Sometimes in victories and losses, special teams get overlooked. Against the Carolina Panthers, in a must-win game, they left some memorable plays for us to ponder. Here’s how I graded the Buccaneers’ special teams Sunday against Carolina.
Simply put the return game was nonexistent. This is not an exaggeration. On five punts and five kickoffs, the Buccaneers were unable to gain any yardage to make the stat sheet. For kickoffs, each was a touchback. On the other hand, the Buccaneers failed to contain any gunner on a punt. This resulted in each occasion a defender within five yards of the returner. Ultimately leaving no chance to return and improve field position.
In a game of inches the special teams has to do better at locking up defenders to provide for a chance at a return. At least there was not a fumbled catch on these plays. One has to wonder though could Jaelon Darden, now with the Browns, have made something happen. Afterall he’s top five in yards per punt return on the season.
Return Game: C+
First, on kickoffs the Buccaneers’ special teams did well. Mostly due to Jake Camarda’s touchbacks, but there was one kick in particular where lane disciple broke down and Raheem Blackshear had a 36 yard return. Luckily the defense came up big with a turn over on downs in the resulting drive right before half.
Kick Off Grade: B
Field Goals/Extra Points
As for field goals, Ryan Succop went one for three on field goals and one for two on extra points. Not a good game for him. Now the results don’t entirely rest on his shoulders. The Panthers did a great job penetrating the line to get their block. But more frustrating, given he has only made two of six from beyond 50 yards, is Todd Bowles call to go for it from 53 yards out. They should have punted. The ensuing drive resulted in a touchdown and gave the Panthers a 14-0 lead.
Field Goals/Extra Points Grade: D-
Wow…just wow. Jake Camarda impressively punted five times with an average punt of 45.4 yards with two landing in the panthers red zone to have them start deep in their own territory. The first set up a strip sack by Anthony Nelson. The result was a touchdown.
The second was WILD and required two attempts. On the first attempt everything went wrong and Camarda managed to save the day in miraculous fashion. The snap came out with some zip and the ball was immediately fumbled. Snatched up by Camarda he scrambled to his left. Showing off his 4.5 40 yard dash speed he gets within a foot or so of the side line with a defender right on top of him. Some how he manages to drop kick the ball of his non kicking foot for a punt that lands 5 yards within the Panthers goal line. Complete insanity!
Unfortunately Ko Kieft, who was ineligible, was to far down the field. Negating the crazy play. Luckily Camarda repeated the punt and pinned the Panthers on their own eight yard line. The distance to go would prove to be too much for the Panthers and the Buccaneers walked away from the win.
Punting Grade: A+
Succop needs to improve and Bowles needs to understand his players abilities. Blocked and missed field goals lose games in the playoffs. As for Camarda, he’s playing great football. Execution grade is going to have to be a C given the points left on the board and game plans and decisions also gets a C.
Camarda saves the team, win, and grade to make it a B
The Bucs Report/ Sports Talk Florida Postgame Show!
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