Raheems "race to ten" has been covered ad nauseam. The initial stories were in jest. Unless one was an avid Tampa fan and watched how the team performed in the second half of last year, you would see the record of 3-13 and think that a winning record was years off, let alone a ten win season. Once the Bucs started to win games this season, it became a little more realistic. Even after this weeks recent loss to the Falcons, I believe the Buccaneers can still reach ten wins.
Over the past week I've been hearing comments complaining about Tampa "losing by a yard," which is something said out of complete ignorance. Allowing Michael Turner to rush unabated for sixty minutes and never establishing their own running game should be attributed immense credit for the loss. This was a game that no one expected Tampa to win, and fans should be happy that they proved able to compete with Atlanta.
Though Raheems crew came up short of the win the team was able to establish that they can contend with a team considered elite, and within their own division. Tampa is the second youngest team in the league and they seem like they're growing with one another and becoming dependable. This group of youths almost pulled out a win against the team with the most wins in the league, and that is stunning.
Matt Ryan wasn't brought down for a sack last week, however he was uncomfortable throughout the afternoon. Pressure was brought by almost everyone in the rotation, and McCoy getting double teamed enabled that. As far as the offensive line is concerned, with only two true starters entering the game at their positions (Penn, Joseph) the three back ups performed admirably. Josh Freeman was given decent pass protection, but the line couldn't seem to open holes for Blount or Williams.
Arrelious Benn was able to snag his first regular season score, and Mike Williams continued to lead his campaign for Rookie of the Year. Fans that have worried about Benn have only done so because his colleague has been performing phenominally well for a rookie. Now, Arrelious is starting and has given fans a glimpse of what made him a second round pick. A positive side note, for someone with questionable speed, Benn was able to beat everyone on the flea flicker that was unfortunately underthrown.
The offense is capable of lighting it up, mostly because of Freeman manning the helm. The first rounder McCoy has been steadily improving, getting off the ball extremely quickly (albeit that has gotten him offsides in the past). It should be noted that the offensive line and secondaries are playing without most of their starters. They'll be facing Carolina this afternoon, and after handily beating them earlier in the season I feel the progression of the Buccaneers should yield them another victory, regardless of injury. Each remaining team on the schedule is beatable as far as Tampa is concerned. Several remaining games are against teams that have completely broken down in a game or two this season (New Orleans, Baltimore), and my hopes remain high that out of the remaining 8 this team can go 5-3, just as they have up to this point.