The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished off the 2012 season with a solid performance against the NFC's top seed by beating the Atlanta Falcons 22-17 in the Georgia Dome. It was only the fifth time Atlanta Quarterback Matt Ryan has lost at home in his five year NFL career.
The victory put the Bucs at 7-9 for the 2012 season, the first of the Greg Schiano era. What did we learn from this season?
1. While the season as whole was a failure (any time you're not playing post season football is a failure), there were many positive signs this year:
- The Bucs scored more points this season than any Bucs team in history.
- Tampa Bay had the number one run defense in the league.
- Doug Martin had a fantastic rookie season with a number of highlight reel runs. He finished 5th in the league in rushing (1,454 yds) and had nearly 2,000 yds of total yardage on the season.
- Josh Freeman rebounded from a terrible 2011 with a record breaking campaign - posting career highs in passing yardage (4,065) and touchdown passes (27) while maintaining a +10 touchdown to interception ratio (27 TDs, 17 Ints), or 1.6 (don't ask me how that rating is compiled, I have no idea). His 81.6 QB rating was the second highest of his NFL career.
- The Bucs led the league in tackles for loss with a remarkable 95 (led by Lavonte David's 19).
- The Bucs barely missed on two receivers have 1,000 yds receiving with Mike Williams falling four yards shy. Williams and Vincent Jackson combined for 135 catches, 2,380 yds and 17 touchdowns. They also combined for 41 plays of 20 yards or more.
- The Bucs were explosive, with 69 plays of 20 or more yards this season. By comparison, the 2011 squad had just 44 plays of 20+ yards.
- The offensive accomplishments were achieved by the team despite suffering devastating losses of both Pro Bowl guards in the offensive line.
- The Bucs finished 4-4 on the road including wins against playoff teams Minnesota and Atlanta.
- The Bucs led in 15 of 16 games this season and in their 9 losses, only two were more than a single score.