If there is glory, the Bucs earned plenty against Atlanta
Few National Football League franchises have a cemetery of such reverence as do the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who symbolically bury the revered remains of significant, memorable defeats. Add now the 27-21 loss to the Falcons in Atlanta Sunday to a grave that must be created and declared hallowed for all who care, a marker in memory of that loss that crippled the Bucs’ effort to take the NFC South lead.
The goal-line stand by Atlanta against quarterback Josh Freeman efforts at a last-second comeback fell short when new Bucs bullish running back LeGarrette Blount was stopped short of a first down in a furious Buc effort to win this game. A score by Blount would have assured the Buccaneers of the lead for the NFC South championship. That lead now goes to Atlanta over Tampa Bay. It is not over, but this was a terrific blow to the Bucs and to all of Bucdom.
Today’s Monday morning quarterbacks have great fodder in questioning the call of Coach Raheem Morris to his 6-foot-6 quarterback Josh Freeman to hand the ball off to Blount for the last attempt near the 2-yard line for a yard gain rather than trying to run it in himself. They have good reason, although Blount had demonstrated success in carrying the ball on previous plays.
It was a sad, sad, shortcoming of the Bucs that they were unable, by whatever means, to make the first down and advance to the division lead. They are not out of it, but they would have had it almost for certain had they had gotten that score and extra point, thus winning the game 28-27 instead of this landmark error in losing the game 27-21.
Thus, this error, this failure, now must be placed in the Buc cemetery of revered losses. Too bad; other than the defeat, it was a stupendous game and surely had it been played at Raymond James Stadium, most surely believe the Bucs would have won. In some consolation, they have yet another chance when Atlanta visits on December 5.
Additional solace can be taken in the fact that this Buccaneer team is better than it was when the season began. Quarterback Freeman is only 22 and surely fast-developing. He can be a superstar.
And the team around him is maturing fast, while some of the new comers are quickly developing, such as Blount, rookie WR Mike Williams, who had four catches for 89 yards and a score. There’s also Micheal Spurlock, whose kick-off returns were spectacular, 89 yards for a touchdown as well as a 66-yard return in the first half to set up another score. Spurlock also caught a 49-yard pass from Freeman, thrown out of his own end zone on a third-and-13 play that gave the Bucs a key first down.
Freeman and his young teammates are taking this loss far more philosophically than their fans so disappointed with the loss. Freeman quickly said after the game that they played as well as they could, made some mistakes, but they will move along. He and this team are easy to support, even more than they were before this loss.
The Buccaneers have a respected list of losses in their cemetery of defeat. This loss to Atlanta must be buried there with all the honors due.