A Disappointing End to a Fantastic Buccaneers Season


This Buccaneers team played hard, and there are a lot of players that deserve their flowers.

But it’s over. The Pewter Pirates are done.

Tampa Bay’s surprise run has unfortunately come to an end, but what a great run it was.

Before their 31-23 loss to the Lions Sunday afternoon, the Bucs had taken the league by storm, with Baker Mayfield picking apart the defending NFC champs in the Wild Card round and the defense making former MVP candidate Jalen Hurts look lost without his favorite weapon AJ Brown.

The Bucs went through a 1-5 stretch during the middle of the season that looked like it was GGs for the season, yet they fought back with a four-game winning streak to take the division for a third consecutive season and a chance to make some noise in the playoffs.

I had no faith in this team at the beginning of the season. I thought they’d be in the conversation for a top-five draft pick. Instead, they managed to figure a few things out and sneak in a playoff victory, and that’s way more than enough to exceed anyone’s wildest expectations.

So sure, the offense looked lifeless at certain points and allowed way too many sacks and negative plays. Baker Mayfield’s pick to end the game was pretty much as horrible as it gets. The defense looked even worse, allowing Lions quarterback Jared Goff hours to throw the ball and find elite playmakers like tight end Sam LaPorta and receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown on seemingly every play.

Carlton Davis III even threw in an inexcusable hands-to-the-face call that all but sealed the loss for the Bucs.

It didn’t help that the coaching staff seemed complacent and willing to let this all happen, but that’s what you get sometimes from the Todd Bowles experience. He’s conservative, he plays it safe and only does what’s best for the defense, not for the team.

Sometimes it works, and this time it didn’t.

But hey, this team played hard, and there are a lot of players that deserve their flowers.

Veteran linebacker and career-long Buc Lavonte David might’ve played his last game for Tampa Bay, and he made some truly wonderful plays that showed he’s still got a lot left in the tank moving forward.

Running back Rachaad White capped off his wonderful second half of the season with an elite receiving TD off another screen pass and making several other great moves to gain extra yardage where the Buccaneers desperately needed it.

So to quote that stupid cliche, don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

Here’s to hoping Tampa Bay figures some stuff out in the offseason, hits on some draft picks, and brings back most of the veteran free agents on smart but also rewarding deals for some players who truly deserve the payday.

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

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