Today, the Buccaneers crushed the Seahawks despite sadly losing Arrelious Benn and Earnest Graham early in the game. After a slow start they dominated that game, especially on offense. Freeman threw for five touchdowns, two to Kellen Winslow Jr., two to Mike Williams and one to the nearly forgotten Maurice Stovall. And in the process, several players on the team set or tied a number of different team records.
The first record pertains to the team as a whole. The 2010 Tamp Bay Buccaneers are now the first team to have a winning season while starting 10 rookies over the course of a season. That's a pretty amazing fact, and a testament to the coaching of Raheem Morris and his assistant coaches.
The records don't stop there of course. Josh Freeman's 5 touchdowns tie a franchise single-game record, set in 1987 when Steve DeBerg threw for 5 touchdowns in a 48-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons. This is also the 10th time a Bucs quarterback has thrown for at least 3,000 yards in a season, and he's not done yet. He's also the youngest Bucs QB to throw for that many yards, and the third 2nd-year QB to do so after Vinny Testaverde and Craig Erickson. Furthermore, Josh Freeman is on pace to break the Bucs record for fewest interceptions in a full season with 6. It is currently held by Brad Johnson, who set the record in 2001 with 11 interceptions. Finally, Freeman has now thrown for 23 touchdowns which is the 2nd-best total in team history. And he has a legitimate chance to break Brad Johnson's record of 26 touchdowns. Josh Freeman has had a terrific season, and looks like a true franchise quarterback. Perhaps the first quarterback in Buccaneers history around whom a team will be built that can compete at the highest level for a long time.
There was also Legarrette Blount's superlative day. He rushed for 164 yards on 18 carries for a 9.1 yards per carry average. Only Errict Rhett has ever rushed for more yards in one game as a rookie than Blount, as Rhett rushed for 192 yards against the Redskins in 1994, but it took him 40 carries and hence a 4.8 yards per carry average to get there. Blount is only the second Bucs running back to have a 9.1 yards per carry average or better and 150 yards in a game, with Warrick Dunn's 210-yard game against the Cowboys in 2000 being the other occasion. He's also just the third Bucs rookie to rush for at least 800 yards in a season.
And then there was Mike Williams, the Bucs rookie who has made big plays all season long. The receiver had 2 touchdowns in the game which tied a rookie record, and this marked the 6th time in team history that a Buccaneers rookie caught that many touchdown passes. More than that, he had already broken the Bucs rookie record for receiving touchdowns in a season before the game with 8, as Michael Clayton had set that record at 7 touchdowns in 2003. With this game Mike Williams managed to get to 10 touchdowns, which not only increased that record, it also broke Lars Tate's rookie record of total touchdowns, which was set at 8 touchdowns in 1988. And finally, Mike Williams tied the team record for receiving touchdowns at 10, set by Joey Galloway in 2005. This makes the rookie receivers only the second Buccaneer to catch 10 or more touchdown passes in a season. Mike Williams has had a superb season, and he should be a contender for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Of course, despite all those broken records the Bucs are far from certain to make the playoffs. Several scenarios to make the playoffs remain, all of them complicated and requiring other teams to lose. One thing that would help the Bucs immensely, would be the Saints losing to the Falcons tomorrow. So as much as it may hurt, Bucs fans may have to root for the Falcons on Monday night.