For the third week in a row, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to confuse and shock everyone who watches them.
This week in Dallas, the Buccaneers amazingly were able to lose a game in nearly the exact opposite manner that they lost last week against the New York Giants.
Unlike last week when the defense gave up more than 600 yards of total offense, the defense shined.
The defensive line in particular looked fantastic, as Gerald McCoy, Michael Bennett and Adrian Clayborn harassed Tony Romo. They sacked him four times and forcing him into two fumbles and an interception.
Against the run, with the help of Roy Miller (among others) the Tampa Bay defensive line held RB DeMarco Murray to only 38 yards on 11 carries. Mason Foster and Lavonte David once again showed maturity and skill, using their big men up front to open up clear pathways to the ball-carrier.
On the back end, things weren't perfect, as Romo was able to put together a few nice completions to Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Kevin Ogletree, ending with 283 yards. The Bucs still look susceptible to the big play, but they did well when provided with a pass-rush.
On the other side of the ball, Josh Freeman and the Buccaneers offense looked like a different group than the unit that put up 34 points just a week ago.
Tampa Bay mustered only 166 total yards of offense, 70 of which came on a last-ditch drive in the fourth quarter that ended in a Connor Barth field goal.
Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan seemed confused as to how to attack the Dallas defense and became extremely predictable, calling a very vanilla offense despite being behind on the scoreboard.
In his defense, the receivers were not able to get any separation, forcing Freeman to take multiple hits (five) and sacks (two). Doug Martin and the running game were rendered somewhat ineffective as well, averaging only three yards per carry as a team.
Despite the 16-10 loss, the two most disheartening aspects of this game may be the apparent knee injury to Adrian Clayborn, which had him carted off the field, and the antics as time ran down.
After much to-do about head coach Greg Schiano having his players make efforts to submarine the opposing offensive line on kneel-down plays, he again used this tactic in the final seconds. Unlike last week, however, he called the play three times, using two timeouts in the process.
After the second timeout, the defensive players—who honestly were the only reason this situation was even possible—seemed frustrated with Schiano's call (so much so that Schiano berated the unit in the huddle).
After a very sloppy game and an ending like this, Tampa Bay seems primed for a situation where a disciplinarian coach such as Schiano could lose his team.
The only cure for this mess might be victories.
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