Good day, bad day for Barber
Stephen F Holder, The St.Petersburg Times, published 25 October 2010|
Among the potential goats who were exonerated by the Bucs' late comeback was CB Ronde Barber, who committed a costly offside penalty on a second quarter field goal that resulted in a St. Louis first down and subsequent touchdown.
The Rams were lined up for a 32-yard field goal attempt with 3:53 left in the first half, the Tampa Bay defense having stopped a Sam Bradford pass attempt on third down and 4. But Barber, lined up in the defense's left edge, jumped into the neutral zone just as the ball was snapped, giving the Rams five yards and a first down.
Three plays later, St. Louis scored a touchdown to take a 17-3 lead. In all, the Bucs were called for 12 penalties for 92 yards Sunday.
"There are a lot of variables in this game that you can't control," Barber said. "Them throwing yellow flags everywhere is certainly not one of them. We have nothing to do with that. All we can do is deal with our situation and try to make the best of it."
But Barber would atone for his miscue, finishing second on the team with 10 tackles, including several at the line of scrimmage on hard-charging RB Stephen Jackson.
There were a couple of unfamiliar faces in the backfield on Sunday, the result of an injury to FB Earnest Graham (hamstring) who was inactive.
In stepped converted DE Erik Lorig, starting for Graham, while RB/FB Kregg Lumpkin chipped in with a few snaps at both positions. Like Lorig, Lumpkin has only recently started playing fullback, but he performed his duties adeptly for a guy who hasn't been a blocking back since childhood.
Things weren't perfect, but the Bucs backs did prove they have the versatility to make things work even when the situation is less than optimal.
"Today was kind of like a backup plan I guess," Lumpkin said. "With Earnest being down, I was there to support Lorig and support Cadillac (Williams) and LeGarrette (Blount) and whatever they needed. It's just being prepared.
"We're just athletes, all across the board. We're able to step in when somebody's needed and do some good things."
O-line full of mistakes
There was no way to sugar-coat the penalty-filled game by the Bucs offensive line. The unit was flagged nine times for 67 yards, while negating 85 yards in potential gains — a 152-yard swing — leaving a sour taste in their mouths. "It hurt us," T Donald Penn said. "(Coach Raheem Morris) came in at halftime and said ... that it was probably the ugliest half we've played since he's been here."
Said G Davin Joseph: "We were messing up in areas that we shouldn't have — procedure penalties, holding, things of that sort. We were hurting ourself. We found a way to win and that's a positive, but there's a lot of areas we shouldn't have messed up in."
The offensive line had a different (and younger) look, with Jeremy Zuttah filling in at center (for injured Jeff Faine) for the second straight week, and Palm Harbor University product Ted Larsen making his NFL debut at left guard (for injured G Keydrick Vincent). And though Larsen had his struggles, including two penalties, he wasn't alone. Every starter other than Zuttah drew a flag.
"It's the National Football League, so you've got to play your best," Larsen said. "I made some stupid mistakes, so I'm just going to try to get better."
In the fourth quarter, with the Bucs trailing 17-12, T Jeremy Trueblood's penalty for an illegal block (away from the point of attack) thwarted a LeGarrette Blount 46 yard run, eventually leading to a punt.
And James Lee's added an unnecessary roughness penalty, for jumping on the pile late, that set up second and 22 at the Rams 49. Although the Bucs overcame the mistake, it certainly made the drive more challenging.
Joseph said that even though the line was missing two starters, it was no excuse. "We still have the same expectations," he said. "We can try to make excuses, but it's not going to get us anywhere."
Preston Parker was injured on the opening kickoff and did not return.
Tampa Bay's inactive list was full of big names Sunday, including starting FB Earnest Graham (hamstring), starting C Jeff Faine (quadriceps), starting G Keydrick Vincent (back), DT Brian Price (hip) and CB Elbert Mack (heel).
Sunday's 15 unanswered points, after a 17-3 deficit, marked the second double-digit comeback win in 2010 (trailed Browns 14-3 before winning 17-14) and seventh since 2008 for the Bucs.
For the second time this season, the Bucs did not commit a turnover and earned a victory. The Bucs are now 20-2 since 2002 when they commit no turnovers.