By Dory LeBlanc
The Bucs were looking to make it five straight wins at home, but the defending NFC Champions extended their win streak to four games with a 33-14 victory over Tampa Bay Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium.
After going three-and-out on their opening drive, the Bucs allowed the 49ers to sustain a nearly seven minute drive that was capped off by a four-yard TD to Michael Crabtree, who tore his achilles tendon in the offseason and kept him out of action until Week 14 before suffering an ankle injury last week against the Seahawks. The touchdown was the fifth-year receiver out of Texas Tech's first of the 2013 campaign.
The offensive woes continue for the Buccaneers, who were forced to punt the ball on all three first quarter possessions and registered only one first down in the first 15 minutes which was the result of an encroachment call on LB Ahmad Brooks. The Bucs
Colin Kaepernick and the Niners, on the other hand, were in the driver's seat offensuvely all afternoon, extending their lead to 10 points when Phil Dawson made a 47-yards field goal, his 21st consecutive converted attempt good for a San Francisco franchise record and then made it 17-0 when Kaepernick connected with Vernon Davis on a 52-yard bomb on the play following the two minute warning,
With 1:18 until the half, the Bucs took the field and eventually narrowed the gap back to a ten-point 49ers lead when Mike Glennon hit Vincent Jackson with an 11-yard toss to put Tampa Bay on the board. On the 80-yard scoring drive, San Francisco safety Donte Whitner was called for unnecessary roughness, giving the Bucs a first down at the 49er 12.
Through 30 minutes, the league leader in penalties Tampa Bay were not flagged for any infractions, while San Francsisco committed six penalties for 42 yards, However, when the second half began, Gerald McCoy's offsides call negated a pick-six by Lavonte David. On the return, David was shaken up with an ankle injury that kept one of the NFL's best defensive players off the field for the next two series.
The Niners took a 20-7 lead with 7:51 to go in the third quarter on Dawson's 22nd straight field goal, this one, a 43-yard attempt.
Tampa Bay has struggled offensively in the second half this season, but got within six points of San Francisco on a 10-play, 92-yard drive that began in the closing minutes of the third quarter and ended with a 24-yard TD pass from Glennon to fellow rookie Tim Wright on the first snap of the fourth.
On San Francisco's following drive, Kaepernick transformed into Houdini, eluding sacks and getting out from pressure, while making clutch throws to convert two-out-of-three third downs, but the Bucs defense stopped the Niners' from getting into the end zone, limiting the damage on the 17-play, 77-yard drive which took 10:27 off the clock to a Dawson 21-yarder to make it a two-possession game with four-and-a-half minutes to go.
On the ensuing kickoff, Eric Page misfielded the ball, which Kendall Hunter picked up at the two-yard line and dove into the end zone to put San Francisco up 30-14.
The Bucs offense continued to sputter on the next drive, turning the ball over on downs after a failed fourth-down conversion attempt.
The 49ers' Mr. Automatic, Phil Dawson, kicked his fourth FG of the contest, extending his consecutive FGM streak to 24 while broadening San Francisco's lead to 33-14, the eventual score, as time was winding down off the clock.
In a desperation attempt, Glennon threw the ball downfield to nothing but white jerseys and one of them, Eric Reid, came up with the interception - giving Kaepernick the opportunity to take a knee as the clock expired.
Glennon completed 18-of-34 passes for 179 yards, two touchdowns and the late pick, while Tim Wright led all Tampa Bay receivers with 82 yards on seven receptions and a score. The Bucs ground game was essentially non-existent as Bobby Rainey and Brian Leonard combined for 39 total rushing yards.
Next up: The Buccaneers head to St. Louis to take on the Rams next Sunday at 1:00. Coverage begins on 620 am/95.3 fm WDAE at 9am with the Floor and Decor Countdown to Kickoff hosted by Tom Krasniqi.