After seeing their three-game winning streak snapped emphatically at Carolina, the Buccaneers return home Sunday to face the struggling Buffalo Bills, who are 1-4 on the road.
RECORDS: Bucs 3-9, Bills 4-8.
REGULAR-SEASON SERIES: Bucs lead, 6-3.
BUCS’ RECORD vs. BILLS AT HOME: 6-2.
LAST MEETING: In Tampa Bay’s only trip to Buffalo, the Bills emerged with a 33-20 triumph in Week 2 of the 2009 season. Trent Edwards completed 21 of 31 pass attempts for 230 yards, including long touchdown throws to Lee Evans and Terrell Owens. Donte Whitner returned a Byron Leftwich interception 76 yards for another score and Buffalo rolled up 438 yards as Tampa Bay rookie coach Raheem Morris fell to 0-2. Leftwich hit on 26 of 49 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns. Sabby Piscitelli’s 72-yard fumble return set up Leftwich’s scoring flip to Cadillac Williams. Kellen Winslow and Jerramy Stevens also caught touchdown passes at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
NEED TO KNOW: The Bills sport an effective two-headed rushing attack with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, who each played well in last week’s 34-31 OT loss against Atlanta in Toronto. Spiller boasts the speed and agility to break off a long run at any time, and rookie QB EJ Manuel has been careful with the ball. Led by DE Mario Williams and LB Jerry Hughes, Buffalo leads the NFL with 43 sacks and the Bills got to Matt Ryan six times. With 125 tackles and four interceptions, LB Kiko Alonso is a strong candidate for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
The Bucs took a step back at Bank of America Stadium, where the offense registered only 10 first downs and Tampa Bay’s defense missed too many tackles vs. Carolina. Tampa Bay is a slight favorite Sunday, and rookie QB Mike Glennon should have some success downfield — but only if his offensive line keeps the pocket clean. A ground game that has been stifled the past two weeks faces a more forgiving run defense, and coach Greg Schiano needs additional wins to bolster his case to return in 2014.