1) Yes, a win is a win is a nice. But there's something to be said with getting a solid win that has your offense garnering more TDs than FGs, and with avoiding games that rely on burning off the clock in the last two minutes to eke that win. A team that has to win nail-biters week in week out is not a good team: it's a team with too many problems and relying on too much luck.
2) Player of the game: the strength of this win came from how the offense was able to manage the game (since scoring is not yet a strength, sad to say). That comes down to having a solid running game that gains ground, eats up time, and punishes the opposing D toward victory. To that, huge props to Doug Martin, rookie RB who pounded out 95 yards in 24 carries.
2a) The Bucs' secondary gave up 300+ yards to Cam Newton and 1 TD pass. They also snagged two huge INTs, the first of the game by this new guy at Safety... RONDE BARBER.
2b) The Bucs' defensive front, when they went at Cam full-power, had a great game with a lot of QB pressure and in the Second Half racked up key sacks, including this new guy at Safety... RONDE BARBER. Ronde is currently alone in the category of DB with 20+ INTs and 20+ Sacks (he needs more sacks to get the record for DB sacks ever, but it's doable within this season at this rate): the Old Man of the RayJay needs to get talked about more as a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer.
2c) Good signs of life along the dinged-up D-line: Gerald McCoy opens up his third pro year with a sack, 2 tackles-for-loss, and enough QB pressure to create a loud popping noise in Cam's ears. Mad props as well to DE Michael Bennett. And keeping the Panthers' rushing to 10 total yards? We've been looking for that since December 2008.
2d) Many thanks to Aliq Talib with that blocked punt. Special teams for the most part did above average, a lot better than how they were during the preseason.
2e) Punter Michael Koenen is STILL A GOD AMONG MEN.
2f) Whoever has K Connor Barth for their fantasy leagues is gonna be happy this week.
3) Stat of the game: Time of possession, actually. Bucs had 37 minutes compared to the Panthers' 22 minutes (roughly). This is a sign of several things: confident and powerful running game to eat up time, making more Third Downs to keep drives going, and the other team getting frustrated towards the end of the day making more mistakes.
3a) Next important stat: turnovers. Always key to any football game, because the turnovers kill their offense, pumps up your defense, and gives your offense more chances to score usually at great field position. Bucs forced two INTs and a blocked punt.
3b) Panthers running game: 10 yards total. To be fair, it may have more to do with Carolina missing a key RB in Jonathan Stewart and with the team abandoning their running attack too soon in the game (like, somewhere in the Second Quarter). But the Bucs did not crumple against the run when the Panthers tried: the longest run they gave up was 7 yards.
4) Another key issue of the game: Replacement Refs. How often did they screw up penalty calls? For the Bucs/Panthers game, it wasn't too outrageous (unlike some of the other NFL games that were debacles by the sound of it), but there were a few blown calls that you'd think the regular refs wouldn't have made.
5) In other NFL news: THE TEBOW CAN HANDLE ONSIDE KICK RECOVERIES. ...what?
5a) Washington might finally have a QB the rest of the league can be terrified of.
5b) If Green Bay hates anybody more than the 49ers at the moment, it has to be the replacement refs who effed up their game.
5c) Bill Clinton can give a speech on quantum mechanics and it will still get more viewership than an NFL game.
5d) Philly has to be worried about Vick throwing more INTs than TDs, even when they win.
5e) If Seattle hates anybody more than Arizona at the moment, it has to be the replacement refs who effed up Green Bay's game and let the Niners win...
6) In college football news: who knew Arkansas and Wisconsin were so overrated?
6a) The Big East seriously needs to change their name. C'mon, who effing cares about marketing a brand that's gonna be ridiculed for being geographically inaccurate once the western teams join in? I'm pretty sure the AWESOME Conference name is available... right?
6b) To Texas A&M and Missouri: Welcome to the SEC.
6b1) And to the coaches at Auburn: going 0-2 is not going to look good on your resumes...
6c) Still think it is way too early to have college team rankings: they should wait until Week 3 when everyone's played enough games so we can tell whether or not Notre Dame actually deserves being in the Top 25 again...
7) In baseball news: LETS GO RAYS!
8) One other thought: The Daily Show spent almost an entire episode making fun of Tampa, but when they go to Charlotte do they rag on the DNC host city? No, they do NOT. SHAME, Jon Stewart! SHAME!
9) Next up: Tampa Bay travels north to play a p-ssed off New York Giants team. And considering how the Gints are a slightly better team than the Panthers, this is going to get messy for the Bucs...
So, what do you think sirs?
P.S. Hey! Where's the Polling option? I wanna poll who the readers think were Players of the Game!