Buccaneer aberrations
Some of the message boards around the Buccaneer community have been professing doom and gloom this week since the Monday Night loss in Carolina. And if you think it was bad watching it on Monday night, it finished here in the UK at 5am so moving the game time of the San Diego game was particularly well received on this side of the Atlantic.

Yes the Bucs gave up 300 yards on the ground and got run all over by the two Panther backs. But does this mean that the Bucs are a bad team and the 9-3 record going into the game was a total mistake?

Of course not. One game does not a season make. Otherwise the Panthers would have been eliminated on the back of the 27-3 hammering we gave them at Raymond James Stadium earlier in the season. You could also write off the top two teams in the NFL with the Giants getting humiliated by the Browns on Monday Night football, and the Titans losing at home in convincing style to the Jets.

And there are enough example in recent Buccaneer history of similar one game aberrations that did not go on to affect the play-off bound Bucs the following week.

1997 - Week 15 - Jets 0-31
Two interceptions for touchdowns by Otis Smith and a kick return score to open second half by Leon Johnson sees Tony Dungy's team shutout in the Big Apple. A week later, the Bucs defeat Chicago the following week to clinch a home playoff game and close out the Old Sombrero a week later witha 20-10 win over Detroit.

1999 - Week 14 - Raiders 0-45
Still the biggest defeat in franchise history, even more than the 1976 Bucs ever achieved. Dungy pulled his starters in the second half and allowed some guy called Gruden to run up the score. A week later, the Bucs beat Green Bay 29-10 the following weekend and then win in Chicago to clinch a division title before going to lose to the Rams in the NFC Championship game.

2002 - Week 12 - Saints 20-23
The 9-2 Bucs come back to earth as New Orleans completes a series sweep. Was it all over for Jon in his first season in Tampa Bay? A week later, The Bucs beat the Falcons and then the Lions behind Brad Johnson and wind up the regular season at 12-4.

2005 - Week 14 - Patriots 0-28
What is it with road shutout losses in Buc history? This one was a mauling in New England that we had live on British television. A week later, the Bucs beat the Falcons in overtime and then the Saints at home to win the NFC South Division title.

You could even go back to 1979 when John McKay's team lost three straight when they only needed one win to clinch their first-ever playoff berth before winning in a rainstorm against the Chiefs. Or 1981 when San Diego won a narrow game in Tampa leaving the Bucs to travel to Detroit (7-0 at home on the season) for a winner-takes-all showdown. The Bucs won that one too.

So stop crying into your breakfast bowl Buc fans - the game in Carolina is over and in the books. Time to move on and it starts Sunday in Atlanta. Do you really think the defense will allow 300 yards on the ground again?

Paul Stewart, December 2008