BUCS : AFTER THE DUST SETTLES : SAN FRANCISCO
By Leo Haggerty

In the National Football League, or at any level of competitive football for that matter, you never discount a win.  With that said, it is still my job to critique the performance so here goes.

Let’s use as a barometer my GOAL LINE STAND column for the 49ers.  That way we can see where I was spot on or way off target.

The first goal was to get QB Jameis Winston going.  Put a big check mark in that box.

#3 was 9-of-11 in the initial 15 minutes with a TD pass to TE Cameron Brate.  Just as important was the fact that Winston had no interceptions in the first quarter.

The second goal was to get the fans involved and that gets  a check mark as well.  Not as big a positive as attaining the first goal but still a good thing to have accomplished.

The Pewter Pirates did some exciting things in all three phases of the game to keep the fans, albeit a dwindling amount, in full vocals.  Two touchdowns through the air and one on the ground plus no turnover on offense was a huge start.

Two interceptions and four sacks on defense kept the fans into the contest.  One of those quarterback captures was by DE Jason Pierre-Paul.  That gave #90 a season total of 10.5 sack. This was the first time a Buccaneer has recorded double-digit sacks in one year since DE Simeon Rice posted a 14-sack campaign in 2005.

No missed field goals or PATs made newly-signed K Cairo Santos the darling of the fans.  Honestly, with the well-documented kicking woes of the Bucs, the fans would have cheered for North Korean leader Kim Jomg-un if he would have kicked a touchdown.

The third goal was to defend the house and the Buccaneers did that with flying colors so check that box.  Tampa Bay never trailed and the Bucs defense held San Fran to 9 points.  Even better was the fact that the Pewter Pirates kept the 49ers off the scoreboard in the fourth period.

The final goal was to make splash plays.  I’m going to give myself a question mark, instead of a positive performance check, and here’s why.

Yes, the Buccaneers made some splash plays but left a few on the field especially in the passing game.  Winston still has difficulty connecting on the long pass specifically to WR Desean Jackson.

Now, understand this.  Any pass over 20 yards is difficult to complete in the NFL.  Why?  The guys on defense are getting paid huge amounts of money to make sure the opposition doesn’t complete the “home run” plays that deflates an entire team.

With all the contact that officials are allowing between receivers and defenders, the long pass has become increasing harder to complete.  Tampa Bay receivers need to make sure they allow as large a “window” as possible for a long completion.  Also, #3 needs to drop the pigskin into that window on a more consistent basis.

So, as you can see, I was pretty much right on the money with my four downs for success.  Let’s see if I can continue the hot streak, along with the Bucs, this week against Carolina.