|Doug Martin's 251-yard, four-TD performance at Oakland was one of the highlights of the Bucs' season. (US Presswire)|
With both a four-game winning streak and a five-game losing streak, the Buccaneers had their share of ups and downs in 2012. Here are Rapid Reports picks' for the top highlights and lowlights from the Bucs' first year under coach Greg Schiano.
- Coming back at Carolina in Week 11: Just when the Bucs had started to look like legitimate playoff contenders, winning three games in a row, they found themselves on the ropes against the Panthers, down 21-10 with six minutes remaining. But QB Josh Freeman led two scoring drives in the waning minutes, capping the last off with a 24-yard TD pass to Vincent Jackson with 12 seconds left. Freeman and Jackson connected again for a two-point conversion to send the game to OT. Tampa Bay got the ball first and kept the momentum going, as Freeman hit Dallas Clark for a game-winning 15-yard touchdown on the first drive.
- Doug Martin's performance at Oakland in Week 9: Overshadowed by several other star rookies around the NFL early in the season, Bucs RB Doug Martin made sure everyone in the league knew who he was after a breakout showing against the Raiders. Martin rushed for a franchise record 251 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-32 win -- and did so in a homecoming effort; he was born in Oakland. Martin was only 45 yards shy of Adrian Peterson's single-game record.
- Ending the season on a strong note: After losing five in a row to fall out of playoff contention and taking a 41-0 loss at New Orleans, the Bucs had nothing to play for but pride in Week 17 at Atlanta. Neither did the Falcons, but the NFC's No. 1 seed played its starters anyway. Tampa Bay's defense showed impressive grit in holding Atlanta's high-flying passing game to only 213 yards, and the Bucs held on for a 22-17 win to enter the offseason feeling good about the future.
- Letting one slip away in Week 14 vs. the Eagles: At 6-6 entering a home game against the hapless Eagles, Tampa Bay still felt like it was in playoff contention. Those chances all but ended with a difficult-to-handle 23-21 loss to Philadelphia at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs made rookie QB Nick Foles look like a Pro Bowler. He threw for 381 yards and led a comeback from an 11-point deficit in the final seven minutes, capping it off with a game-winning 1-yard TD pass to Jeremy Maclin as time expired.
- Losing Adrian Clayborn for the season due to injury: Tampa Bay's defense struggled against the pass all season long, but the secondary wasn't solely to blame. The Bucs never had a consistent pass rush, which is a problem a healthy DE Adrian Clayborn could have helped address. But Clayborn, who led the Bucs in sacks in 2011 with 7.5, went down with a season-ending injury to his right knee in Week 3 at Dallas. Ultimately, Tampa Bay finished as the NFL's worst pass defense (297.4 yards per game allowed) and was tied for 29th in sacks (27).
- Taking a beating at New Orleans in Week 15: If the aforementioned loss to the Eagles was the injury, what happened a week later against the Saints was the insult. Tampa Bay showed no fight whatsoever in taking a 41-0 loss to a New Orleans team that ultimately finished with the same 7-9 record as the Bucs. Freeman threw four interceptions, and that made fans begin to openly wonder if he is the long-term solution at this position for Tampa.
For more from Tampa Bay Bucs blogger Patrick Southern, follow @CBSBucs on Twitter.