1) Good Lord. The Bucs haven't had a shutout game since 2004? Must have had a few games where we gave up a field goal or something... ;-)
2) Another thing that was great about this win: the Bucs went against the tides of history that said the Buccaneers cannot win on the West Coast during the regular season. Let's be honest, our visits to San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, San Diego (non Super Bowl) and L.A. when they had teams were not fun. For now, the Bucs can win. Above all, they can WIN on the road, which is really going to be a good thing to have if the Bucs snag a wild card spot.3) Player of the Game: for all the talk about how bad his running has been, Cadillac Williams has gotten two good back-to-back games where he made good effort to find an opening and exploit it. For once, he's not burdened with 1-yard gains every attempt. His touchdown run clinched the first solid drive the Bucs had this game and helped set the tone: and that tone was the Bucs are gonna run the ball.
3a) RONDE! Barber gets his 40th interception of the game, setting the team record and adding one more stat for his resume to present to the Hall of Fame voters when the time comes.
3b) I think Donald Penn has it in his new contract that every road game to California he gets one pass attempt thrown his way. So he's got that going for him, which is nice.
3c) Dear Lord Part Two: Did our defensive line finally get more than one sack per game?! Well, yes yes they did. Going up against a depleted Niner offensive line, this was the one game (so far) where they had any chance of pressuring ANY QB for the whole year (well until Detroit rolls in to town). And the D-line delivered: I think even one of the back-ups got a half-sack. Straight up props to our First Rounder pick, DT Gerald McCoy for getting a sack (his first, or did he get one last week, I forgot...) and for getting pressure up the middle all... game... long...
3d) All Josh Freeman has to do anymore is throw it up in Mike Williams' direction and he will honestly have a 67 percent chance of Williams catching it for a TD... now all we need is a designated driver for Mike Williams and we're set for life Tommy!
4) Attended the first half of the game at a sports bar down the road. The early games had a slew of Steelers and Jets fans (sitting in separate parts of the restaurant, Thank God). I think they were rooting for the Jags' game on one of the small TVs in the corner...
5) Stats of the game: the Tampa Bay Bucs defense has been atrocious against the run all year long. And they were going into this game with RB Frank Gore, a Pro Bowl caliber back who's had 100-plus rushing games the past two games... or more, I lost track. So how'd they do today?
Gore rushed 12 times for 23 yards. The QB Troy Smith had more yards (45) due to scrambling for dear life half the time. When your defense is forcing the QB to have more rushing yards than the established back, your D is having a VERY... GOOD... DAY...
5a) Josh Freeman gets another 2-TD passing game... he's not a dominant thrower putting up massive 4 or 5 TD days, at least not yet. But the better news is the INT count. Zero INTs today, giving him a great 14 TD - 5 INT count. He's showing better decision-making skills (although I got to admit at least twice this game he threw the ball into terrible coverage, he was lucky one of those wasn't an open-field INT).
5b) I don't think either team had a penalty in the first half.
5c) Bucs got more First Downs from rushing than from passing. Best sign that the team HAS a running game now.
6) There may be some grief about Connor Barth's missed field goal attempt. That he's not so hot past the 40-yard distance from the posts. But for this game I think he's got a good excuse: Candlestick is a notoriously bad park due to the swirling winds. Hell, the 49ers didn't even try for a Field Goal when THEY were in range for a try in the Third Quarter...
7) In other NFL news, we can go back to hating the Cowboys again.
7a) Break up the Buffalo Bills. Or better yet, move them to L.A. They'll go bad out there and relocate to Oklahoma City once they get all the money they can out of gullible leaders of both cities.
7b) Is Jacksonville now in the lead for the AFC South?
7c) If Buffalo doesn't want to relocate to L.A., I think the Vikings can make the move. At this point, the Minnesota residents will HELP them move out right about now.
8) Let us be realistic. Anything can happen and the Bucs could still end up with a 7-9 season. But seriously, this is NOT a team that is going to collapse for the last 6 games to cause that kind of disaster. Odds are VERY good now that... pending the Baltimore, Atlanta, and New Orleans games... the Bucs are looking at a 10-6 season. The question is, can they still make the playoffs considering how good these teams - Atlanta and New Orleans in the South, Green Bay and Chicago fighting for the North, Philly and New York struggling for the East - are right now?
9) Next up: The Bucs travel again, this time to Baltimore. The Ravens are one of the winning teams left on the Bucs schedule, and are serious Super Bowl contenders for the AFC. The only good thing going for Tampa Bay? They are road warriors (4-1) right now and could at least give the Ravens a serious headache.
10) Final Observation: Get out those Pro Bowl votes for Freeman, Winslow, Williams, and Barber!