TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 11: Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scrambles during the season opener against the Detroit Lions at Raymond James Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Upon Further Review takes a look at the TV Broadcast one last time and gives you final thoughts on the Bucs-Lions Week 1 matchup
A new feature with SBNation Tampa Bay is Upon Further Review - where we go back and watch the TV Feed and try to glean a few more details you might have missed the first time through the game.
Let's face it - during the football game your eye is on the football, wondering what will happen next and who will make the big play. Once the game is over and you go back to review the game, you can actually analyze it with a much more critical eye and perhaps see things that in your emotion and excitement you might have missed the first time around.
The Bucs' QB Pressure was actually pretty good.
Adrian Clayborn, Brian Price and Gerald McCoy were consistently in the Lions backfield disrupting plays and putting pressure on Matthew Stafford. It had to be a frustrating day for the Buccaneer pass rushers as they seemed to constantly be one or two steps away from making a big sack.
There were also several big plays behind the line of scrimmage against the run.
Unfortunately, as the Stafford and his receivers made plays to extend drives, the effectiveness of the defensive line's penetration began to wilt in the Tampa September heat.
Still, actually seeing Buccaneer defensive linemen in the backfield putting heat on the quarterback was a welcome sight. If only the back seven would have played up to par.
Short yardage was a huge issue for the offense.
The Buccaneers had several opportunities on offense to extend drives facing third and one on several occasions throughout the ballgame. Each time, they ran Earnest Graham and each time they failed to secure the line to gain. Then, midway through the fourth quarter and trailing by two touchdowns and facing a 4th-and-one deep in Detroit territory, the Bucs' ran Graham again and he fumbled.
Tampa Bay really need to consider whether Graham still has the strength to be their short yardage guy. Perhaps its time to give LeGarrette Blount that opportunity once again.
Both Black and Sean Jones struggled in their assignments during the game, blowing many coverages that led to wide open receivers and easy throws for Lions' QB Matthew Stafford. In particular, the first touchdown for Calvin Johnson was a result of Jones not getting over in deep coverage quick enough.
Black got caught out of position several times, leaving the middle of the field wide open for tight ends and check down options.
The Bucs abandoned the Run Early
Even Coach Rah admitted as much but in the review of the game, it became quite obvious that the offensive coaching staff began to panic when Freeman and the offense struggled to stay on the field. The result was a quick switch to the two minute offense to "get Freeman going".
Look, we all know as Five goes, so go the Buccaneers - but Freeman needs the balance that LeGarrette Blount brings to the table. Without the threat of Blount, the defense can just do as the Lions did, play zone and a quarters, forcing Freeman to force a pass into coverage or check down.
The offensive line did a terrific job on Suh.
Ndamukong Suh has sent shivers down the spine of many an offensive lineman, but not the Buccaneers. Once again, Tampa Bay decided they were not going allow Suh to touch their quarterback, consistently double-teaming (and at times triple teaming) last year's NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Suh never got close to Freeman and the Bucs QB only really took hits when he held the ball too long allowing his "spy", LB Stephen Tulloch to deliver some hits.
The Bucs were in control until midway through the second quarter.
I know in the stands it felt like the Detroit Lions were an unstoppable machine in the first half but the truth is the Bucs were very much in control of the game until midway through the first half. Matthew Stafford had seen two drives stall and settle for field goals, one pick six and a few other passes that were nearly picked off.
Then, on 4th and 2 from the Tampa Bay 36, Stafford rainbowed a pass that skimmed off the finger tips of Aquib Talib, who should have had safety help over the top, and into the hands of Megatron, Calvin Johnson for a shocking touchdown.
That score was a stunning blow to the young Buccaneer defense, who would be scrambling to regain their composure. After two more scoring drives, Coach Rah got his defense settled down and the Lions did nothing the rest of the ballgame.
Unfortunately, by then the Lions had 27 points on the board and the Bucs were frantically trying to get back into the ballgame.
Luke Stocker Almost Changed the Football Game
It was oh so close for rookie tight end Luke Stocker. With a little over three minutes left in the ball game, Stocker found himself wide open in the center of a Lions' busted coverage. Freeman put a little air under the football but placed it right where only Stocker could get it but unfortunately, the ball slipped through the hands of the rookie.
Had Stocker hauled down the pass, the Bucs would have pulled within seven points with all three timeouts, the two minute warning, a swarming defense determined to get the football back and a tiring Lions defense hanging on for dear life.
Instead, it took the Bucs another five plays, the two minute warning and a timeout to get the ball into the endzone.
The Crazy Cal-Stanford Play at the end of the game Almost Worked!
For a very brief second, it looked like the Bucs were about to tie the game up on one of the most improbable plays in NFL history.
Had Graham caught the football cleanly, he had nothing but green grass and the entire Lion defense on the opposite side of the football field.
As we put the Lions game to bed once and for all - here's the take away. It's just the first game of the season. The 16 teams that win in Week One all believe they're headed for the Super Bowl. Those that lose feel the sky is falling. It's what happens when you have months and months of build up to one game.
Can the Buccaneers be better? Certainly - and they have to be if they want to compete in the NFC South. Still, take nothing away from the Lions, who won their last four games last season, won all their pre-season games and are starting 2011 1-0.
Detroit is indeed a team to watch and if the Bucs can get the ship righted, it could be a team the Bucs see again in the post-season.