Bucs Game Grades

October 13 - The Buccaneers improved to 5-1 on the season by defeating the Browns on Sunday, 17-3. Which players fared well? Which players didn't? PewterReport.com has distributed grades based on the Buccaneers' performance against the Browns on Sunday.

INACTIVES:

QB Shaun King, FB Darian Barnes, T Tutan Reyes, DE Corey Smith, CB Tim Wansley, RB Travis Stephens, WR Charles Lee, WR Reggie Barlow

QUARTERBACKS
Tampa Bay QB Brad Johnson might have had his worst game of the season in terms of performance. He was inconsistent and made some very risky throws against Cleveland. Johnson completed 15-of-32 passes for 194 yards and he threw no touchdowns and one interception. Johnson's interception came deep inside Cleveland territory. He threw the ball to WR Keyshawn Johnson, who was tightly covered. K. Johnson was drilled and the ball popped up in the air and was intercepted. Johnson was flagged twice for intentional grounding. The first penalty came with :06 remaining in the first half. Tampa Bay was in field goal range, but the penalty not only knocked them out of field goal range, but by rule, it made time expire in the first half.

*Tampa Bay was 6-of-14 (43 percent) on third downs against Cleveland.

GRADE: C-


RUNNING BACKS
Tampa Bay FB Mike Alstott didn't see much action until the second half, but he certainly made the most of it on Sunday. "The A-Train" carried the ball 17 times for 126 yards (7.4 avg.). and scored two touchdowns. Alstott was a man on a mission. He broke seven tackles on a 25-yard rushing play and five tackles on another. Alstott bulled over tired Cleveland defenders and helped secure Tampa Bay's victory. Alstott also caught two passes for 13 yards.

Bucs RB Michael Pittman, who was suffering from a stomach virus on Sunday, rushed 16 times for 53 yards (3.3 avg.). Most of Pittman's action came in the first half. He missed a good portion of the second half due to fatigue. Pittman's biggest play of the game came on the team's first offensive drive. He hauled in a pass from Johnson in the flat, which would have gone for a 1-yard gain. But Pittman did a nice job of shaking the defender and turning a short gain into a 64-yard gain. His long reception led to Alstott's first touchdown run, which put the Bucs up 7-0. Pittman caught five passes for 95 yards.

*Tampa Bay rushed for 186 yards and averaged 4.6 yards per carry against Cleveland. Alstott and Pittman caught seven passes for a total of 108 yards.

GRADE: A


WIDE RECEIVERS:
Tampa Bay WR Keyshawn Johnson had a ball pop out of his hands and into a Cleveland defender's in the first half. The pass shouldn't have been thrown and Johnson was drilled after he touched the ball, but the play still led to a turnover. But Johnson made some big catches across the middle of the field against Cleveland's Cover 2 defense. Johnson caught four balls for 64 yards, including a long of 22 yards. Johnson also made some terrific blocks downfield for Alstott.

Bucs WR Keenan McCardell was double covered early and often against Cleveland. He caught just one pass for seven yards.

Tampa Bay WR Joe Jurevicius hardly saw action against Cleveland and didn't have any receptions.

GRADE: B-


TIGHT ENDS:
Tampa Bay tight ends Ken Dilger and Rickey Dudley did a nice job of blocking on the offensive line. Neither was in the game at the same time much on Sunday. Dilger caught one pass in the first quarter, which picked up seven yards.

Dudley caught one pass for three yards.

GRADE: C+


OFFENSIVE LINE:
Tampa Bay's offensive line provided Johnson with time to throw, for the most part. Johnson wasn't sacked at all on Sunday. Although Johnson was knocked the to ground after throws on several occasions, a lot of them were his own fault due to holding onto the ball too long or rolling out of the pocket and into defenders. They didn't fare well while Pittman was in the game, but the offensive line came to life when Alstott started to take the majority of the carries. Alstott was able to find more cutback lanes than Pittman.

GRADE: B+


DEFENSIVE LINE:
The Buccaneers' defensive line was able to pressure Browns QB Tim Couch often and they sacked him twice. Both sacks were recorded by Bucs DT Warren Sapp, who raised plenty of havoc in the trenches and recorded six tackles. Bucs nose tackle Anthony McFarland started despite suffering from a foot sprain. McFarland recorded one tackle. Cleveland ran to the strongside often on Sunday, but Tampa Bay DE Greg Spires did an excellent job of anchoring that side for the defense. He recorded three tackles. Bucs DE Simeon Rice also had three tackles.

*Tampa Bay's defense only allowed Cleveland to rush for 60 yards and average 3.3 yards per carry.

GRADE: A


LINEBACKERS:
Tampa Bay middle linebacker Shelton Quarles had a fantastic game and was an awesome force against Cleveland's rushing attack. The Browns continued to pound the ball up the middle of the field, but never really got anywhere because of Quarles, who recorded eight tackles. Bucs weakside linebacker Derrick Brooks also played the run well and recorded eight tackles. Tampa Bay strongside linebacker Al Singleton recorded one tackle.

*Cleveland was 6-of-17 (35 percent) on third downs.

GRADE: A


SECONDARY:
Cleveland's offense came into Tampa Bay with the 10th ranked offense in the NFL. The Browns' wide receivers were the biggest reason why they'd been so successful, but the Bucs' secondary contained them on Sunday. Bucs SS John Lynch started and played well despite playing with a knee sprain. Lynch recorded two tackles and two passes defended. One of those passes defensed came on a third-and-5 play in the first quarter when Lynch got a hand in to block a pass intended for Browns WR Andre' Davis. The pass went up in the air and into CB Ronde Barber's hands for an interception. Barber recorded five tackles on Sunday. He was called for a personal foul in the second half, but the "unnecessary roughness" call was a bogus one since Barber had clearly tackled the Cleveland receiver in bounds. Tampa Bay CB Brian Kelly had a phenomenal game. He made several open field tackles and had great coverage against Cleveland's receivers. Kelly recorded seven tackles and defended two passes. Bucs CB Dwight Smith saw plenty of action due to Cleveland running so many three-wide receiver sets. He did a nice job and recorded one tackle. Smith delivered a huge hit on a WR Kevin Johnson that nearly caused a fumble, but the pass was ruled incomplete. Bucs FS Dexter Jackson recorded two tackles and made some nice plays. Tampa Bay backup S John Howell did a nice job of filling in for Lynch on occasion.

*Tampa Bay only allowed Cleveland QB Tim Couch to complete 20-of-40 passes (50 percent) and he only threw for 151 yards.

GRADE: A


SPECIAL TEAMS:
Tampa Bay punt returner Karl Williams had an excellent day. He had a 43-yard return in the second quarter, which eventually led to a field goal. Williams received great blocks from RB Aaron Stecker, TE Todd Yoder and CB Brian Kelly. Williams had another great return in the fourth quarter. This one went for a 42-yard gain. Bucs CB Ronde Barber made a key block on that return.

Tampa Bay K Martin Gramatica had one field goal blocked and missed another on Sunday. Another field goal attempt in the fourth quarter never got off as there was a bad snap. Needless to say, long snapper Morris Unutoa and Tampa Bay's field goal unit have seen better days. Gramatica drilled a 33-yarder in the second quarter to put the Bucs up 10-0. On the blocked field goal, TE Rickey Dudley missed a block, which allowed a Cleveland CB Anthony Henry to shoot around the corner and block Gramatica's kick. Gramatica did a nice job of kicking the ball out of bounds so Cleveland could not recover the ball and return it for a touchdown. Bucs P Tom Tupa averaged 41.3 yards per punt against the Browns.

GRADE: C-


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