TAMPA, Fla. -- A few thoughts after an eventful first half at Raymond James Stadium:
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers should feel fortunate to trail by seven points, and to be getting the ball to start the second half. The Detroit Lions have outgained them 324-108 and have 16 first downs to the Bucs' seven. The Bucs' only touchdown came off a pass tipped by Lions' tight end Will Heller and into the arms of cornerback Aqib Talib, and they needed a 78-yard kickoff return to put them in position for one of their field goals.
That said, the Lions have set themselves up for second-half success by possessing the ball for 21 minutes and 45 seconds. They've also run 41 plays to the Bucs' 23. On a hot and steamy day, that type of disparity cane make a difference late in the game.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has made a few mistakes, but overall you would have to call a 265-yard first half a success. The Lions had a delay of game under his watch, he dropped a shotgun snap to thwart one play and he overthrew receiver Calvin Johnson in the second quarter. Two other passes -- the interception to Talib and a near-interception on a pass to Jahvid Best -- put his receivers in tough spots. But his 37-yard touchdown pass to receiver Johnson on fourth down, which Talib appeared to tip but couldn't knock down, was a thing of beauty. He kept an 11-yard scoring pass to tight end Tony Scheffler appropriately low to prevent an interception, and he could have had a third touchdown pass had tight end Brandon Pettigrew not dropped an easy one in the first quarter.
The Lions' pass defense has been sharp. Quarterback Josh Freeman has managed only 98 yards through the air. Cornerback Chris Houston made a physical interception in the end zone to end one drive, and nickel back Aaron Berry broke up a potential touchdown pass late in the second quarter. Safety Louis Delmas, meanwhile, made a nice breakup of a third-down pass.
Who liked Scheffler's touchdown celebration? It appeared he was mimicking a swashbuckling pirate in the home of the Buccaneers. Not bad on the creativity scale.