The Tampa Bay Buccaneers returned home on Sunday but didn't bring with them any of the promising play that led to a win in Pittsburgh and an overtime shootout loss in New Orleans. Instead, they were overwhelmed early by the visiting Baltimore Ravens, eventually absorbing a 48-17 defeat at Raymond James Stadium.
The loss dropped the Buccaneers to 1-5 in 2014 and kept them from carrying any of the momentum they had gained on the road into their bye week.
Joe Flacco threw five touchdown passes in the first 17 minutes of game action, allowing the Ravens to take a 38-0 lead into halftime. Tampa Bay's defense surrendered 475 yards, did not collect a sack or a quarterback hit and recorded its only takeaway with less than two minutes left in the game. LB Lavonte David, who led the team with his second straight 14-tackle effort, said the Ravens were simply sharper than the Buccaneers.
"They executed," said David. "It wasn't any tricky stuff, they were just better than us today. Their offense played better than our defense played. It's all about pride – act like you want to be out there. It's game day. You've got to have a certain pride to you and today we didn't have that pride. From the jump, we started out defensively, gave up big plays."
The absence of Johnthan Banks
and Dashon Goldson (and, in a longer-term sense, Mike Jenkins) appeared to leave Tampa Bay's secondary vulnerable anywhere Alterraun Verner wasn't patrolling the field. Verner spent much of the day shadowing the dangerous Steve Smith, but Ravens QB Joe Flacco simply looked elsewhere in the early going, most notably completing a string of quick slants to Torrey Smith to great effect. Two of those, in fact, accounted for the Ravens' first two touchdowns during a 28-point opening period. Flacco eventually looked Steve Smith's way on a broken play early in the second quarter, hitting him with a 56-yard bomb that extended the Ravens' lead to 35-0. Smith added to his totals in the second half and finished as the game's leading receiver with 110 yards on five grabs.
Flacco was nearly flawless, completing 21 of 29 passes for 306 yards and those five touchdowns, a new Ravens' single-game record. Despite playing behind a line that was missing its usual starters at left tackle and left guard, Flacco was neither pressured nor intercepted. Baltimore's only turnover was a botched snap late in the fourth quarter after Tyrod Taylor had taken over at quarterback. Flacco led the Ravens to a score on their first seven possessions, the last one a 46-yard field goal by Justin Tucker. Baltimore Head Coach John Harbaugh also allowed Tucker to try a 64-yard field goal at the end of the half but it was blocked by DE William Gholston.
Tampa Bay's offense didn't find a rhythm until the second half. The running game found little traction, which left second-year QB Mike Glennon throwing on a series of long third downs. The Ravens pressured him relentlessly, sacking him five times and hitting him on 15 of his 49 dropbacks. The results weren't pretty in the first half (87 net passing yards), though Glennon rebounded in the second half and finished up with 314 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on 24-of-44 passing.
The Bucs didn't get into scoring territory until late in the first half, after an impressive 33-yard catch by WR Vincent Jackson. Unfortunately, a holding penalty, a sack and a 45-yard
field goal try by Patrick Murray that deflected off the right upright kept Tampa Bay from capitalizing on the opportunity. The Ravens held a 347-101 total-yardage edge at the intermission.
Tampa Bay's offense did show some signs of life in the second half, scoring on each of its first three possessions. After a Patrick Murray 47-yard field goal, Glennon directed a sharp 92-yard drive that ended in WR Mike Evans' 17-yard touchdown catch in traffic. The fourth quarter began with a very quick six-yard drive in which started with four straight plays of 10 or more yards. Glennon finished the 76-yard march with a three-yard rollout strike to WR Louis Murphy. Sandwiched in between those two touchdowns, however, was the Ravens' sixth TD, this one a four-yard run by RB Bernard Pierce.
"In the first half, we didn't run the ball well, we didn't throw the ball well, nothing was going well," said Glennon. "In the second half we got some runs going, got our passing game going. We just executed our offense better. They played better than us in the first half, no doubt about it, and we couldn't do anything. In the second half, when the game was out of reach, we were able to do some things but it was just a bad game in all aspects. They just out-played us. They didn't do anything we didn't expect, they just flat-out out-played us."
The Bucs found themselves facing a double-digit deficit before the game was six minutes old. The Ravens drove 80 yards on the opening possession, much of it on Justin Forsett's 52-yard breakaway run, and scored on a quick 15-yard slant from Flacco to Torrey Smith. Glennon was intercepted on the Bucs' opening drive by CB Jimmy Smith, who returned it to the 22 to set up a second Flacco-Smith connection, this one for a nine-yard score.
It went from bad to worse when a Buccaneer three-and-out gave the ball back to the Ravens at midfield and they needed just seven plays to get it into the end zone. A 14-yard run by Forsett got the ball into the red zone and Flacco found WR Kamar Aiken on a third-and-eight throw down the seam for the 17-yard score.
The Ravens got the ball first and picked
Photos from the first half of Buccaneers vs. Ravens.
up a first down on a swing pass to FB Kyle Juszcyk. On the next play, Forsett broke through the line and into the clear and wasn't pushed out of bounds by S Major Wright until he hit the Bucs' 15. A quick slant to Torrey Smith two plays later put the Ravens in the end zone just 1:49 into the game.
