These last two season have seen a lot of mending. Reparations for an NFL franchise that had not seen the playoffs in thirteen years. Tampa Bay the darling of the NFL’verse. For a town that for so long put in its dues, the title of Champa Bay, and all the pomp and circumstance that goes with it. But what memories will endure the longest? The rights made wrong? The history ledger brought to even. The paybacks that were a long time coming?
This, That, And The Other Thing
It started with last years postseason while the world watched the Tom Brady experiment. As this team was waking up to the thought of being a champion. A Buccaneers team that hadn’t even won its own division, positioned itself as a wildcard participant. That first postseason game at Washington was close. Much more than most thought it would be. The Buccaneers coming out victorious, 31-23.
That next week, a rematch with a divisional foe, New Orleans. Having dropped two games to the Saints during the regular season, Tampa Bay would hand Drew Brees a loss in his final NFL game. Winning again on the road, By the score of 30-20. Then, the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Only the field wasn’t so frozen, the Packers were. Buccaneers would win 31-26. Sounds closer than it really was. The season would end with the team becoming the first NFL team to host a Super Bowl. And man was it SUPER! The Buccaneers defeat the Chiefs 31-9. Again, sounds closer than it really was.
What About The Revenge
Then there are the Rams of Los Angeles. Or is it St. Louis? Or Los Angeles? No matter. Whether it was a 1979 dream season, or a Bert Emanuel catch and the greatest show on turf. The Rams have had their history against the Buccaneers in the postseason. In 1999, the best defense in the NFL would go up against the greatest offense that year. The Rams defeated the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship game, 11-6. In 1979, Lee Roy Selmon and company would make it to the NFC Championship, just three years removed from 0-26. Another low scoring affair with the Rams coming out on top, 9-0.
What is different in 2022? Well. No offense, but, the offense. Along with a championship caliber defense. As witnessed last week against the Eagles. Another playoff legacy team for Tampa Bay. This current Buccaneers squad comes at you from all sides. Which is what will be needed this Sunday. In 1979, and 1999 the Buccaneers went up against the Rams in the postseason and loss. Both times, with questionable offenses but championship defenses. Scoring just “six points” between the two games. The 2022 Buccaneers will have none of that.
This Sunday may be about defending the championship. It may be sold as Brady vs Stafford, or Arians vs McVay. It could even be the battle to see who hosts the NFC Championship, should the 49ers take care of business in Green Bay on Saturday night. All that matters, one supposes. But first and foremost, this game is for something greater. It’s for Lee Roy Selmon and Ricky Bell. For James Cannida and Bert Emanuel. For all the Buccaneers who climbed to the top but came up just short of the summit, losing to the Rams both times.
This game is about revenge. Drawing the ledger even. The Buccaneers rightfully taking what is theirs, defeating the Los Angeles Rams. This time it’s personal. And personally, would Buccaneers fans want it any other way?