Well, how about that? Not many experts and observers gave the Bucs much chance in Pittsburgh. One writer said Tampa Bay had 1% chance at winning this week. Welcome to the One Percent club, Bucs fans!
It was a gutty, hard fought victory in a place that hasn't been kind to away teams (especially ones from Central Florida) and one this team desperately needed for their own confidence and the sanity of their fanbase.
The Bucs may go out next week and get blasted by ticked off New Orleans Saints team but at least this week they're not staring over at the abyss of oh-and-forever. For one great week, the Bucs looked like an actual NFL team that can compete in this league.
And who knows? Perhaps its the rare spark the Bucs need. Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks point to a game in 1996 in San Diego where the media blasted them and said they had no chance. They decided right then and there that they weren't going to take it anymore. The Bucs went out and stunned the Chargers that day, sparking the turnaround under first year coach Tony Dungy and setting the stage for the first sustained run of success in this franchise's history (and eventually a Super Bowl title).
We know the beating the Bucs took in local and national media this week, some of it from this guy right here (pointing to myself as if you can see me). Perhaps McCoy, David and Glennon heard the criticism and said, "You know what? Enough of this crap. Lets go out and win a dang game."
They fought their hearts out and came out on top. Perhaps they learned a little about themselves along the way. As did we.
1. The debate is over. Mike Glennon should be your quarterback for the remainder of the 2014 season. Don't give me this "You shouldn't lose your job to injury," nonsense. Frankly, Josh McCown lost this job long before hurting ligaments in his throwing hand. He lost the job by becoming the antithesis of what he was brought in to be. He didn't have a calm, poised veteran presence. He wasn't smart with the football. He certainly didn't make the plays when the Bucs needed it.
You know who did? Mike Glennon. Now, I'm sure Leo or Gur will take a look at the All-22 and show us where Glennon missed this route or led the receiver a little too far here and how he wasn't pinpoint accurate with all of his throws.
I get that. Mike is never going to be confused with Drew Brees. But damn if Napoleon Quarterback doesn't have tiger blood, huh? That strike to Lou Murph was a laser, in traffic and in stride allowing the newly signed receiver to streak down the middle of the Steelers secondary and nearly score himself.
The touchdown pass was low, fast and only where Jackson could get it.
Glennon shook off an unproductive first half to go toe-to-toe with one of the best quarterbacks in the game in Ben Rothlisberger.
He didn't blink. He didn't freak out at the first signs of trouble. He stood back there, stoic like a throwing giraffe and made play after play to get his team the victory it so badly needed.
2. I think so more kudos should also be directed toward the offensive line, who gave Glennon a clean pocket most of the ball game. Glennon was sacked once but for the most part had the time to look down field and find receivers. The running game was a struggle and let's face it, Tampa Bay in the first half did little to disguise what they were doing with the two tightend big sets. We'll talk more about that later.
But in the passing game, the o-line did their job and that's all you can ask of them. Tampa Bay may finally be finding some continuity along their offensive line.
3. I'm going to slam Marcus Arroyo and praise him all in the same point. First, the horrid play calling in the first half. I don't believe I've seen a more conservative game plan than the one the Bucs came out with in the first half - against a Steeler defense decimated by injuries.
I tweeted it multiple times:
For the first half it looked like that would be the case. Big Ben had the Steelers offense humming, the Tampa Bay defense couldn't get off the field and the Bucs were straight conservative Lovie ball as they blew a 10 lead.
To Lovie and Arroyo's credit, they figured it out and the second half was a completely different story. The Bucs were more aggressive, took the training wheels off and began to attack Pittsburgh's weaknesses. Sure, the delay of game penalties were inexcusable. There were times Arroyo looked completely lost, but I liked the more imaginitive play calling in the second half.
Heck, people have been second guessing the HB pass call but I loved it. It showed guts and imagination to make that call in that situation.
Arroyo proved to me he can adjust to the situation and Lovie proved he can let the kid do his job. Well done, Arroyo. There's still some improvement needed but it's a start.
4. As for the defense, let's start with some positives. It was funny. On the sack fumble I literally said, "Who the hell is number 90?". Oh wait...that's Michael Johnson! Yes, Virginia, there was a Michael Johnson sighting! It was a gutty performance from "The Final Piece". You could tell his bum wheel was bothering him a lot but he registered two sacks, a tackle for loss and was in the backfield for a lot of the game. He took advantage of the one-on-one matchups even with the injuries. As for Gerald McCoy. What else can you say? This team goes through him.
Lavonte David still isn't where he needs to be in this defense but he did make a ton of great plays out there.
The Bucs had to stop the number one ranked rushing attack in the league and did an admirable job, holding the Steelers to just 85 yds rushing and 3.1 yds a carry.
Couple that with 5 sacks (all by the d-line), 8 tackles for loss and 5 QB hits, it was a pretty good day for the front seven.
5. Now the bad. Dane Fletcher is terrible in coverage. Just terrible. He falls for play action every single time giving a huge gulf of space for tight ends and wide receivers to exploit. He wasn't alone. The Bucs safety play is horrible, just horrible. If you're wondering why the Bucs are struggling in pass defense, look no further than Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson/Major Wright. When the corners are in cover 2, transferring their receivers to you expecting you to be there and you're darting to the middle of the field thinking it's Single High Safety, bad stuff happens.
Right now the Bucs' safeties have no clue, absolutely no clue what they're doing out there. They won't be competitive on pass defense until they do.
6. Even though Big Ben and Antonio Brown were carving up the Bucs abhorrent secondary like a hot knife through butter, you do have to hand it to the defense for bowing up in the fourth quarter and giving the offense a chance. Pittsburgh's last three drives ended in punts. On the road, against a hostile crowd where any points surrendered may seal your fate, the Bucs defense rose to the occassion and gave Tampa Bay a puncher's chance.
7. Did you turn off your TV when the Bucs failed on fourth down at the 10 yard line? I don't blame you if you did. I, like many, thought it was all over and began to formulate in my mind how to write about another heartbreaking defeat. This had a close-but-no-cigar Seattle game feel to it, didn't it? It took a shanked punt and some amazing gutty throws by Napoleon QB to steal victory from the jaws of defeat. It was a pleasure to see and I'm certain some richter scales in the Wesley Chapel vicinity were set off by this big boy's unabashed cheering.
I think the most encouraging thing was to see the Bucs not find ways to lose the game but generate ways to win.
8. I was so sad to see Mike Evans go down with the groin injury. He was really stepping up for the struggling V-Jax and you could see the makings of a playmaker for the Buccaneers. Then, as Buc Luck would have it, he pulled up lame on a deep pass (that led to Glennon's only interception) and was lost for the rest of the contest.
Let's hope it's not serious and it won't cost Evans a significant amount of time. The Bucs need him if they hope to sustain some success the rest of the way.
9. I know many Steeler fans are lamenting the blatant holding by Anthony Collins on Doug Martin's touchdown run. Yes, indeed the Refs missed the obvious call. They also missed Antonio Brown shoving Alterran Verner to the ground to catch his touchdown pass to put Pittsburgh ahead in the first place. Let's just call it even, huh?
10. I know, I know. I feel silly even typing this. The rest of the NFC South lost on Sunday. Don't look now but your Tampa Bay Buccaneers are just a game out of first place. The South may keep the Bucs in this thing for a bit. Carolina has been destroyed in consecutive weeks (what's going on with that defense?), Atlanta looked dreadful in Minnesota and New Orleans looked listless and not competitive against an average Dallas team. If the Bucs pull off another road win in New Orleans...nah, let's not go there...yet.