Buccaneers at Cowboys: Tampa Bay Sputters Offensively, Falls to 1-2

Knox Bardeen@knoxbardeenNFC South Lead WriterSeptember 23, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 23:   Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks for an open receiver under pressure from  DeMarcus Ware #94 of the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. The Dallas Cowboys beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16-0. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers seem to be troubled by split-personality disorder. Experts in the field call it dissociative identity disorder, when a person has two distinct identities or personality traits.

Fans of the Buccaneers know it as not knowing which team will show up on Sunday. Will the high-powered offense be present, or will it be the shut-em-down defense? Whichever one arrives, the other is nowhere to be found.

Take Week 2 in New York as an example.

The Buccaneers scored 34 points, but the defense allowed the Giants 604 yards against them and Eli Manning cruised through the Tampa Bay secondary with 510 yards passing.

Sunday, in Tampa Bay’s 16-10 loss to Dallas, the defense looked much improved, but the offense couldn’t get moving at all.

Tampa Bay had just 166 yards of total offense against the Cowboys. Josh Freeman, who had just 110 yards passing and a 36 percent completion rate, saved himself from greater embarrassment by going 4-for-8 on his last drive in the final 2:43 of the game for 71 yards.

Entering that final drive, Freeman had just 39 yards passing in the game—with under three minutes to play. I did some digging and found a 1965 game where quarterback John McCormick threw for 20 yards and went 5-for-28 and his Denver Broncos still won. In 1983, David Woodley led Miami past Buffalo even though he went 8-for-22 with just 40 yards passing.

Other than those two performances, I didn’t find any other quarterbacks that were successful throwing the ball 20 times or more for less than 100 yards.

Even with Johnson amassing 71 on that final drive, the Buccaneers still lost.

The defense did its job Sunday against Tony Romo and the Cowboys. Romo had 283 yards passing and didn’t throw a touchdown pass. He even threw an interception.

Running back DeMarco Murray was held to just 38 yards rushing on 18 carries. Tampa Bay’s defense did a great job on the potentially high-powered Dallas offense.

Holding Romo and Murray to what they got from the Buccaneers, and allowing Dallas just 16 points, should have worked out well for Tampa Bay. Heck, this offense scored 34 points last week against a better defense.

But that wasn’t the case. Freeman completed just one pass in the second half, prior to his final drive of the game. Rookie running back Doug Martin averaged 2.8 yards per carry. The Buccaneers scored on just two of its 11 drives Sunday—the first and the last, a touchdown after an interception on a short 29-yard field and a 70-yard, 11-play drive that ended with a field goal.

Tampa Bay’s final drive was its only drive of more than 40 yards all day.

The offense held the Buccaneers back on Sunday, just like the defense crushed their hopes last week against the Giants.

The only time Tampa Bay’s offense and defense arrived on the same day was Week 1, and it wasn’t terribly pretty then. Freeman threw for just 138 yards, but Martin ran for 95. The defense held Carolina to just 10 yards rushing, but gave up 303 through the air.

The Buccaneers beat the Panthers in Week 1 because at least some part of both units was working. That hasn’t been the case since, and Tampa Bay hasn’t won since.