Bucs Game Grades

August 24 - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were crushed by the visiting Washington Redskins on Saturday night, 40-10. Tampa Bay turned the ball over seven times and committed 10 penalties. Which players fared well? Which players didn't? Pewter Report has distributed grades based on the Buccaneers' performance against the Washington Redskins on Saturday night.

QUARTERBACKS
Bucs starting quarterback Brad Johnson led the team downfield on the first drive of the game. He threw a couple of nice passes under pressure, but he threw an interception in Redskins territory, which halted the drive that was aided by three Washington offsides penalties. On the Bucs' second drive of the game, Johnson nearly had a bad pass picked off, and he had a pass intended for Keenan McCardell intercepted two-plays later by CB Champ Bailey. Johnson rebounded in the middle of the second quarter when he hit McCardell in the back of the end zone for Tampa Bay's only touchdown of the night -- Johnson's first of the preseason. Johnson completed 9-of-14 passes for 90 yards and threw one touchdown and two interceptions.

Bucs second-string QB Rob Johnson entered the game with 5:20 remaining in the second quarter. Gruden kept the starting unit in to play with Rob Johnson for a bit. In the third quarter, the Bucs had great field position thanks to PR Aaron Lockett's 31-yard punt return, but Johnson held onto the ball too long and was sacked on the second play of that drive, which resulted in a fumble and allowed Redskins DT Del Cowsette to pick it up and run 66 yards upfield for a Redskin touchdown, which put Washington up, 23-10. Rob Johnson completed 6-of-14 passes for 54 yards and didn't throw any touchdowns or interceptions. Johnson was sacked twice.

Bucs third-string QB Shaun King entered the game in the beginning of the fourth quarter. He didn't fare much better than Johnson and Johnson. King was picked off by Redskins LB Donte Curry late in the fourth quarter, which was returned for a touchdown, which put Washington up, 40-10. King completed 4-of-7 passes for 24 yards and threw one interception. King was sacked one time.

*Tampa Bay's offense was just 3-of-12 on third down conversions. Brad Johnson didn't play great, but Rob Johnson and Shaun King didn't play much better.

GRADE: C-


RUNNING BACKS
Tampa Bay starting running back Michael Pittman didn't play on Saturday night. Bucs head coach Jon Gruden decided to keep Pittman, who still is nursing an ankle sprain, out of the game.

Bucs RB Aaron Stecker started in Pittman's place. Stecker got some running room in the second quarter. He rushed for a first down and on the very next play, he hauled in a pass on a screen-play, which moved the ball 12-yards up the field. The play put the Bucs inside Washington's red zone. Stecker rushed five times for 33 yards (6.6 avg.). Stecker also caught two passes for 18 yards.

Bucs fullback Jameel Cook caught a 10-yard pass from Rob Johnson in the third quarter, which gave the Bucs a first down. Cook hauled in a pass from QB Shaun King in the fourth quarter, but he fumbled the ball, which gave Washington the ball at Tampa Bay's 43-yard line.

Tampa Bay fullback Mike Alstott was ineffective as a lead-blocker. He was ineffective as a rusher, too. He rushed two times for five yards.

Bucs rookie RB Travis Stephens fumbled late in the fourth quarter after a five-yard gain. It was his second fumble of the night and fourth of the preseason. Stephens rushed 13 times for 65 yards (5.0 avg.).

Tampa Bay's offense turned the ball over six times against Washington. The Bucs rushed for over 100 yards against the Redskins' defense, but the running game was very inconsistent.

GRADE: D+


WIDE RECEIVERS:
Bucs wide receiver Keenan McCardell caught a 10-yard pass for a first down. McCardell made a fantastic diving catch in the end zone for Tampa Bay's first touchdown in the second quarter. McCardell hauled in four passes for 32 yards and scored one touchdown, and was one of the few bright spots for the team on Saturday night.

Tampa Bay WR Joe Jurevicius hauled in 7-yard pass, which led to another first down on first drive of the game.

Bucs WR Keyshawn Johnson was called for pass interference on the Bucs' second offensive series of the game. Johnson hauled in a 7-yard pass on the same drive. Johnson caught one pass for seven yards.

Bucs rookie WR Marquise Walker dropped a perfect pass from King in the fourth quarter. Walker did a nice job of getting open down the sideline, but he dropped an easy catch.

Tampa Bay's wide receivers weren't able to get much separation downfield against Washington's secondary. The fact that the Bucs' quarterbacks were under tremendous pressure didn't give them much time to get downfield, either.

GRADE: C


TIGHT ENDS:
Bucs tight end Ken Dilger gave Tampa Bay's offense life in the second quarter when he hauled in a pass from Brad Johnson and rumbled 31-yards upfield and into Redskins' territory. Dilger hauled in a pass for an 18-yard gain on third down with under 2:00 remaining in the second quarter. Dilger caught three passes for 59 yards.

Bucs tight end Marco Battaglia caught one pass for a 7-yard gain.

Even the tight ends couldn't help hold off Washington's blitz packages, which disrupted Tampa Bay's offense all night.

GRADE: B-


OFFENSIVE LINE:
Bucs left guard Kerry Jenkins made a nice cut block to allow RB Aaron Stecker to gain 12 yards in the first quarter. Jenkins was really the only offensive lineman to play well on Saturday night.

Tampa Bay starting right tackle Kenyatta Walker played the entire game, and Jerry Wunsch didn't play at all, which might be the biggest sign yet that suggests Wunsch's days in Tampa are numbered. Walker was inconsistent at right tackle throughout the night and Bucs right guard Todd Washington didn't fare well at all in pass protection or the running game. Washington has been playing with swelling in his knee.

