Final analysis: Minus the 64-yard touchdown to Peterson, the Bucs allowed just 305 yards on the other 59 offensive snaps for the Vikings. The defense registered three sacks (Te'o Neshaim, Bennett and Foster), as well as forced three turnovers that the offense turned into 10 points. Safety Ronde Barber led the team with eight tackles and a forced fumble. It was the third time this season the defense held their opponent to 17 or fewer points. Not coincidentally, they've won all three games.
Third quarter grade and analysis: Although they surrendered the long touchdown run to Adrian Peterson, the defense as a whole has done a good job of pressuring Christian Ponder and limiting the Vikings offense to 17 points thus far. They have sacked Ponder twice and have forced two fumbles, recovering both. Grade: B+
Second quarter grade and analysis: Safety Ronde Barber forced a fumble from Adrian Peterson, the second forced fumble of the half for the defense. All told, the defense held Minnesota to 184 total yards and 10 points, including 60 yards to Peterson on the ground. Daniel Te'o Nesheim recorded the only Tampa Bay sack of the half. Grade: A-
First quarter grade and analysis: Helped by the hapless Christian Ponder, the Bucs defense limited the Minnesota offense to 43 total yards and zero points. Ponder completed just one of six pass attempts for four yards, while running back Adrian Peterson was held to 39 yards on the ground. Linebacker Mason Foster recovered a Jerome Simpson fumble late in the quarter. Grade: A+
While the offense has started to figure things out and carry the load, the defense is still trying to iron out their inefficiencies. The unit is loaded with a bevy of young, raw talent at numerous positions, which has contributed to its gaffes.
That said, the Bucs have the league's third-best rush defense (76 yards per game) and its best per-rush average (3.1 per carry). The problems lie in the secondary, where they have allowed 28 plays of 20-plus yards—fourth most in the NFL.
A lot of what ails them through the air, however, has been their lack of pass rush, as the Bucs have registered only eight sacks on the season, the fourth-fewest in the NFL.