Observations From the "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away" Sloppy Bucs/Lions 11/24/13 Game with poll

1) It's not that it's a 3-game winning streak for the Bucs. It's not that the Bucs are no longer the worst team in the NFC South (dammit Atlanta). It's that this win is going to mask the fact that Schiano is still a terrible head coach and that the team is winning in spite of his play-calls and questionable moves.

When a team like Detroit - with its decent talent but questionable coaching of its own - coughs up as many turnovers as it did (SIX if you count the blocked punt), NOT winning a game like this would take considerable effort to openly choke. And still, this game was down to the last minute before the win was assured.

2) The best thing you can say about the Bucs is that our defense came to play. Even with the occasional brain fart AKA stupid penalties, our D did its best to keep the Lions' key player WR Calvin Johnson under wraps. With that in mind, I gotta give Player of the Game props to LB LaVonte David. 12 tackles, 9 solo, 1 INT, pursuing ball-carriers wherever he could. He is Derrick Brooks reborn. If he doesn't get Pro Bowl starter, he oughta sue for emotional damages. This is one of the top three linebackers in the game today.

2a) WR Tiquan Underwood had a career day, catching for 108 yards and a monster deep throw TD in the Fourth Quarter that got the Bucs the first late-game lead in, what, ages. Vincent Jackson should be seeing fewer double-teams from here on,

2b) DE Adrian Clayborn was playing well enough to earn some cred. There were a few misses, but he hit with 3 Tackles For Loss and got a sack, which was sweeeet.

2c) LB Dekota Watson got the other sack for the Bucs, and did well spelling a linebacker corps missing a key player in Mason Foster.

2d) CB Danny Gorrer blocked a punt in the Fourth Quarter, recovered by FB Larson. This was like right at the 11-yard line and a great opportunity for the Bucs to carve out a bigger late-game lead. But a bit more on that later...

2e) Let's be fair. While QB Mike Glennon didn't have a great game - he held the ball too long on some plays, didn't scramble better, got sacked at the worst times - he at least didn't force turnovers and played confident. His deep throws were catchable, which is rarely something you could say about Freeman. And he did a good job of spreading the passes around rather than forcing it to V Jax every pass play.

2f) When Darrelle Revis went out with a groin injury, rookie CB Johnthan Banks was asked to cover Calvin Johnson, one of the top WRs in the league. While Banks did get some additional help from the safeties covering him, Banks did a decent job keeping Johnson from being a major factor in the Fourth Quarter, and snagged the game-clinching INT.

3) Let us note the Goat of the Game. I mentioned earlier that blocked punt the Bucs recovered deep in Lions territory. When the Bucs Offense couldn't convert it into a TD, they at least had the ball 35 yards out for a Field Goal. This is a range every pro kicker should make with one eye closed. Instead Rian Lindell kicks it over the goalpost in a way that made it a missed FG. FROM 35 YARDS OUT. He missed another Fourth Quarter kick that could have given the Bucs some comfort room in their narrow lead, but he missed that too. For the first time in ages from Martin Gramatica's sorrowful last year with us, the Bucs do not have a reliable kicking game,

4) These were the guys who played like Goats except for the fact they stepped up at key moments. These guys in the secondary - Keith Tandy, Leonard Johnson - were getting burned early and often by the Burleson and Pettigrew, but they each snagged interceptions that kept the Lions from scoring and building on their lead. Johnson even ran his INT back 48 yards for a Pick-6 score, giving the Bucs the halftime lead. I'd have put Johnson in the Player category, but yeah he was pretty sloppy much of the game...

5) Statistics of the game: Turnovers. Bucs snagged 4 Interceptions and 1 Fumble recovery, to giving up NONE to the Lions. When you add blocked punts to the equation, Bucs had 6 TOs to the Lions' 1. Usually the team giving up the most turnovers loses, especially giving up 5 of them. And still the Bucs were thisclose to choking it...

5a) Penalties. Bucs caused 9 penalties, especially a bunch of personal fouls that kept Lions' drives alive. In fact Detroit got more First Downs out of Penalties (5) than they did running the ball (4). This is going to haunt the Bucs all season long. And this is still on the coaches, who need to be maintaining on-field discipline as well as the off-field stuff.

5b) After last week's rushing extravaganza, the Bucs could only muster 22 total rushing yards today. Blame it on an offensive play-calling that had Rainey run up the middle where there were no runs to be had. Doug Martin suffered the same problem. We don't seem to trust running it off-tackle more or to the outside more. And that's on the offensive coaches too.

6) In what had to be the craziest play of the day, the Bucs gave up a huge pass reception to Kris Durham on the sideline, but during his handling of the ball Durham just loses his hold on the ball and it slips out onto the ground before he's knocked out of bounds. The ball's just sitting there and Kelcie McCray (I don't even know what position he plays!) scoops it up for a fumble and return. Did Durham have possession? (he did) Did Durham fumble before stepping out (he did) Was that a huge sign that Detroit was jinxed? (probably)

7) In other NFL news, the Jacksonville Jaguars are no longer the worst team in the AFC let alone the NFL. That would be Houston (they're tied for third in the South, but Jax has the tie-breaker spot). The Texans are now Tanking For Teddy.

7a) Atlanta Falcons are now officially Tanking For Teddy.

7b) The Minnesota Vikings might be tanking, except they've tied a game with Green Bay so it's screwing up the grading curve.

7c) Who the bleep told the St. Louis Rams they should be winning games? Shouldn't they be driving away fans to secure a return to Los Angeles this off-season?

7d) Nobody wants to win the NFC East or NFC North.

8) In college football news, DAMMIT BAYLOR. DAMMIT OREGON. Now we gotta hope for Northern Illinois to bust the BCS bracket.

8a) I think the people believing Alabama is gonna roll into Auburn and clinch an undefeated season heading into postseason are underestimating the War Eagles (screw the Tiger logo, we all know what Auburn should be). This is not another rivalry game: this is one of the biggest rivalries in college sports of all time. Auburn has every reason to win this, to ruin Alabama's quest for three-time dominance, to make a play for the BCS title game itself.

This will not be a game. This will be war. I am not kidding.

8b) I'm being philosophical in noting that the Florida Gators were due for a lousy season. I'm not talking an 8-4 minor bowl year, I'm talking a flat-out more than 6 losses bad season. It'd been so long for a really bad year that I think the fandom had gotten a bit soft, a bit lax about cherishing the 8-4 years as decent years. No, I think this should give the Gator fanbase something to think about while they're burning the Muschamp effigies.

9) In hockey news, I really really think the Lightning should try for more winning streaks than losing streaks. We were soooooo good last week, and now...?

10) Next up: Bucs travel to Carolina. If we're gonna get the #Fire Schiano movement back on track, we're gonna have to hope the Panthers stomp the Bucs next week.

But this means rooting for the Panthers.



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