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Sunday, September 11, 2011
Wrap-up: Lions 27, Buccaneers 20

By Pat Yasinskas

Thoughts on the Buccaneers' loss to the Detroit Lions at Raymond James Stadium:

What it means: It might be only one game, but this was not a good start for the Bucs in any way. Losing to Detroit played a big role in keeping them out of the playoffs last year and this game could come back to haunt this team. The fact Atlanta and New Orleans lost their openers means the Bucs aren’t necessarily in trouble in the NFC South. But it sure looks like they could get their if some things don’t change quickly.

What I liked: Quarterback Josh Freeman got knocked out of the game on a third-quarter sack, but came back to throw a late touchdown to Mike Williams to make the game close. I’ve come to expect that from Freeman, who carried this team to 10 wins last season.

What I didn’t like: The offensive game plan. I came into the season expecting Tampa Bay’s defense to struggle because it’s so young in the front seven. That came true as Matthew Stafford threw for 305 yards and five touchdowns. But I thought the offense was good enough to overcome potential defensive problems. That part turned out to be totally wrong. The Bucs are set up so that they should have good balance on offense. But they didn’t show that against a Detroit defense that’s good, but not great. The Bucs ran just 16 times for 56 yards. LeGarrette Blount, who is a tough physical runner, got just five carries for 15 yards. If you don’t use Blount, you’re going to end up with your defense on the field for far too long and that’s exactly what happened.

Play of the day: Cornerback Aqib Talib, who had some offseason legal troubles, gave Tampa Bay one of its few bright spots. He picked off a Stafford pass in the first half and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown. But Talib also got beat by Calvin Johnson on a 36-yard touchdown pass later.

What’s next: The Bucs travel to Minnesota to play the Vikings next Sunday.