In a game that looked like it was going to get ugly early, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers managed to pull it together and beat the Detroit Lions. The first few minutes of this one felt like a kick in the stomach to Bucs’ fans, as the Lions raced out to a 17-0 lead after the first quarter. But the Bucs came back and thanks to 35 unanswered points, were able to get their eighth win of the season. With the Carolina Panthers losing to the Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay is now in first place in the NFC South.
A few notes from the game:
1. The Bucs’ defense played great again. After a first drive in which the Lions’ offense looked impressive, Tampa Bay woke up and shut them down for the rest of the game. The Bucs held the Lions to 207 total yards and sacked Detroit quarterbacks four times, including two by defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson. The game ball goes to Ronde Barber who got his first – and second – interception of the season, returning one for a touchdown in the third quarter.
2. It’s been great having Warrick Dunn back this year. After losing Earnest Graham for the season, Dunn was thrust into the role of primary ball carrier. He answered the call with 90 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown. Dunn also led the team with five receptions.
3. THE CADILLAC IS BACK!!! Ignore the fact that Carnell Williams only rushed for 27 yards at a rate of 1.7 per carry. All you should be focusing on is that Williams was back on the field and carried the ball 16 times. He needs to get comfortable with taking hits and making cuts and having a big lead late in the game was a perfect opportunity to get Williams on the field. We can check that off the list and now watch him improve in the coming weeks.
4. Clifton Smith energized the team with a 70-yard punt return touchdown in the third quarter. Smith is making people quickly forget that guy the Bucs took in the second round of this year’s draft. BUT, he’s also making me very nervous. Smith put the ball on the ground for the fourth straight game. I love what he’s doing for the return game, but he needs to hold onto the ball. Luckily Tampa Bay got the fumble in this game back, but the Bucs can’t afford these mistakes as they get closer to the playoffs.
Although ugly in the beginning, an 18-point win is an 18-point win. I’m not sure how many people can honestly say they thought the Bucs would be 8-3 at this point in the season, but that’s where they stand and we all should be very happy.