Observations From a Guy Who Didn't Even Listen to the Bucs/Saints Scrape 10/16/11

1) True story.  Every time I had the radio on, the Bucs played lousy.  So I turned it off, took care of some stuff around the house, then checked the Internet for the score to find the Bucs up 20-7.  Then I turn on the radio and the Saints start driving downfield and I realize I'm jinxing the team by listening.  So I turn it off and did my best to ignore it.

Good thing the Bucs won.  Whew.

2) So how huge is this win?  First, it shows that the Bucs' loss last week against the 49ers would not hamper the team's psyche: they were able to bounce back against a seriously good opponent and eke out a win.  Second, it gives the Bucs a 2-0 lead in the division and a tie (with tiebreaker) for first (which doesn't mean much now, but hopefully in 10 weeks...).  Third, it shows that the Bucs have enough talent across the board now that losing key players like Blount, McCoy and Foster doesn't hurt our chances.

3) Speaking of... Player of the Game time.  Considering the stats is one thing, but getting a sense of how where and when the player's contributions mattered the most is what counts in today's win.  And from the chatter I'm reading online and hearing from the post-game radio talk, it sounds like Earnest Graham had a great afternoon.  Getting 109 rushing yards on just 17 carries doesn't suck either.  But it seems he made some great blocks in passing situations too, and one was apparently for the Benn TD strike.

3a) Serious huge props going out as well to our offensive line, which gave up no sacks and helped Graham earn his 100+ rushing day.  Especially to Jeremy Zuttah, who had to sub for C Jeff Faine when Faine went out with an arm injury.  Zuttah's been one of the solid yet unheralded O-linemen for the Bucs the past two years, gotta start work on a Pro Bowl vote-in for the guy.

3b) Peter Preston Parker with a clutch TD catch-and-run in the Red Zone to put the Bucs up 20-7.

3c) Josh Freeman throwing for 300+ yards and 2 TDs with no INTs.  So the trade talk can die down for now.  ;-)

3d) He'd been out of football for 56 weeks.  He just got re-instated last week.  He comes out and snags an interception at a huge moment in the Second Quarter, which leads to a Bucs touchdown.  Ah yes, Tanard Jackson is back, NFL.  Our secondary is scary again.  >:-)  Give that man a cigar.  And JUST A CIGAR!  Avoid your stash, T!

3e) And what's this about Ronde Barber taking over the headset for defensive playcalling duties?!  Someone give me the details on what happened.

4) Crazy game by the sound of it.  The Saints HC Sean Payton gets knocked off the sidelines with a leg injury?  He had to call the game from the bench for the First Quarter, left for the Second, and spent the rest of it in the booth upstairs (I think).

5) Stats of the game: Turnovers.  I'm a fanatic for turnovers.  The Bucs snagged four: 1 fumble and 3 INTs.  The team scored at least 13 points off the turnovers.  Better still, the INTs kept what would have been a high-scoring  Saints offense out of the end zone, especially LB Quincy Black's pick in the end zone at the end of the game.

5a) It's how the Bucs' defense can give up 300+ passing yards to Drew Brees and still win.

5b) Freeman and the WR corps had at least 6 passes go for more than 15 yards per catch, meaning they were moving the ball well and getting huge yardage.  Freeman did end up with 300+, after all.  And the longest catch of the day was WR Benn's 65-yard TD scamper.

5c) Zero sacks for the Bucs defensive line, but the buzz is that the front four had decent QB pressure for most of the game, forcing Brees to throw early.  The tradeoff was obviously getting those INTs.

5d) Better news for the D-line: the Saints running game garnered a total of 70 yards all day.  While Ingram was able to run for a TD, for the most part the Saints had trouble with their ground game.

6) In other NFL news, Detroit lost to the 49ers (OMG), meaning that San Francisco's drubbing of the Bucs last week wasn't so bad (considering it was a bigger beatdown than what the Lions gave us in Week One).

6a) Do you think Caddy wants to come back from St. Louis...?

6b) Atlanta beat Carolina.  The NFC South is kinda playing out as expected with the Bucs, Saints and Falcons scrambling for the top spot.

7) In college football news, the Big East is inviting every university program in the phone book just to stay alive.

7a) Speaking of the Big East, can someone ask the USF Bulls' coaching staff to stop using Greg Olson's playbook?  It's not helping the Bucs and it's certainly not helping the Bulls.

8) In baseball news, Boston and New York are out of the playoffs.  Meaning $200 million payrolls don't guarantee championships.  SO STOP WASTING THE MONEY!  THE REST OF THE MLB CAN'T KEEP UP WITH THE SALARIES!  DAMN YOU.

8a) The only good thing about the squabble over the Rays' need for a new stadium in a better location: there's no other city they can threaten to relocate to if they don't get their way.  Where they gonna go, Albuquerque?

9) Next up: The Bucs travel to London to do battle against the Silence.  You know, those aliens you forgot you saw the second you look away?  Wait, what was I talking about?

10) Final observation: yes, I didn't post any snarky commentary last week.  Not because it was a terrible loss but because... well, yeah it was a terrible loss.  Sheesh.  Thank God it's not a habit for these guys.

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