Plagued by penalties,
The Bucs continued to be plagued by penalties, especially personal fouls. They had three in their season-opening loss to the Jets, with S Dashon Goldson and LB Lavonte David each fined for their hits. And on Sunday, Tampa Bay was flagged for three more personal fouls on hits. In the second quarter, DE Adrian Clayborn sacked Drew Brees, forcing a fumble, but was called for unnecessary roughness, his hit ruled too high.
Three plays later, Goldson was flagged for unnecessary roughness for his hit over the middle on RB Darren Sproles. Goldson, who was fined $30,000 for a hit on Jets TE Jeff Cumberland in Week 1, acknowledge the Bucs could get targeted by referees as repeat offenders but believes they're just playing physical football.
"It hurts us as a football team, but that's who we are," Goldson said. "The NFL has its own rules, but we're just trying to play football. We're not worried about those penalties, we're really not. That's just football. We learn how to tackle when we're young and been doing this for a long time."
Late in the second quarter, S Ahmad Black was called for his helmet-to-helmet hit on TE Jimmy Graham. "We're not going to stop and grab their jersey and pull them down," Black said. "We're going to play football like we've been playing. We can try to change it a little bit so we don't get any fines or make our team get flagged. But we're playing football." Graham said getting hit like that is the "nature of the position."
"All is well," Graham said. "I'm a big guy, 270 (pounds). So I can take hits like that." But after taking 13 penalties in Week 1, the Bucs had 10 for 118 yards Sunday. They lead the league in number of penalties and yards (220). Coach Greg Schiano said they'll continue to emphasize hitting in the "strike zone."
"We've been through stretches like this, and then it kind of balances out usually," Schiano said. "Hopefully, that'll occur."
Wait for it
Bucs fans who had waited all offseason to see Tampa Bay's offense in person had to wait a little longer — 69 minutes longer to be exact, as the game was suspended with 10:30 left in the first quarter due to lightning and inclement weather around the stadium.
After New Orleans drove for a field goal on its opening drive, the Bucs offense had taken the field for their first play, from their 20. But as heavy rains, lightning and gusts of wind swept in, the teams returned to their locker rooms and fans were asked to seek shelter in the concourse areas of the stadium.
The teams returned to the field an hour later and the game resumed at 5:28 p.m. Counting the delay, the game lasted 4 hours and 31 minutes. The NFL's season opening Broncos-Ravens game was delayed by lightning last week, and Sunday's Seahawks-49ers game also had an early delay due to lightning.
Nice starting point
It took former Florida State LB Dekoda Watson 47 games to get his first NFL interception, but the fourth-year pro set the tone for a strong defensive night, picking off a pass from Drew Brees in the first quarter. Watson dropped back in coverage and leaped to catch a pass intended for Saints WR Lance Moore.
It was Brees' first pass after a 69-minute weather delay, and Watson's interception sparked the Bucs offense. Tampa Bay took advantage of the field position and drove 35 yards, capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass from Josh Freeman to Kevin Ogletree for a 7-3 lead.
In two wins against the Bucs last season, Brees threw just one interception, but Bucs linebackers came up with two Sunday, including Mason Foster's 85-yard return for a touchdown. "We have a promising linebacker corps. I'm not trying to brag on us, but we've got a lot of potential," Watson said. "We have to continue to make plays, stick together and discipline ourselves."
Veteran K Rian Lindell had a chance to give the Bucs a much-needed extra cushion late in Sunday's game, but his 47-yard attempt with 1:06 sailed wide left, and Tampa Bay's lead remained just 14-13. That proved costly as QB Drew Brees led New Orleans to the winning field goal as time expired.
Lindell, who hit a clutch 37-yarder in the final minute to give the Bucs the lead in their season-opening loss, made no excuses. "I didn't do my part," Lindell said. "I didn't hit it obviously like I wanted to. I wasn't worried about the distance. It didn't go straight."