Motivated Winslow delivers
Ira Kaufman, The Tampa Tribune, published 27 December 2010|
Kellen Winslow said he believes he proved in Sunday's 38-15 victory against Seattle why the organization traded for him before the 2009 season. Winslow was Tampa Bay's most consistent pass catcher last year, but his stats did not help the Bucs finish better than 3-13. Tampa Bay put more talent around Winslow this season, but he still can carry the load.
Winslow led Tampa Bay with seven receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns against the Seahawks. It was the most receiving yards Winslow has registered since totaling 102 yards against Miami last November. "We needed this game," Winslow said. "It's been there. We just haven't had the type of connection that I'm used to, we're used to. You just keep grinding, keep practicing and it will come."
Winslow said he was not only motivated by his team's playoff chase, but also a botched call by an NFL official in last week's loss to Detroit.
A week ago, Winslow was called for interference on a fourth-quarter play in which he jostled with Lions S C.C. Brown in the end zone before reaching up and grabbing what appeared to be a touchdown pass from Josh Freeman.
The team received an apology from the NFL last week, and Coach Raheem Morris had nothing but praise for Winslow after Sunday's win.
"Kellen is phenomenal," Morris said. "I love coaching Kellen. He's one of those guys who goes out every week and gives you everything he's got. When he's complaining, he's only complaining to be better because he wants the team to be better and wants to be better for himself.
"He wants to be better for everybody around him, he wants to be better for ownership, and he wants to be better for his organization, his family. He's got a lot on his mind. He has a lot of pressure that he puts on himself, so to see him come out and see what he was able to do today doesn't shock me one bit."
Bucs rookie WR Arrelious Benn was carted off the field early in the second quarter with an injury to his left knee after making a 16-yard reception along the right sideline. Benn eventually returned to watch from the sideline, aided by crutches, and his first pro season appears to be over.
On Tampa Bay's next possession, RB Earnest Graham remained on the ground for several minutes following a 4-yard reception. Graham was hit awkwardly, and the Bucs announced Graham suffered a neck injury. Graham walked off the field without help, went directly to the locker room and never returned.
DE Stylez G. White might have seen his last day as a Bucs starter. Michael Bennett started at right end and White, coming off the bench, did not have any tackles or sacks.
As a starter, White had 4.5 sacks this season and struggled to establish a consistent pass rush. White, 31, will be an unrestricted free agent next season and Sunday's switch gave Tampa Bay coaches a chance to see Bennett in a starting role. "I felt pretty good," Bennett said. "I felt real comfortable out there. I am willing to do whatever (Morris) asks me to do."
We're over it
The Bucs acknowledged that it took awhile to get over last week's overtime loss to the Lions, who had dropped 26 consecutive games on the road. "I'm very proud of our effort today, especially coming off the Detroit game,'' TE John Gilmore said. "That hangover lasted a few days.''
Tampa Bay had lost three of its previous four games before rolling up 439 yards against the Seahawks, who have lost seven of their past nine.
"It was really tough to come into work Monday and watch the tape of that Detroit game,'' LB Geno Hayes said. "We took to the field with a playoff mind-set today and we stayed in our gaps. When guys do their jobs, this scheme works.''
After former Plant High standout Mike Williams caught two passes for 15 yards, Seattle's fourth-year receiver was asked about his team's chances of winning an NFC West title with a 7-9 record.
"People want to talk and say this and that, but rules are rules,'' Williams said. "You don't just change the rules all of a sudden because the situation is not what you expect.''
If the Seahawks win at home against St. Louis next week, they would become the first team with a losing record to qualify for the NFL playoffs.
Tampa Bay was the only NFL team this season to have all of its home games blacked out in its local television market. Sunday announced attendance was 46,576, though actual attendance was 40,360 according to the Tampa Sports Authority.
Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck left the game with a hip injury after opening the scoring on a 1-yard run late in the first quarter.
The Bucs have utilized 43 starters this season, using eight offensive-line combinations.
Freeman completed his final 13 attempts, finishing with a career-high passer rating of 144.2.