Deep ball reappears in Bucs offense
Through nine games, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were basically unable to get the ball to Vincent Jackson down the field. That weakness was addressed in dynamic fashion during Sunday's 41-28 victory against the Falcons. Tampa Bay's 1-8 start included only one completion longer than 40 yards. That exception came when Jackson made a one-handed catch at Atlanta a month ago and turned it into a 59-yard touchdown.
In Sunday's rematch, Jackson capitalized on his size advantage and hauled in receptions of 53 and 47 yards from rookie Mike Glennon en route to a huge day. “We're going to take our shots every week,'' Jackson said.
Jackson caught 10 of the 12 balls thrown his way for 165 yards, including a 3-yard score over Desmond Trufant that put Tampa Bay ahead 38-6 late in the third quarter. By that time, Jackson had already ravaged Atlanta's secondary. In the second quarter, Jackson's 47-yard catch down the right sideline over Asante Samuel led to Tampa Bay's initial touchdown.
Jackson's 53-yard reception in the third quarter against safety Thomas DeCoud led to another score. “He made a lot of tough catches — you've got to give it to him,'' Trufant said. “I know specifically on mine in the corner, I was right there. He just made a great catch.''
Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis has enjoyed watching the rapport between Glennon and Jackson grow in the past seven games. “Those guys work on it in practice, then they work on it after practice,'' Revis said. “They're getting that chemistry going. Vincent is 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. He's huge, and that makes it real tough for defensive backs to get around him. And, as you can see today, he's really good on the deep ball.''
Even while the Bucs have been forced to recast their offensive backfield due to injuries, their running game has been potent three straight weeks. “We're finally putting it all together,'' left tackle Donald Penn said. “The running back is hitting the right hole, receivers are blocking downfield and the fullback's playing great. We're sticking with the run, and that makes it so much easier for Mike Glennon.''
Since Jamon Meredith became a starter at left guard for the injured Carl Nicks, an offensive line that struggled to open holes suddenly owns the line of scrimmage. “We've been committed to starting the game off with the run and not letting people take it away,'' center Jeremy Zuttah said after the Bucs gouged Atlanta for 186 yards on the ground. “We basically drew a line in the sand a few weeks ago and said we're going to run the football and we're going to run it well.''
Just minutes after the Bucs edged the Dolphins on Nov. 11 for their first win of the season, left tackle Donald Penn began talking about a revenge-tinged encounter against Atlanta. The Falcons entered Sunday's game with eight victories in their past 10 matchups against Tampa Bay, including a 31-23 triumph at the Georgia Dome four weeks ago.
“We wanted this one bad, and it showed,'' Bucs linebacker Lavonte David said. “They kind of put a mauling on us up there and we had to get them back in our house. Today's game showed what we're capable of. Now, we have to build on it for the rest of this year and roll it into next year.''