By Dory LeBlanc
The biggest key for the Bucs to walk away with a win Sunday was to exploit the Bills' porous run defense, while keeping Mike Glennon protected from Buffalo's vaunted pash rush, which leads the league in sacks. The Bucs were able to do one of the two effectively en route to a 27-6 victory at Raymond James Stadium.
The Bucs got a nice head start in the run-game as Bobby Rainey set a franchise record for longest run in team history after rushing for 80 yards and a score on the second play of the game. The Bucs defense took over and forced Buffalo to punt, but Dekoda Watson, a usually outstanding special teams player, ran into punter Brian Moorman, drawing the roughing-the-kicker penalty and handing the Bills a first down. The Bucs defensive unit held E.J. Manuel & Co. once again, forcing the visitors to punt.
Aided by a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the Bucs, the Bills were able to cap off a 36-yard drive with a 40-yard field goal to keep the game within reach, but the Buccaneers had other plans.
The Tampa Bay defense refused to give Manuel and the Buffalo offense much breathing room throughout the first half, and when they did, they shut the Bills down when it counted.
After the first 30 minutes, the Bucs had sacked Manuel four times, intercepted him twice, and recovered a special teams fumble, while the Bucs offense scored 24 points - giving Tampa Bay a 21-point lead, their largest hafltime lead since 2007, when they led the Falcons 27-3.
Bucs kicker Rian Lindell, who made only 75-percent of his field goal attempts this season entering the contest, was also on-point Sunday afternoon, making a 53-yard attempt in the second quarter and a 32-yarder in the third.
Buffalo ate almost five minutes off the clock to start the second half, but only picked up three points to show for their efforts as Dan Carpenter kicked his second field goal for at least 40 yards Sunday (46 yards, officially) to make the score 24-6 with 10:19 to play in the third quarter.
The Bucs, who went scoreless in the third quarter in 9-of-12 games this season, had difficulty keeping the pocket completely clean for Glennon, who was under siege most of the afternoon. Although only sacked one time, he was continuously left in a position where he needed to rush the ball out of his hands, ending the day 9-for-25 for 80 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
The turnover-forcing-machine, otherwise known as the Bucs' D, didn't just perform at a high level in the first half, they continued to force the Bills into making mistakes in the second half of the game as well, continually giving the offense decent field position to have the ability to .
Lavonte David led all defenders in production with eight tackles, one sack, one tackle-for-loss, two passes defensed, two QB hits, and two interceptions, while Mason Foster made up for an early personal foul (illegal hit on a defenseless receiver) with a stellar outing as well, recording nine tackles, one pass defensed, two QB hits, and a pick.
In addition to the 80-yard touchdown run in the beginning of the game, Rainey ran for an additional 47 yards, for a total of 127 yards on the ground, while Vincent Jackson led all receivers with 70 yards and a TD on three catches.
With the game securely in hand, the Buccaneers attempted to run the clock out, but couldn't pick up the first down and were forced to punt. Buffalo, however, was left with no time left to get down the field, let alone to mount a comeback, and fell to the Bucs 27-6.
Next up: The Buccaneers will host the San Francisco 49-ers in the final home game of the season next Sunday (December 15th) at 1pm. Coverage begins at 9am with the Floor and Decor Countdown to Kickoff, hosted by Tom Krasniqi on 620am/95.3fm WDAE.