I had three themes in mind for this fanpost but went with the headline above because I thought it gave voice to the maturity I've seen in Freeman this season. In 2010, I heard him called the Comeback Kid which was fitting at that time.Yesterday he exhibited that calm, steadfast presence that befit the captain of a ship navigating through a storm.
My two other themes were about managing the highs and lows of the back and forth momentum changes that kept all of us on the edge of our cold plastic seats. I'll admit I had lost hope in that final minute. I suggested we get an early start to beat some of the exiting crowd. In fact, about half of the stadium was already empty with many Carolina fans thinking they had won the game. I'm glad my wife, who is not a big football fan, convinced us to stay.
When Vjax caught that thread-through-the needle pass to bring us within two, you could have heard the proverbial pin drop in that stadium. The look of astonishment and disbelief on Panther fan faces mirrored Cam's dropped jaw look. I felt a mixture of sorrow for these beleaguered fans and still questioned our ability to get the two needed to tie considering we were 0 for 2 on conversions. Then it happened.
The final theme I thought of was how, like in life, sometimes it just comes down to a coin toss. I firmly believe had the Panthers won that toss the odds were in their favor to win that game. Yes, we had Big Mo going for us at that point but as most Buc fans realize we have become experts at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
But not yesterday. I'm still very skeptical about our ability to win 4 of the next six games to make the playoffs. But after yesterday, I'm far less skeptical. I was questioning Sullivan's play calling with Martin making so many up the gut runs for little gain. Were where the screens and getting Martin out to the edges? Josh made a horrible throw resulting in a pick six that changed the momentum of the game. The other interception was a combination of a stiff wind catching the ball and lifting it up just long enough for Vjax to overrun his route. But, that fourth quarter end was simply magical. Even Carolina fans were impressed by our ability to stay calm and plod on to claw out that victory. I heard many comments about wishing they had a Vjax for Cam to complement Steve Smith like we have a Mike Williams.
Equally impressive was the contribution of Clark and other unsung heroes we don't hear much from. Game management by Schiano showed his own maturity as he gets more NFL games under his belt. Martin didn't have a stellar day but when it was most needed he came through. I liked Larsen throwing that jerk off his QB. This is a TEAM that is starting to gel and gets more dangerous with each consecutive win.
So, we beat the Birds once and the Saints at home, take the Philly and St. Louis game and we are in the big dance. After yesterday, that doesn't sound so far fetched anymore.