1. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrated America's heroes – the military and veterans – on Sunday, but it was some unlikely heroes that won the game for them against the San Diego Chargers. Tight end Dallas Clark and wide receiver Tiquan Underwood only combined for three catches, but two of them went for touchdowns. Defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim had a big-time sack in the fourth quarter that led to an interception on the next play. Undrafted rookie free agents LeQuan Lewis and Leonard Johnson each had an interception, the latter returned one 83 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Backup linebacker Dekoda Watson blocked a punt in the second quarter and backup linebacker Adam Hayward scooped it up and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown. Yes, studs like Josh Freeman, Doug Martin, and Lavonte David played well. However, it was the unexpected contributions from those other players that earn Tampa Bay the victory.
2. Defensive Gerald McCoy officially only finished with one tackle, but he had a profound impact on the game. After the Bucs defense gave up 218 passing yards and three touchdowns to Philip Rivers in the first half, McCoy went to his coaches at half time and told them to let the defensive line do more standard rushing instead of lateral stunting at the snap. The coaches listened to the defensive captain and made the nessessary adjustments in the second half. It paid off because Rivers threw for only 105 yards after half time and the Chargers only scored three more points. Credit McCoy for realizing this and speaking his mind and credit the coaches for going away from their game plan and trusting their player. McCoy was also one of the reasons why Rivers threw two interceptions in the second half; he applied pressure on both of the plays right before Rivers forced the passes.
3. It was sad to see Quincy Black leave the game on a stretcher on the second half. The former third-round pick out of New Mexico was having his best game of the season before he suffered a serious neck injury after making a tackle for a loss on running back Ryan Mathews in the third quarter. The two banged into each other in what looked like a helmet-to-helmet collision and Black was down on the field for several minutes before the cart came out. Black finished with six tackles, including two for a loss. Black was released from the hospital this morning and is awaiting test results, but Buccaneers101.com wonders if Sunday's game will be the last time fans see Black in pewter and red. Black signed a 5-year, $29 million deal in 2011 with $11.5 million guaranteed. Black's guaranteed money has already been paid and he is scheduled to make $5.5 million over the next three seasons. That is a lot for a linebacker that only plays in the base 4-3 defense. Black is clearly not as good as Lavonte David or Mason Foster and Bucs have Dekoda Watson waiting in the wings to take over. Whether or not Black is back with the Bucs next season, we wish him a speedy recovery.
4. A week after getting flagged 16 times – 14 of which were accepted for 116 yards – the Bucs played a near-perfect game against the Chargers. They only had one penalty called on them all afternoon; a questionable defensive holding call against free safety Ronde Barber early in the game. It cost the Bucs five yards and gave San Diego a first down, but that was the first and last time the team would be penalized. In fact, the Chargers also only had one penalty for five yards. Buccaneers101.com can't remember the last time it saw such a well-played, clean game of football. A game with only just two penalties almost never happens nowadays and kudos to the Bucs for making such a drastic turnaround a week after they racked up far too many infractions.
5. It is very apparent that the Bucs need to address the cornerback position the moment their season is over. While they clamped down defensively in the second half, the defense still allowed 337 yards passing to Rivers, which is more than their season average. When Eric Wright, now Tampa Bay's No. 1 corner, went down with an injury in the second half, the Bucs made a bold and interesting move. In some three- and four-wide receiver sets, the Bucs elected to play just two corners – E.J. Biggers and Leonard Johnson – and three linebackers against Rivers and co. It just goes to show you that the Bucs' coaching staff had very little trust in draft-bust Myron Lewis and newly-promoted LeQuan Lewis. Eventually, the Bucs were forced to play the latter Lewis and he came through with game-clinching interception late in the game. Maybe that pick changes some opinions, but let's see what happens next week if Wright's injury keeps him out of action.
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