It wasn’t pretty. But it was a win. Your Tampa Bay Buccaneers came out swinging after last week’s heart breaker. Jameis did what Jameis does (play smart football), Doug Martin and Charles Simms did what they do, and the defense stood tall forcing 4 turnovers. Kwon Alexander made two incredible plays and looked like a man possessed. The other two turnovers came gift wrapped from the Falcons offense, but we’ll take what we can get.
Suddenly the Bucs were in familiar territory. Up by 17 points, leading 20 to 3. Raise your hand if you didn’t think a Falcons comeback was inevitable. And just like the Bucs of last week, the defense forgot how to cover anybody. The pass rush vanished and Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense turned back into the Falcons offense we were all expecting.
And before you could say “here we go again”, the game was tied and headed to overtime. McCoy called tails and it was tails, but he looked like his tail was tucked between his legs. This is a Bucs defense that lacks confidence, especially when the game is on the line.
Thankfully, our hero arrived in costume, dresssed as number 3 Jameis Winston. This rookie may have come with a lot of baggage, but he knows how to win. He also carries enough confidence for the whole team. Hopefully, it starts wearing off on the defense.
After a long drive in overtime, Barth nailed the 31 yard field goal (he hasn’t missed one yet this year) and the Bucs clung to a 23 to 20 lead. That drive fearured heroics from Mike Evans, Charles Simms, and of course Jameis. One could feel Winston willing the team to win.
After last weeks meltdown in DC, we were all hoping for a TD to end overtime, but that wasn’t in the cards. And to be honest, it was the best thing that could have happened.
For the Buccaneers defense, it was a chance at redemption. Rarely do you get redo’s in the NFL, so this was about as good as it gets. There were demons that needed exorcising from the Redskins loss and the only way to do it was to be thrown into the fire.
With their backs against the wall and the whole world (and many Bucs faithful) expecting the worst, the defense found themselves. Sure, it wasn’t as easy as we’d hoped it would be. An interception or fumble recovery would have been nice. But the game ended in the most poetic way, as McCoy, laying on the ground, reached up and grabbed ahold of Matt Ryan’s leg.
As he held on I couldn’t help but see the symbolism. GMC held on for dear life, just like our defense. Many believe GMC isnt who we need to lead our defense, just like many believe our defense doesn’t have what it takes. And he was knocked down, laying on the groud, all hope seemed lost. Sound familiar? But he reached up and reached out to grab ahold of something, anything that could help this team win.
Thankfully, he found the leg of Matt Ryan. The 4th down pass attempt sailed incomplete and McCoy wept. Game over. For him, and for many Bucs fans, it may have felt like winning the Superbowl. For a team that’s been stuck in the mire of defeat, this win tasted extra sweet. A division rival, 6-1, and on the road no less.
When we look back on the career of Jameis Winston, Kwon Alexander, Gerald McCoy and the other Bucs who are part of the eventual turn around, I think we’ll look to this game, this victory as the starting point of something special. Our team did something today they haven’t done in a long time. They created their identity. They told their own story. Sure, there’s a long way to go, but today we started on the right path.
No, it wasn’t pretty, but it was exactly what we needed.