Bucs Drive Analysis: Week 1

Each Week Bucsblitz.com will break down a key drive from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' most recent game. The Drive breaks down every play of a drive, analyzes its importance in the game and why that drive mattered to a Bucs victory or defeat. In this week's debut, Matthew Postins breaks down the drive that sealed Tampa Bay's loss.

THE DRIVE: The Bucs, down 24-21, started from their own 49-yard line with 2:24 left in the game. This was after a 14-yard punt return by the Bucs' Dexter Jackson.

PLAY 1: QB Jeff Garcia hits WR Antonio Bryant for a 12-yard gain to the Saints' 39-yard line.

ANALYSIS: Bryant's debut for the Bucs was a solid one, as he caught three passes for 43 yards. He got the start over Ike Hilliard. Hilliard had a bigger impact, though, catching 6 passes for 45 yards and a touchdown. Bryant appears to be fitting in well, so well in fact the Bucs left WR Michael Clayton inactive.

PLAY 2: Garcia's pass was incomplete. Saints DT Sedrick Ellis was applying pressure.

ANALYSIS: In Garcia's first extended duty of the season, he was spotty. He went 24-of-41 for 221 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He clearly wasn't the same quarterback he was at this time last year when he had a full preseason to learn the offense and develop chemistry with his teammates. That will likely come, but Garcia is now questionable with an ankle injury. Could his body be breaking down after 38 years? We'll see. Brian Griese is waiting.

PLAY 3: Garcia connected with TE Alex Smith for an 11-yard gain to the Saints 28, moving the chains.

ANALYSIS: I'll never understand why Smith isn't featured more in the offense. He's a big target with good hands and solid speed. He should be catching 4-6 passes per game, opening up the middle for the rest of the wide receivers. Instead he caught 2 passes for 19 yards and had little impact on the game.

PLAY 4: Garcia is sacked by DE Bobby McCray for a 7-yard loss.

ANALYSIS: Garcia was sacked twice and hurried six times. But this was an inopportune time for a breakdown. Needing a touchdown to win, Garcia not only made it harder to score, but harder to move the chains. The Bucs had just one timeout remaining and were trying to save it. They did, but they lost precious time in the process.

PLAY 5: Garcia and Galloway connect for an 11-yard gain to the Saints 24.

ANALYSIS: Galloway played for the first time all season and caught six passes for 56 yards. But his longest catch was 13 yards and he and Garcia clearly weren't on the same page on deep routes, something that wasn't a problem last year. As I wrote earlier, the injury to Garcia kept him from creating chemistry with his teammates, specifically Galloway. Galloway usually torches the Saints. He didn't on Sunday.

PLAY 6: Garcia underthrew a sliding Galloway on the outside on 3rd-and-6 form the Saints 24.

ANALYSIS: The Bucs were 2-of-12 on third down on Sunday, a horrible figure even for the Bucs, who traditionally don't convert third downs well to begin with. Their only third-down conversions of the game came on their scoring drive in the fourth quarter, as Garcia hit Hilliard twice for third-down receptions, the latter giving the Bucs a 20-17 lead with 10:43 left. The Bucs can't expect to win with that kind of third-down conversion rate.

PLAY 7: On 4th-and-6 from the Saints 24, Garcia threw an interception to Saints LB Scott Fujita, ending the drive.

ANALYSIS: This was a case of Garcia being hurried into a decision and forcing a pass into Bryant, who was double covered. The Saints had six defensive backs in the game and they were still able to apply pressure to Garcia up front.

The Bucs have to work on their third-down game if they expect to win against Atlanta on Sunday. They wasted too many opportunities to win on Sunday due to their inability to sustain drives consistently.

Matthew Postins is the editor and publisher of bucsblitz.com.

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