Bucs Fall to Cards, 13-10
Scott Smith, Buccaneers.com, published 30 September 2013

Despite a promising start that saw the Bucs jump out to a 10-0 lead, Tampa Bay failed to earn the win, falling to the Arizona Cardinals, 13-10, at Raymond James Stadium Sunday. The game started well for the Bucs’ defense, as a linebacker blitz on the first snap helped free McCoy for his second sack of the season and a loss of eight yards back to the Arizona 12. The Cardinals couldn’t recover and eventually punted from their own 19.

WR Eric Page initially muffed the punt but recovered on one hop and got it back to Tampa Bay’s 34. The Bucs quickly fell into a third-and-nine but Glennon had good protection on third down and was able to find WR Kevin Ogletree on a crossing route for a gain of 12. The drive stalled, however, when the Cardinals brought a big blitz on the next third down and S Yeremiah Bell got to Glennon for an 11-yard sack.

A rare short punt by Michael Koenen and two catches by TE Jim Dray got the Cardinals close to midfield but RB Rashard Mendenhall then lost the ball on two consecutive snaps. He was ruled down on the first one, but the second one was a fumble caused by CB Leonard Johnson that McCoy recovered at the Bucs’ 48 and returned to the Cardinals’ 41.

Glennon started the next drive with a laser down the middle of the field to Ogletree, but the receiver couldn’t hang on and the deflection was dangerously close to being intercepted. However, Martin found his way around left end on the next play and moved the chains with a 12-yard run. Glennon’s next throw was another dart, this one hauled by Williams for a gain of 14. Martin set up a second-and-two at the Cardinals’ seven-yard line with an eight-yard burst up the middle but he lost a yard on the next carry. On third down, Glennon got the first down and more, standing tall in the pocket and firing a quick eight-yard in to Williams for the game’s first score.

A fired-up Bucs’ defense forced another quick punt, thanks in large part to another furious third-down pass rush by McCoy that threw off Palmer’s aim on a downfield incompletion in the direction of WR Michael Floyd. Glennon and the Bucs’ offense got the ball back at their own 31. Two plays into that drive, a play-action handoff fooled much of the Arizona defense and Glennon rolled right to throw a 13-yard strike to Jackson. That’s as far as the possession got, though, and the Bucs punted away from midfield.

However, the defense got the ball right back and, despite a personal foul on the punt return that pushed the Bucs back to their 21, the drive pushed out towards midfield on a 12-yard catch and a five-yard run by Martin, plus an encroachment penalty. The drive died there but disaster was averted when LB Karlos Dansby couldn’t quite hold on to a leaping near-interception. The resulting punt bounded into the end zone for a touchback.

RB Andre Ellington broke off a 25-yard run two plays into the ensuing drive to get the ball into Buccaneer territory, but a timely pass break-up by LB Mason Foster on a third-and-four forced a punt that was fair-caught at the 14. Glennon took his first crack downfield to Jackson on the left sideline but it was well-defended and incomplete. However, the rookie passer converted a tough third-and-12 with a hard throw through traffic to TE Tim Wright that picked up 14 yards. The next long third down wasn’t nearly as successful, a dumpoff to Martin that gained nothing on third-and-15. Koenen’s punt went out of bounds at the Arizona 41.

This time it was S Dashon Goldson with a near interception and David with a blitz that just threw off a seam pass that led to an Arizona three-and-out, though the resulting punt went out of bounds at the Bucs’ seven. A sharp third-down pass to RB Brian Leonard moved the chains once and brought the clock down near the two-minute warning, and Glennon converted another third down just after the intermission. A personal foul drawn by Bell on a hit on Wright down the middle added 15 yards, and Glennon threw consecutive sharp passes to Williams and Wright for 13 and 15 yards to get the ball to the Arizona 29. The Bucs’ used their first timeout there with 1:06 left on the clock in the first half. The home team couldn’t get it any closer but still got three points out of Lindell’s 50-yard field goal.

The Bucs got the ball to start the second half, with Olympic speedster Jeff Demps taking a kickoff from eight yards deep and getting it out to the 21. On the first play of the drive, Glennon found FB Erik Lorig out in the right flat and Lorig turned it up for a gain of 20 to get the drive started out on the right foot. Two plays later, Glennon found Jackson over the middle for a gain of 14, but that was it for the drive and the Bucs punted from the Cardinals’ 43. Koenen’s punt bounced sideways and was downed at the eight.

Going to Larry Fitzgerald for the first time in the game, the Cards drove out of the shadow of their end zone, getting to midfield on a 21-yard Palmer-to-Fitzgerald hookup over the middle. Another Fitzgerald catch put the Cardinals into field goal range, but DT Gary Gibson set them back with an apparent sack that was instead a 10-yard penalty for intentional grounding. Unfortunately, Palmer struck right back with a hard throw down the right numbers to a wide-open Floyd for 27 yards to the Bucs’ 11.

Even that drive didn’t crack the scoreboard, however. On second down from the 14, Palmer tried to loft a corner-of-the-end-zone throw to Floyd but Banks made a dazzling, leaping interception, pulling the ball in with one hand and bringing it to his body as he fell to the turf.

The result was a touchback, but the Bucs’ offense couldn’t get moving, thanks in part to an intentional grounding call on Glennon. Tampa Bay had to punt, and a penalty on the coverage set Arizona up at their own 44, though a first-down false start backed it up five yards and an illegal formation call cost the Cards another five. That seemed good for the Bucs, until Palmer found Floyd open down the middle and got the ball to him for a 22-yard gain. However, three plays later Palmer tried to find Fitzgerald on the left sideline and Revis intercepted it at the Bucs’ 23.

A horse-collar penalty on Dockett extended the drive after an apparently failed third-down run by Martin, putting the ball across the Bucs’ 40 as the third quarter came to an end. A fabulous one-handed catch by Leonard on the next third down took it to midfield but a fumbled exchange between Glennon and Martin produced the Bucs’ first turnover, with LB Matt Shaughnessy recovering. Starting at their midfield stripe, the Cardinals got quickly into scoring range on a 23-yard catch by TE Rob Housler on the left sideline. The Bucs held there, however, and Arizona settled for a 42-yard Jay Feely field goal.

On the ensuing drive, the Buccaneers started at their own 16 and faced a fourth-and-inches at the 25 moments later. They kept the drive alive with a gutsy fake-punt call, snapping it directly to Goldson, who barreled up the middle to make sure he got the first down, then broke free for a total of 23 yards. The drive stalled just across midfield, though, and the Bucs had to punt again. It just leaked into the end zone for a touchback.