Yomp is a word. It's for you British fans out there (and yeah the Bucs have Brit fans!)
1) This wasn't a Signature win: not a win that we could point to as a sign to the rest of the league that the Bucs are gonna steamroll through the regular season. This was only a Must-Win game because it was against a rival and against a team the Bucs are supposed to grind into the dirt. I would label this game a Satisfying win. Purely enjoyable and fun to watch the highlights on the Intertubes later in the week.
2) Player of the Game: You know, I've given props too often to QB Freeman. Oh, sure he threw 241 yards, two touchdowns, no picks. It's the same old same old. It's time we give props to others who made great plays this game and proved that, yes, they're still alive.
I'm talking about:
2a) TE Kellen Winslow. He's been playing and he's been a key player on third downs and on long drives. The problem was, when we got into Red Zone range he disappeared. No TDs so far this year. Until this game. Fantasy owners, REJOICE!
2b) RB Cadillac Williams. His running game had gotten down into terrible numbers: 1.5 yards per carry, if at all. Barely anything longer than 8-10 yards on any given carry. It was sad. All those bad knee injuries... the need for another rookie RB to step up in Blount to take more carries... the only thing Caddy brought to the game now was a veteran's awareness to block during pass plays and to make himself open for screen passes. So it's good to see him get both key touches (that screen pass for a first down late in the game to keep the last drive going) and a huge run play with that 45-yard TD run where he just sprinted untouched through the first two lines of defense. Nice to see you again, Caddy.
2c) Nice to mention our First Rounder DT Gerald McCoy. Forced the early fumble that led to the quick TD, and was part of the goal-line stand that kept the Panthers out of the end zone in the last minute of the game.
3) Gotta admit, Blount's rushing touchdown was a thing of beauty getting hit mid-air, SPINNING instead of somersaulting and having enough awareness to reach out for the goal line for the score.
4) Statistics of the Game: most notable was the penalty problem. 10 Penalties for 80 yards. Worst of all, the penalties came on the offense that led to them stalling, and the defensive penalties late in the game where the Panthers were clawing for a last minute score to make themselves look better for the post-game interviews.
4a) Combined rushing for the Bucs: 186 yards rushing. And Freeman was third on the yardage count for once! Blount with 91 yards and Williams for 62 yards. Having two RBs as decent ground threats now make the play-action pass plays easier to sell (and conversely, the draw runs like the one Caddy used to get his TD).
4b) The disappointment: The Bucs were coming in with a secondary that was near top of the whole league in INTs against a Panthers offense with a rookie QB in Clausen. And a Carolina offense lacking their top RBs. The minimum count I had on expected INTs was at two. And yet the Bucs failed to snag an INT: a combination of problems with the secondary still filled with rookies and second-stringers and somehow Clausen given orders not to force the ball downfield more than needed. Which was a moot point itself: Clausen seemed to get so little pressure from the D-line and any blitz packages than he was only sacked twice (by non-linemen) and flushed out of the pocket, what, three times the whole game?
5) The great news: The Bucs have doubled their win count from last year. They are showing signs of being a far better team than last year, and with the right tweaking and player additions this coming off-season could be a MONSTER of a team next year (pending lock-out).
5a) The good news: The Bucs are a serious contender for a playoff spot at this point: outside of Green Bay/Chicago in the North and with the Saints tied with us in the South, there's nobody else that looks solid enough a team to compete (The East and West are collapsing within their own divisions).
5b) The bad news: The Bucs still have enough obvious gaps of talent at key positions (DE, LB, one CB side of the field) on defense, and the team as a whole still raw with rookies at almost every position, that there are NO guarantees for a post-season. And part of me fears that reaching the post-season so soon may hamper / cause complacency for the team the next season... maybe it's just me...
6) In other news: Detroit seriously can't catch a f-cking break.
6a) Buffalo just caught a break, making it easier to justify their franchise moving to Toronto/Los Angeles/Oklahoma City/Birmingham/anywhere that a city or state can be scammed out of billions to build a privately-owned football stadium.
6b) The Dallas Cowboys win a game, proving that it wasn't their head coach that was the problem it was the players, meaning that by next week they'll get lazy again and re-continue their losing habits.
6c) The Miami Dolphins will begin auditioning for replacement QBs this Tuesday. Anyone under 50 with the ability to throw five yards downfield are requested to attend.
7) In college news: rumors that Cam Newton sold his soul for more than $100k are being investigated by the NCAA. Solid evidence that the BCS colleges sold their souls for $100 billion in TV bowl moneys will never be investigated so the hypocrisy will continue another 10-20-50 years. You think?
As Molly Ivins said: It's not what's illegal that's a crime, it's what's legal that is.
8) Next week: The Bucs travel to the West Coast for a game against San Francisco.
Despite the poor win-loss record for the Niners, this is a dangerous game for the Bucs. They're rarely good over on the West Coast (one win in over 35 visits, right? that's not including the Super Bowl in San Diego). The Niners are rebuilding as much as the Bucs are, and have suffered mostly due to unlucky breaks (if the Bucs had as bad a luck as the Niners we'd be 3-6 too). The Bucs' only advantage this game? Our offense may be able to outplay their defense. Past that, this is a scary game...
9) Anything else?