The Buccaneers' starting offensive line played into the third quarter, but they struggled as a unit. They allowed three sacks and they didn't provide the quarterbacks with much time to throw. They were less than stellar in terms of run blocking, too.

Tampa Bay was penalized 10 times for 126 yards against Washington.

GRADE: D+


DEFENSIVE LINE:
Bucs right defensive end Simeon Rice made a nice pass deflection on Washington's first offensive play of the game. Rice made zero tackles on Saturday night.

Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp got good pressure on QB Shane Matthews on a couple of occasions. But he was called for two personal fouls on Saturday night, one of which came while he was on the sideline after he disputed a pass interference call on CB Corey Ivy. Sapp recorded one tackle.

Tampa Bay starting left defensive end Marcus Jones sprained his knee toward the end of the first quarter. He recorded one tackle before leaving. He wasn't much of a force in terms of rushing the quarterback before the injury occurred.

Bucs defensive end Greg Spires filled in for Jones and recorded a sack in the third quarter. Spires also recorded three tackles and filled in well for Jones.

Tampa Bay backup DE Ron Warner sacked Ramsey in the third quarter. He was able to penetrate Washington's backfield on several occasions. Warner recorded five tackles against the Redskins. He might have been Tampa Bay's most impressive defensive player.

Bucs backup right end Corey Smith sacked Ramsey in the fourth quarter, which knocked the ball loose, but the refs ruled Ramsey down before the fumble. Smith recorded two tackles.

*Tampa Bay's defense held Washington to 75 yards rushing. The Redskins averaged 3.9 yards per carry. The defense also recorded four sacks.

GRADE: C


LINEBACKERS:
Bucs starting middle linebacker Shelton Quarles didn't play against the Redskins on Saturday night. He still is nursing a sore calf muscle.

Bucs backup MLB Nate Webster started in Quarles' place, but struggled against the run. Webster recorded three tackles.

Tampa Bay backup linebacker Justin Smith recorded five tackles against Washington. He sacked Ramsey in the fourth quarter when he rushed into the backfield untouched on a blitz.

GRADE: C-


SECONDARY:
Bucs cornerback Dwight Smith got beat by WR Rod Gardner down the sideline for a 23-yard touchdown. Redskins QB Shane Matthews pump faked, which froze Smith, and then threw a perfect strike on the play. Smith recorded two tackles and had a rough outing against Washington.

Bucs CB Ronde Barber recorded three tackles against the Redskins.

Tampa Bay cornerback Terrell Buckley was called for pass interference at the beginning of the second quarter. The penalty placed the Redskins' offense on the Bucs' 1-yard line. Buckley recorded one tackle.

Bucs starting free safety Dexter Jackson wracked up the tackles against Washington. He made a touchdown-saving tackle on a Redskins' screen-play at the beginning of the second quarter. Washington had to settle for a field goal, which put them up, 10-0. Jackson recorded four tackles against Washington.

Bucs CB Corey Ivy was called for pass interference on WR Jacquez Green in the middle of the second quarter. The call was bogus, but it set Washington up near Tampa Bay's red zone. Ivy recorded two tackles.

Bucs backup free safety Jermaine Phillips wasn't fooled by a flee-flicker late in the second quarter. He intercepted the pass deep downfield. Phillips came close to grabbing his second interception of the game late in the third quarter, but he couldn't hold onto Ramsey's pass in the end zone. He recorded three tackles.

Bucs backup safety John Howell intercepted QB Patrick Ramsey in the third quarter. He returned it 27 yards and set the Bucs' offense up at Washington's 30-yard line. Howell's interception led to a 48-yard field goal, which made the score, 16-10 Washington.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Ramsey connected with WR Jacquez Green in the back of the end zone for a touchdown, which put the Redskins up, 33-10. Bucs safety David Gibson and CB Tim Wansley were covering Green. Wansley recorded two tackles while Gibson finished the game with one.

*Tampa Bay's defense allowed Washington to complete 18-of-35 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns.

GRADE: C-


SPECIAL TEAMS:
Bucs kicker returner Frank Murphy did an excellent job of securing good field position for the offense. He averaged 19.8 yards per return and had a long of 25 yards.

Bucs punter Tom Tupa didn't put much on a punt toward the end of the first quarter. The punt went 31 yards and allowed Washington to start at its own 23-yard line. Tupa got off a 48-yarder with under 1:00 remaining in the first half. He punted three times and averaged 42.7 yards per punt.

Tampa Bay blocked an extra point attempt in the second quarter, which only allowed Washington to go up, 16-7 instead of, 17-7.

Tampa Bay kicker Martin Gramatica drilled a 48-yard field goal in the third quarter. The field goal was set up by Howell's interception.

Bucs rookie CB Tim Wansley made an awesome tackle the the kickoff following Gramatica's field goal.

Bucs rookie punt Aaron Lockett returned a Washington 37-yard punt 31 yards to put Tampa Bay near Washington's red zone.

Bucs RB Travis Stephens tripped over his own teammate -- RB Dicenzo Miller -- after he fielded a kickoff, which caused him to fumble. The Redskins got the ball at Tampa Bay's 28-yard line.

Bucs long snapper Mike Solwold was called for a personal foul -- late hit out of bounds -- on a Jacquez Green punt return. The penalty gave the Redskins the ball at the 41-yard line toward the end of the third quarter.

GRADE: B-


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