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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' keys to victory against Minnesota

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Published:   |   Updated: March 20, 2013 at 11:02 PM

Stick to the game plan

Bucs coach Raheem Morris was admittedly a little quick to bag his offensive game plan last week. He needs to exercise more patience, especially if the result means benching RB LeGarrette Blount. One of the Bucs' most effective weapons, Blount can neutralize pass rushers, silence rival fans and wear down defenses. But he can't do any of that from the sideline, which is where he spent most of last week's loss to the Lions. The Bucs will turn to Blount early to move the chains and set up big plays in the passing game. Even if the payoff isn't immediate, the Bucs have ignore all temptation to bag that plan.

Do the tighten up

QB Donovan McNabb is still getting used to his new receivers and the Minnesota offense, so the Vikings will continue to lean on RB Adrian Peterson. As powerful as he is agile and fast, Peterson presents Tampa Bay's young defensive front-liners with quite a dilemma. He can break tackles, move the pile and break free for big gains, so the Bucs have to be disciplined and get a big game out of rookie MLB Mason Foster. By staying in their gaps, wrapping up on tackles and rallying to the ball, Tampa Bay can limit Peterson's effectiveness and render the Vikings offense one-dimensional.

Find the pressure point

The Bucs didn't record a sack or quarterback hit last week against Detroit's Matthew Stafford. The same cannot happen against the Vikings. McNabb may still be learning the Vikings offense but is no NFL novice. He's savvy enough to take advantage of any defense that doesn't force him to make decisions more quickly than he wants, so the Bucs have to make him uncomfortable. Whether it's unleashing more blitzes, adjusting more quickly to rival blocking schemes or simply playing harder, the Bucs have to figure out a way to get in McNabb's face and harass him into making throws he doesn't want to make.

Key Matchup

Bucs LT Donald Penn vs. Vikings RDE Jared Allen

Penn will take a big step in his quest to earn another Pro Bowl berth if he can shut down Allen. A perennial Pro Bowler, Allen is an edge rusher who wins battles with strength, skill and smarts. He's relentless in his pursuit of the quarterback and will use vertical and lateral quickness, as well as a variety of spins and hand moves to get into the backfield. Penn can match Allen's quickness off the ball, so the key is outsmarting Allen and staying one step ahead of him. If Penn can react quickly and adjust to Allen's counter moves, he should be able to keep him off of QB Josh Freeman and out of the Bucs backfield.

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