1) I dunno if I ever made this clear, here or on the alt.sports Usenet where I used to post these observations, but the Bucs playing in Washington is never as easy or as fun as it looks on paper. Either it's early in the season when the 'Skins are playing well and haven't imploded, or it's later in the season when it's cold and bad weather that makes the Bucs play worse than expected. This game was no exception.
Also consider that this was one of the few games all year where the Bucs were actually FAVORED going in, and I admit there was a bad vibe to this game.
And then they played it.
It was the Best of times... It was the Blurst of times...2) This was a game of disasters, better than expected offense, worst than expected turnover problems, and plays and results that made you say WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED?
Washington missed field goals in the first half, and even getting one of those back would have made all the difference... When that first kick doinked off the post, you could tell this was gonna be a baaaaaaaad day for everyone involved.
The Bucs made some good efforts getting down to the end zone... and then oops fumbled away.
The Bucs rushing defense hadn't been this bad all year, and considering how weak they looked in September, that's saying something.
The Redskins had their problems as well. The second quarter was all theirs, and they could run at will but they just couldn't finish their drives and suffered for it.
Even the referees had their screw-ups today. The talk is going to be about how they gave the Redskins a First Down they didn't earn which meant they got an extra 4th Down try that shouldn't have happened... and the Football Gods took offense at that...
3) Player of the Game: He'd been overshadowed by the other rookie WR drafted this April, but Arrelious Benn had the kind of day that shows how Freeman is gonna enjoy having No.1 AND No.2 receivers to throw to the next 4-5 years. Benn had 122 yards receiving, made some outstanding deep pass catches in stride, and also contributed with a WR sweep run for a first down.
3a) Kellen Winslow is the go-to guy for Freeman for third down situations. But this was the first time K2 looked like a deep receiving threat on that TD catch he made. I can only hope Winslow makes the Pro Bowl: he doesn't have the impressive stats but he's honestly the key reason why Freeman looks good on game film.
3b) Quincy Black had a good day for the most part, well except for letting that nobody 'Skins RB get record rushing yards... until the forearm injury that ended his season. Totally unfair. He deserves a game ball.
3c) He was on the other team, but RB Ryan Torain had a first half (158 yards rushing!) that running backs would kill to have for a whole game. Why the Redskins abandoned the running game so quickly in the Second Half is a total mystery. The Bucs couldn't have adjusted their defense THAT well...
3d) Props to Coach Raheem on going for the 2-point conversion. It makes sense to get the score to 17-10 just in case the 'Skins had a comeback drive of their own to force overtime (which almost happened). But giving it to Freeman, who can be a FREAKING BULLDOZER if he has to, shows that the coaches might be figuring out that on the goal-line, LET THE QB KEEP IT FOR THE SCORE and stop wasting time and mistakes on hand-offs!...
4) Goat of the Game: I am giving the Bucs first half defense the EVIL EYE right now. You gave a Practice Squad survivor back like Torain to have a career day that even First-Round quality RBs never see. You KNEW coming into this game, with the bad weather, with all that rain, that the running game was going to be the key. AND YOU STILL EFFED UP.
4a) I am not Goating the 'Skins kicker. He was kicking in bad conditions, he had the sun in his eyes, he realized he was the lowest paid player on a Synder-owned team and it was breaking his heart, he was contemplating his next chess move in the game he was playing against Hayesworth, he... he... okay, doinking that first kick off the post, not a good way to start the day. But I am seriously not blaming him for the muffed extra point attempt: that was totally on the long snapper and the holder.
5) The Bucs win on a last-minute missed XP try, which was sheer luck. But the Bucs' luck was mostly bad today: major injuries to two of our key defensive players - DT McCoy's torn biceps, LB Black's broken arm - that is going to seriously crimp whatever talent on defense we had. We're working with Practice Squad scrubs now people. This is NOT good.
6) Stats of the Day: The Bucs gave up more than 100 yards rushing in the FIRST QUARTER (maybe not, but it sure as hell felt like it)... and still won.
6a) The Bucs turned the ball over with 2 fumbles to the Redskins ' 1 fumble... and still won
6b) The referees had a hard time figuring out first downs on the Redskins' last drive, giving them basically an extra play... and the Bucs still won
6c) Because of this stat: the Redskins' kicking unit sucked rhino (two missed field goals, one missed extra-point kick).
6d) Mike Williams caught one pass for 15 yards. And the Bucs won.
7) The Bucs have eight wins at least this season, basically will have a .500 or better season confirmed. Considering every professional prognosticator in the business figured the Bucs would have three wins or LESS this year, this is a huge accomplishment. It proved:
7a) The Bucs made the right move hiring Raheem Morris to be head coach. Just look at Denver who hired a raw young talent to coach... and backfired horrifically.
7b) The Bucs made the right move drafting Josh Freeman to be the franchise QB. I will be eating crow for throwing my 2009 draft hissy fit for the rest of my life.
7c) Nobody in the NFL knows what the HELL they are talking about! Experts, MY ASS.
8) In other news... JEBUS CHRIS did you see what happened to the Metrodome roof?
Personally I think the Vikings' owner(s) sabotaged the roof to force the state of Minnesota to pay for a replacement stadium. And how did they get all those different camera angles?!
8a) The Detroit Lions beat the Green Bay Packers in what was a crazier game than the Bucs/'Skins. Packers lost their QB in Aaron Rodgers relatively early, but it was the lack of a running game that killed them. When Rodgers was the team leader at 25 rushing yards for the whole game, and he was out early, there was something freaking wrong with your running attack.
8b) Half-time check-in on the late games. New England is KILLING Chicago 27-0 right now.
San Francisco is KILLING Seattle 30-7 right now.
Miami's beating the Jets 10-3 right now. Meh.
9) Next up: The Bucs come back to Tampa Bay to play the Detroit Lions. The Lions are scarier looking than their record indicates, given their defensive front is veeerrrrrrry good. Considering the Bucs' patch-work injury-plagued team right now, this is NOT gonna be a blow-out win but a struggle-just-to-survive match-up.
10) One final thought: Have the Bucs ever had an injury-plagued season like this before? Outside of the 1976 season I mean...