An incompletion and a false start that erased a fine five-yard run by Martin put the Bucs into a quick third-and-10 on their opening possession. Glennon converted that one with a sharp 25-yard pass over the middle to Evans, but a hurried throw three plays later was easily intercepted by Smith and returned to the Bucs' 22.
Forsett's 14-yard run set up first-and-goal at the eight, and what appeared to be an instant replay of the first touchdown led to Torrey Smith's nine-yard scoring grab and a 14-0 Ravens lead with 9:22 still to play in the first quarter.
A three-and-out led to Michael Koenen's first punt of the game, and it was fair caught at the midfield stripe. Yet another slant from the right side for Torrey Smith accounted for 18 yards to the Bucs' 19. The Bucs forced a third-and-eight but a breakdown in coverage allowed WR Kamar Aiken to streak into the end zone untouched for a 17-yard score.
The Bucs' next drive lost nine yards before another punt, with Brandon Williams and Elvis Dumervil splitting a second-down sack. The Ravens started again at their own 43 and quickly got back into scoring territory with a 30-yard catch by Owen Daniels. On third-and-nine, Flacco lobbed a pass into the end zone where WR Michael Campanero made a leaping catch over Leonard Johnson for a 19-yard touchdown.
After three incompletions and a punt, Flacco threw his fifth TD pass on a 56-yard bomb to Steve Smith. Verner had Smith well-covered on his original route but Flacco drifted right to extend the play, saw Smith suddenly break upfield and threw a perfect bomb that the receiver caught as he crossed the goal line. Baltimore's defense forced another punt and took the ensuing possession 20 yards for a field goal, increasing the lead to 38-0 on Justin Tucker's 46-yard shot.
The Bucs did move the ball on their next possession, getting one first down on a penalty and another on an impressive 14-yard catch in traffic by TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The drive stalled near midfield, however. Tampa Bay's defense finally got a stop on the next possession and Sam Koch's first punt bounced into the end zone for a touchback.
Vincent Jackson's 18-yard catch two plays into the next drive picked up a first down, and on third-and-two from midfield, Jackson got past his man and made a juggling catch at the Ravens' 18. A holding call pushed the Bucs back 10 yards and a sack by Terrell Suggs made it second-and-30 back at the Baltimore 38. After a scrambling 11-yard pass to Evans, Glennon threw up a lob under pressure and the pass fell incomplete in the end zone. Rookie K Patrick Murray came on to try a 45-yard field goal but it caromed off the right upright.
The Ravens used enough short passes and timeouts to get in position to let Tucker try a 64-yard field goal in an attempt to tie the NFL record. However, DE William Gholston blocked it to end the half.
The Bucs got the ball to start the second half and, after a touchback, got moving with Glennon throws of 10 yard to Louis Murphy and 30 yards to Seferian-Jenkins. Another first down got the ball down to the 22 but a sack by LB Daryl Smith helped create a third-and-17 at the 29. Glennon threw one up in Jackson's direction and was rewarded when Jackson somehow caught the ball over a Ravens defender and got his foot down against the right pylon. However, as replay showed, that same foot also barely caught the sideline, rendering the pass incomplete. Murray came on to try a 47-yarder and banged it home for the Bucs' first points.
Tampa Bay's defense got the ball back
quickly but a 63-yard Sam Koch punt and a holding penalty pushed the Bucs all the way back to their eight. They got it back over midfield on just two plays, a 19-yard run by Martin and 26-yard catch by Brandon Myers. A taunting call on Jimmy Smith on the next play moved the ball all the way to the Ravens' 28, and Martin's draw-play run two snaps later earned a first down at the 18. Two plays later, Glennon threw a sharp seam pass to Evans, who caught the ball between two defenders and held on as he spun into the end zone.
The Ravens came back with a drive into Buccaneer territory, helped by an unnecessary roughness call on S Mark Barron. After Bernard Pierce converted a third-and-two inside the 10-yard line, he took it in on the next play from four yards out.
The Bucs' offense stayed in a groove, with a winding 10-yard run by Rainey and catches over the middle by Murphy for 24 yards and rookie WR Robert Herron for 16. From the 26, Rainey got free around the left end and dashed all the way down to the five. Two plays later, Glennon rolled to his right and found Murphy for a three-yard score.
A 58-yard return of the ensuing kickoff by Jacoby Jones got the Ravens right back to midfield, and Forsett converted a third-and-four with an 11-yard toss-sweep around the left end. The Bucs held there but Baltimore tacked on three more points on Tucker's 49-yard field goal.
Tampa Bay got two more possessions into Baltimore territory, including one after Baltimore's fumbled snap, but neither one ended in points.
- The Buccaneers declared the following seven players inactive prior to Sunday's game: QB Josh McCown, CB Johnthan Banks, S Dashon Goldson, LB Jonathan Casillas, DE Larry English, T Kevin Pamphile and G Kadeem Edwards. McCown, Banks, Goldson, Casillas and English were out due to injury.
- The Ravens deactivated the following seven players: WR Marlon Brown, LB Arthur Brown, T Eugene Monroe, G/T Kelechi Osemele, TE Ryan Taylor, DT Timmy Jernigan and DE Chris Canty. Monroe, Osemele, Jernigan and Canty were out due to injury.
- WR Mike Evans' 17-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter capped a 92-yard drive, the Buccaneers' longest scoring drive of the season.