Buccaneers Take the Division, But it Wasn’t Pretty


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are division champs, the Saints and Falcons are not.

It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t fun to watch.

But by golly, the Bucs are NFC South champs for the third straight season for the first time in franchise history, and that is something to celebrate.

Forget the fact that the offense didn’t manage to get in the end zone or crack a double digit point total against the third worst defense in points per game in the NFL (and worst going into Sunday). Forget about Baker Mayfield throwing a trio of interception-worthy plays that were dropped.

The Bucs took down the mighty (now) 2-15 Panthers with a measly nice points scored off the strength of the Bucs defense pitching a shutout. Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. reminded everyone that yes, he should be a Pro Bowler with a TD-saving forced fumble in the first half.

Yaya Diaby added to his team-leading sack total, bringing him to 7.5 for the season despite only getting significant playing time towards the end of the year.

Joe Tryon-Soyinka came through with arguably the biggest play in his young career, with a strip sack of Panthers QB Bryce Young that pretty much sealed the game for Tampa Bay in the fourth quarter.

Offensively, despite the group lacking energy and the playcalling showing little to no creativity, some individual players either hit or came close to some big milestones.

Rachaad White didn’t hit the 1,000 rushing yard mark, falling just 10 yards short, but he came up big with a game-clinching third down conversion on a third-and-two in the Bucs’ final drive and had 75 yards on the ground for the day.

Mike Evans had an uncharacteristically poor performance, only hauling in three of his eight targets for a measly 22 yards receiving, but his running mate Chris Godwin broke through the 1,000-yard barrier for a third consecutive season, giving the Bucs a pair of 1,000-yard receivers for the season.

And most importantly, the Buccaneers won.

So let’s try to focus on the positives. There’ll be a long offseason to pick apart this offense and the coaching staff and talk about draft choices.

For now, the Bucs are division champs, the Saints and Falcons are not.

Fire those cannons.

Follow @ctbrantley12 on Twitter and listen to him on the RBLR Bucs podcast

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This article originally appeared on CLTAMPA.COM and is used with permission.

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