The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won a game! They crushed the Miami Dolphins on the ground, racking up 140 rushing yards. They stifled them on defense, limiting them to 16 points despite excellent field position for Miami. They played hard, and showed some positives in what has been a miserable season this year. So the natural question is: could this be the start of a turnaround? Could this be the game that changes Tampa Bay's fortunes?
Here's the thing, though: once again, the Buccaneers collapsed in the second half. Yes, they pulled out a win, but this wasn't exactly a case of a great performance -- it was more the result of completely inept play on the part of the Miami Dolphins. The Bucs did everything they could to give away the game: stupid unnecessary roughness penalty, an ugly interception, ineptness on offense, a failure to cover anyone except Mike Wallace.
For the entire second half, this felt like the Jets game, the Saints game, the Cardinals game, the Seahawks game all over again. We'd seen this movie over and over again: the Bucs get a lead, play well in the first half, then slowly but surely give it all away in the second half.
The outcome was different, but the process really wasn't. Mike Glennon's second-half stats: 4/9 for 49 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. The offense managed exactly one halfway decent drive, which admittedly was a pretty impressive display of running the ball down someone's throat. The defense at least held up, only giving up a pair of field goals and one touchdown despite three drives starting deep in Tampa Bay territory. They actually managed to close out the game with two sacks and an interception.
Was this the beginning of some big turnaround for the Bucs? Are they now a fundamentally different team because they finally managed to not lose one of these close games? We can only hope so, but it doesn't seem likely. The team still displayed all of the issues that have held them back: a limited offense, inconsistent quarterback play, coverage breakdowns in the secondary and a massive decline in the second half.
As long as those issues stay, the Bucs are likely to continue to lose games. And no matter how hard they play, Greg Schiano gets his players to perform for him, if he can't find ways to win games, he's not going to be the team's head coach in 2014.