the game ball.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam