Raheem Morris and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been looking for a win that would put them on the map. A win that would signify that this team is for real, that the rebuilding/reloading is past the initial stages and that the Bucs are a team to be taken seriously. With chances to beat the Steelers, Saints, Falcons (twice) and the Ravens, we thought one of those would be it. But with a few blowouts and few tough losses, the Bucs couldn't put a stamp on what they were trying to accomplish. They still have a chance to make some noise with a win in New Orleans (assuming that the Saints still have something to play for), but after all the searching for a big win, we got something else.
A signature loss.
Sure there were plenty of losses last year, thirteen to be exact. But that was on a young team with a rookie head coach and an understanding that the process was just beginning. This year was supposed to be a step forward, and it has been thus far. And while we've beat up on the low level teams (hello Carolina), we also haven't been able to take that next step. And instead, we've taken a step back.
A loss at home to the winless in 3.5 years Detroit Lions served up a fresh reminder. That though we've made progress, we aren't one of the big boys yet. The direction is clear, progress has been made, and the rebuilding process is going as planned, but it seems the football gods sent us a little message on Sunday, that we aren't quite ready for the big show.
And while this won't go down like the 0-4 finish did a few years back (2008), this loss has an equal sting to it. Playing the lowly Lions (Raiders in 2008) at home with a win getting us in the thick of the playoff picture (into the playoffs). While in 2008 it seemed like the team quit on Gruden, that wasn't the case here. Perhaps the injuries ate us up. Maybe it's the lack of experience. Whatever it was, it was enough to let a win slip away. Credit the Lions for making the plays, but you have to also realize we lost that game. There was no crazy, fluke play that caused us to lose, just lack of execution.
But keep the faith Bucs fans. If nothing else, we've seen that we can compete. Maybe 2010 isn't our playoff year, though we still are alive), but we're taking monumental steps forward to being long time contenders.