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5 Takeaways from Buccaneers at Cardinals

Posted Oct 16, 2017

A few notes from the Buccaneers' loss to the Cardinals.

1. Bucs defense creating chances
The Buccaneers won the turnover battle for the third straight week in Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals. Despite giving up 24 points in the first half, the defense managed a few key takeaways to spark the Bucs offense into a comeback. Cornerback Brent Grimes recorded his first interception of the season, picking off Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer in the 3rd quarter following Tampa Bay’s first score of the game. Grimes led the team in tackles with nine and currently has the second-most interceptions in the league since 2013 with 18.

2. Lavonte David returns with a bang
Linebacker Lavonte David notched three tackles of his own and not one but two forced fumbles in his return to action. One of those forced fumbles was a ‘strip-six’ where David would pry the ball out from Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald’s hands to find the end zone for a defensive touchdown in the fourth quarter. The score seemed to ignite the entire team as the Bucs would pull within five after being down 31-0 in the third quarter, before ultimately running out of game clock. The defensive score was David’s first career fumble recovery returned for a touchdown as he picked up right where he left off in his return from injury.

3. Bucs offense kept pace
The Buccaneers offense had over 400 yards for the third consecutive game, scoring 33 points in the second half, with 27 of those 33 coming in the fourth quarter alone. It was the most points Tampa Bay has ever scored in a single quarter. While starting quarterback Jameis Winston would leave the game in the second quarter, reserve quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped in, completing 22 of 32 passing attempts for 290 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. If the offense can tally another 400+ yard game in Week Seven, it will tie the franchise record for most consecutive games with at least 400 yards of total offense (last accomplished in 2012).

4. Multiple receivers in play; tight ends come up clutch
All those yards are the product of a multitude of receivers as the Bucs offense continues to spread the ball around. Wide receiver Mike Evans was efficient in Sunday’s game, recording 95 yards and a touchdown on just three receptions. Tight end Cameron Brate caught a touchdown pass for the fourth consecutive game, marking the longest streak by a tight end in franchise history and tied for the longest of any such streak in team history as well. Brate also has the most touchdowns of any tight end in the NFL this season with a whopping 12 through five games. Fun little fact: the pass he caught in the end zone from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick at the start of the fourth quarter was the first touchdown between two Harvard alumni in NFL history.

5. Cardinals’ run game takes Bucs by surprise
Prior to the arrival of running back Adrian Peterson this week, the Arizona Cardinals had the league’s worst rushing offense. The Buccaneers focus was undoubtedly on the league’s second-best passing attack as quarterback Carson Palmer had been slinging the ball all season to the likes of veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald and wide receiver John Brown. Newly acquired Adrian Peterson made sure to balance the Cardinals’ offense from the start, scoring his first touchdown in the desert on a 27-yard run just three minutes into the game. The Bucs would go on to allow Peterson a total of 134 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns on the day. Cardinals’ Fitzgerald made sure to capitalize, notching 138 yards on 10 receptions and a touchdown of his own. The Bucs defensive front will look to improve against the run going forward and looking ahead to Buffalo.