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Observations From the Game That I Cannot BELIEVE HAPPENED on 11/18/12




1) Did you ever see that Looney Tunes short - Cheese Chasers - where the mice overdose on cheese, go mad, try to commit suicide by cat, drives the cat to paranoia to where the cat tries to commit suicide by dog, and the dog is left sitting there trying to figure out what's what and even uses a tabulating machine, and he sits there looking at the data and then turns to the camera and screams "IT JUST DON'T ADD UP!"

That was this game between Tampa Bay and Carolina. It just does not add up. Ergo, I cannot accept that this game happened.

2) I cannot accept, for example, how the Bucs had taken this victory considering the number of terrible turnovers the team committed: Tampa gave up 3 turnovers to Carolina's 1. The first Bucs turnover was in fact a huge game-changer: Josh Freeman throwing up a terrible, easily intercepted INT that got returned for a Pick 6 TD and stopped the Bucs from scoring for pretty much the rest of the game. The momentum all went to Carolina from that point on. You could see it on the TV: you could hear it on the radio. YOU COULD FEEL IT THROUGH THE AETHER THAT FLOWS THROUGH THE CORE OF THE UNIVERSE ITSELF. And yet, by violating this one tenet of Football Certainty - teams with the most turnovers lose - the Bucs played to an unbelievable win.

3) Doug Martin should have gotten a rushing touchdown. The Bucs had finally driven the ball in the Third Quarter down to the 1-yard-line, they were going on fourth and 1, they had Martin on the field - not Blount, not the other guy who shouldn't ever be on the field when the game is on the line and you NEED your Football Demigod out there to score for you - and he gets the ball and he gets it to the goal line, and he should have had that touchdown but the Panthers knock the ball loose just as he breaks the plane and Carolina recovers and the referees review the play and still get the call wrong and ZOMG the Bucs were not going to win this day, the breaks were against them, you could feel it.

4) And then Carolina goes down the field, scores a TD, they're up 21-10 in the middle of the Fourth Quarter, there is no way the Bucs could come back, game was over, turn off the lights, it's still a good season, Bucs are improving they're just clearly still a few players short of playoff contention...

5) And the Bucs do NOT give up. There is apparently a very good reason they schedule 60 full minutes of playtime after all.

5a) The Bucs' defense clamps down. Mostly because the Panthers are just trying to burn the clock down and cruise to victory... after all, no need to risk more scoring plays when you're up by two touchdowns...

5b) Except that the Bucs get a field goal, and then get the ball back and Freeman starts connecting with his receivers again after 2 1/2 quarters of sheer frustration in the passing game, especially making connections with Vincent Jackson THIS GUY NEEDS TO BE NUMBER ONE ON THE PRO BOWL BALLOTS DAMMIT, leading up to a last second scoring TD, with the Bucs down by 2 points so they GOTTA go for the 2 point conversion and then Freeman tosses it up to V-Jax again because you GO WITH THE GUY WHO GOT YOU THERE and OMFG it's a TIE GAME! OVERTIME!

5c) And the overtime rules are kinda clear: sudden death but ONLY if you score a TD, if you kick a FG then Carolina gets a chance with the ball, so the Bucs make yet another WTH WHERE DID THIS OFFENSE COME FROM drive where Doug Martin RUNS AND RUNS AND then Freeman fakes everybody out by throwing a TD pass to the veteran TE Dallas Clark who has to be loving being on this team now and boom-de-yada THE BUCS WIN THE F-CKING GAME.

6) This is impossible. The stats cannot clearly be backing this up, can it... The Panthers had better third-down conversion efficiency. They made fewer turnovers. Cam Newton was actually a good Quarterback today. Outside of the overtime, Doug Martin had 88 yards rushing through 4 Quarters (in overtime, he got 50, including his longest run of 27 yards). The Bucs barely had a passing attack for 3 full Quarters of play. Mike Williams only made 3 catches out of 9 times the ball got thrown his way.

6a) If the Bucs achieved anything today, it was keeping up with a tight rushing defense, keeping the Panthers to 97 yards on the ground. And getting a ton of Tackles For Loss, whereas the Panthers D had no TFL.

6b) The Bucs defensive line also produced some key plays, including two nice sacks from Michael Bennett (vote him for PRO BOWL, he's earning it!) and Da'Quan Bowers.

6c) But no, I cannot believe this game happened. The Bucs just don't come back and win games they are clearly losing. Either the Bucs are clearly winning, or it's a tight, closely fought game that could go either way. At the 6:00 time left in the 4th Quarter... there was no way the Bucs could have won. Not ever. I never saw this under Dungy, or Gruden, or McKay, or even Wyche, pretty much the best coaches we'd had. This never happened. It couldn't have happened... IT JUST DOESN'T ADD UP!

6d) To quote a guy writing about the 1951 one-off game between the Dodgers and the Giants: The Art of Fiction is Dead.

7) In other NFL news: I cannot believe that Aqib Talib took an INT for a Pick 6 TD in his first game with New England.

7a) I cannot believe there were two other overtime games in the early round of Sunday games.

7b) I cannot believe that The Tebow can abide in New York. Each play he attempted - 1 pass, 2 rushing - he ended up with minus yardage. He cannot stay in New York: being on the Jets is killing his career.

7c) I cannot believe the Bucs won a game they were clearly losing. I STILL CANNOT BELIEVE IT! Can YOU?!

8) In NHL news: I cannot believe that the U.S. Government has not yet intervened (hello, Dept. of Labor! hello, Justice guys!) in stopping Gary "Worst Commish EVAH" Bettman from his all-too-obvious scheme to kill professional hockey for all time. C'mon, people, SOMEBODY out there has to be in a position to file charges or something...!

9) In pro baseball news: the city of Miami should be issuing an arrest warrant on Jeff Loria for two counts of murdering baseball franchises - Montreal Expos and now the Marlins. My God, I cannot believe that anyone should ever trust Loria again considering the number of back-stabbing moves he's made over the years.

10) In college football news: I cannot believe we are stuck with Notre Dame as the last unbeaten that can qualify for BCS contention (Ohio St. is unbeaten but they're barred this season from bowls). Either we're going to have a huge fight between 2-3 (or even 4!) one-loss teams, or Notre Dame can still lose a game before season's end and we're stuck with a handful of one-loss teams screaming for PLAYOFFS this season. I would be enjoying the schadenfreude but I have no love for Notre Dame... so...

11) Next week: I believe the Bucs are going to be playing Atlanta at home in a game that has major NFC South division implications. For real?!

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