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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In crunch time, Fitzgerald bests Bucs' Revis

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Published:   |   Updated: September 30, 2013 at 06:39 AM

Did the Bucs make the right decision to bench Josh Freeman?

Yes - his play had deteriorated
36%
No - he's the best they have
9%
No - they should've benched Schiano
35%
Who cares? They're 0-4
20%

Total Votes: 1931

TAMPA — Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis looked at his matchup against Larry Fitzgerald as a heavyweight bout, admitting Arizona's Pro Bowl receiver landed a knockout punch.

Widely regarded as the best cover corner in the league, Revis shadowed Fitzgerald most of the day and quarterback Carson Palmer did not throw a single pass toward Fitzgerald in the opening half. But Fitzgerald was targeted nine times in the final two quarters, finishing with six catches for 68 yards.

And on Arizona's initial snap following a Patrick Peterson interception, Fitzgerald lined up wide left and beat Revis cleanly with a dazzling in-out-in fake for a 13-yard touchdown that forged a 10-10 tie with 3:06 remaining.

“It was a battle back and forth,'' said Revis, who posted six tackles and his first interception as a Buccaneer. “You throw a punch, he throws a punch back. It goes back and forth. I tip my hat to him. On that (touchdown) play, he did a great route in the red zone. ... It was a triple move. That was the game plan this week, to line up with Larry.''

Late in the third quarter, with the Bucs nursing a 10-0 advantage, Revis picked off a Palmer pass intended for Fitzgerald at the Tampa Bay 20.

“You're playing against one of the top corners in the business,'' Fitzgerald said. “He's going to win at times. I would love for him not to be able to do that, but there's a reason he gets paid $90 million to play cornerback in the NFL. He showed that he's as good as ever and it was great to go head-to-head with him.''

Peterson also picked off Mike Glennon's final pass, prompting Arizona coach Bruce Arians to say Sunday's game featured more than one premier cornerback.

“I think he (Peterson) is the best in the league,'' Arians said. “I'm sorry, some will argue that Darrelle is, but I don't even think it's close.''

Do your job

While Tampa Bay's defense has played well during an 0-4 getaway, the Bucs are averaging 11 points per game and the offense has been limited to four touchdowns.

“For whatever reason, we're not doing enough to help our defense out,'' right tackle Demar Dotson said after the Bucs averaged only 3.3 yards in their 76 snaps. “At the end of the day, we're a team, but we've got to put points on the board. I'll be the first to say it starts with our five guys up front.''

Tampa Bay's seven second-half possessions ended with four punts and three turnovers.

“We have to finish better,'' said left tackle Donald Penn, who was beaten by linebacker Dontay Moch for a third-down sack at the Tampa Bay 1-yard line that set up Arizona's short field on the go-ahead march. “We have to finish drives — it's been the same story for the whole season. Once we have them on their heels, we have to finish them.''

Bye-week blues

The Bucs head into their early bye week with 23 losses in their past 30 games — the worst mark in the NFC during that span.

“I don't know if the timing's good or not,'' guard Carl Nicks said. “It's one thing if you're getting blown out every week. Then you could try to rebuild. But when you lose every game that's close in the fourth quarter, that's a lot different.''

Bucs coach Greg Schiano dropped to 0-6 in games decided by three points or less, and Tampa Bay gave up a late lead in three of its four September setbacks.

“Getting away and being able to regroup should help,'' said second-year cornerback Leonard Johnson, who forced a first-quarter fumble. “We have to stick together as a team and find a way to turn this around. We've got the players and we've got the coaches to be a good team. It'll come.''

Extra points

Rian Lindell's 50-yard field goal late in the second quarter was his 20th career kick from 50 yards or more. ... Running back Jeff Demps made his Tampa Bay debut and gained 14 yards on his first NFL carry, adding an 8-yard reception. ... Arizona had dropped its previous nine road games. ... Schiano's father, Barry, who fell ill after last week's matchup and remained in New England for tests, attended Sunday's game.

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