Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key Takeaways from Lions vs. Buccaneers

Not every day you see a special teams play as the play of the game. 

View photos of the Buccaneers' preseason Week 3 game against the Detroit Lions.

-Well you knew the first takeaway had to be the play of the night/maybe the entire preseason: Adam Humphries' 109-yard kick six where he returned a failed 62-yard field goal attempt by the Lions for a touchdown. We've been singing Humphries' praises all preseason because he's so reliable. He's exactly where you need him to be when you need him to be there. He provides a great, albeit usually more conservative, option to whichever quarterback is under center and perhaps in trouble. But it takes a 109-yard special teams play for people to notice him. Humphries is sneakily fast and quick in his routes. He knows how to cut up a field (which is why he returns kicks as it is) and I'm so glad that people are finally talking about him.

-The Bucs' showed off their pass rush even with a somewhat unconventional defensive line rotation up front. It was Vinny Curry and Jason Pierre-Paul on the outside but Gerald McCoy and Will Gholston inside at tackle. Gholston has primarily been used at end in the past but the switch to tackle seemed to work for him – he sacked Lions' quarterback Matthew Stafford for a loss of nine yards in the second quarter. It was followed up on the next series by a Gerald McCoy sack that forced the Lions into a 62-yard field goal try… and we all know how that ended up. The line even got some help on pressure from the secondary, with rookie safety Jordan Whitehead coming down and getting to Stafford for the Bucs' first sack of the game on Detroit's first possession.

-Running back Peyton Barber has the starting position locked up and Tampa Bay's first series of the game was proof of that. The Bucs started with three straight runs by Barber, who got them two first downs and to midfield in the process. Tampa Bay spread the ball out to three different receivers on the following few plays but once inside the red zone it was back to Barber. He ended up taking it in to the end zone on a 14-yard touchdown run to give the Bucs an early 7-0 lead. He finished the night with 34 yards on just five carries, getting limited preseason work because his spot is secure.

-Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jameis Winston and Ryan Griffin all had a passer rating of over 100.0 last night. Fitzpatrick was pulled after the first quarter. He led a great touchdown drive to start the game by incorporating the run game and Peyton Barber but also hitting three different receivers to get the Bucs into the red zone. He and DeSean Jackson connected on a nine-yard before he hit tight end O.J. Howard for a 17-yard gain. Winston was again able to connect with wide receiver Chris Godwin who made an acrobatic catch in the corner of the end zone. Griffin again looked comfortable with his group and had the highest passer rating of the three: 130.9 with the reserves. He gave receiver Freddie Martino his first preseason touchdown with the Buccaneers and probably helped Martino's cause in the wideout race.

-What has been really encouraging this preseason has been the improvement in the Buccaneers' red zone defense. The Lions were three-for-five in the red zone, but consider that two of those scores were field goals. Not to mention the Lions were inside the 10-yard line on both and Tampa Bay's defense still held. Detroit quarterback Matt Stafford was not comfortable and was flushed out of the pocket on multiple occasions, forcing throws on the run. In fact, he completed just half of his passes on the night and only recorded 113 yards through the air. The Bucs were also much improved on third down defense, allowing the Lions to convert just six of 13 third-down attempts overall.

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