Close but no cigar
The five-game winning streak on the road came to an end in Atlanta but wow did the Bucs push the best team in the NFC close (yep sorry Raheem, they can claim it now for fact). But what positives can the Bucs take from the game?
Firstly they didn't get blown out like the Pittsburgh and New Orleans' games. That has been the mantra of the haters recently, that the two losses were really bad ones against the only two good teams the Bucs have played. Anyone want to point out that the Browns were one of the teams the Bucs beat and they hammered New England yesterday?
This Georgia Dome battle reminded me of a boxing match where the favourite unloads what looks like a knockout punch. Except every time the contender gets back up and hits him right in the mouth in retaliation. These Bucs just do not know when they are beaten, when to lay down and die. They never stop trying.
And this has to be a reflection of the coaching staff. I have seen with my own eyes around One Buc Place how much the players respect and believe in Raheem Morris. Sure he took his lumps last year learning on the job and there are still kinks to be ironed out but now the NFL knows why he was so highly regarded in December 2008 and why the Glazers gave him the job a month later.
No second guessing
|Analysing the 4th down play at the goal-line|
|The Bucs are lined up in their heavy package with three tight ends and DT Roy Miller at full back in front of LeGarrette Blount|
|As the play unfolds you can see the gap in the 2 hole between C Jeremy Zuttah and RG Davin Joseph. A linebacker is ready to plug the gap but it would be a 1-on-1 play.|
But Blount bounces it outside and the play is stuffed. The call is a good one and the excecution is great on the line
One thing I really hate are Monday morning quarterbacks. The one who scream run after a pass play fails, or pass when the run up the middle is stuffed. Heck anyone can say what they should have done - that's the sort of banal opinion that you hear on the Apprentice each week.
So an onside kick doesn't work - does that make it a bad call? And as Raheem said in his press conference after the game, if he hadn't run Blount up the middle, everyone would have been screaming why you don't send your big back over from a foot on 4th and 1.
The play call was sound, the hole was there, Blount missed it. The play was 22 Blast and was designed to go over center and right guard. LeGarrette went outside and was stuffed. It happens. Deal with it. Just lay off Raheem and offensive co-ordinator Greg Olsen for the call. I didn't hear anyone complaining when they went long down the right sideline on 3rd and 13 from their own one-foot line.
The previous five-road game win streak began in Detroit in December 2002, continued in Champaign, Illinois against the Bears, the opening of the Eagles' new stadium in September 2003 and then further road wins in Atlanta and Washington before coming to an end in San Francisco.
The Bucs did go nearly three years without a road win once. After winning in Minnesota in November 1983 on James Wilder's record-setting 219 yards rushing, it would be another 20 games before fans could wait at Tampa Airport to celebrate their heroes home - Detroit in October 1986. And then it took them another year to win their next one, incidentally in Detroit again.
A moment's silence please
For Jerry Jones and the 1-7 Dallas Cowboys, beaten 45-7 by Green Bay. OK moment over, bwahahahahahahaha .... couldn't have happened to a more self-centered egoistical asshole than Jerry Jones.
The big man and the PAT
Ndamukong Suh missed an extra point for the Lions yesterday after regular kicker Jason Hanson was hurt. Outside of the fact that it kept me in the Survivor contest when the Jets came back to win in overtime, this to me indicates player over coach power in that a defensive lineman made the kick and not the punter or someone more athletic.
I don't buy all the "I wanted to be a soccer player when I was younger" crap that Suh came out with after the game. This was media hype and turned out to really hurt the team. When John McKay famously used offensive lineman George Yarno to kick in the 1983 season finale, the Bucs were 2-13 and losing the game. And P Frank Garcia was nowhere to be seen at that end of the bench.
Suh has had a good first two months to his NFL career, has been hyped in the media and even did five minutes with Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon on PTI last week. This was coach Jim Schwartz needing a kicker, Suh realising the publicity if he made it, and Schwartz not wanting to piss off his star player. Bad move. But as I said, it did help me out.
Defending the indefensible
One of the best stories from Week 8 came in the Tennessee v San Diego game when Titans' special teamer Donnie Nickey was ejected for punching the referee. He wasn't trying to hit the official but was off balance when getting up and instead of slugging Scott Mruczkowski of the Chargers, got the guy in the black and white instead.
But the real classic is the way he tries to defend himself like he's going to avoid the penalty and the ejection. Just watch this one on Youtube and you'll be howling with laughter. I would love to have been a fly on the wall when Commissioner Roger Goodell issued the fine for this one.
And finally back on the Bucs
Next Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers is a big one. Not just because it's the next game on the schedule but because this is a game the Bucs are supposed to win and will be favoured by quite a few. For a young team, playing the underdog is one thing. It is another to be the big bully and beat up on someone lesser than yourselves. And this is another step the young Buccaneers have to take.
You've been great, enjoy Paul McCartney (OK Nick?)