Sunday, September 11, 2011
Halftime: Lions 20, Bucs 13
By Kevin Seifert
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.