Well, that was nice, wasn't it? We saw a laugher at Raymond James Stadium and for once, the good guys weren't on the short end of it. Bucs fans left the stadium with a smile on their face as big as Negan's leaving Rick dumbfounded in Alexandria last night in the Walking Dead (no spoilers).
Oh yes, for Bears fans, it's most certainly Pee Pee Pants City. It was fun to see them leaving with long faces, wasn't it Buc fans?
It's the little things in life that get you through.
Of course, it might be our last smile for awhile, so let's enjoy it while it lasts, right? The Bucs have shown the ability this season of beating the dregs of the NFL which means maybe they're not among them.
1. I so wanted to start this discussion today talking about the defense. They totally deserve it. But then this happened.
Jameis Winston will be talking about this one for a long, long time. https://t.co/TK8LamBlAv— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) November 13, 2016
Probably the most insanely stupid, yet utterly brilliant play I've ever scene in my life. I don't know how he pulled it off and I don't know how the Bucs oft-penalized offensively line didn't get some sort of penalty on that crazy play. It was just another example of Jameis not giving up on a play. Sometimes it ends badly but every once in a while, something like this happens and you just shake your head in disbelief.
For me, this is the best play to date of Jameis' career. Yes, it beats the crazy Atlanta run last year.
2. Okay, to the defense. Now granted, they were playing one of the worst offenses in the NFL in the Chicago Bears, but man - wasn't that the performance you've been waiting to see all season? Take away that flukey Hail Mary at the end of the first half and John Fox's inexplicable need to gain garbage yards at the end of the game and Tampa Bay limited Chicago to just 3 points and the Bucs' defense held the Bears offense to drives of 3 plays or less 7 times.
Add to that four turnovers (five if you count the sack/fumble for the safety, which technically isn't a turnover but gave the Bucs two more points) and 4 sacks of Jay Cutler. Taking away the 50 yards on the hail mary and the 66 garbage time yards, the Bucs defense held Chicago's offense to a mere 167 yards when the game mattered. That's some old school Bucs defense right there.
3. The one area that is of concern is the Tampa Bay run defense. It's still broken. For yet another week, Tampa Bay surrendered 100 yds to a rusher and as a team gave up 122 yards rushing. That can't go on, not with the backs the Bucs have to face coming up.
4. It's Clinton McDonald, not Gerald McCoy or Lavonte David or Noah Spence - Clinton McDonald is really the guy who makes everything happen for the Bucs defense. With him in the game, the Bucs pass rush seems to come alive. It's not necessarily him delivering the pressure (although he did have sack), but McDonald seems to command attention. They can't devote two or three guys to blocking McCoy or double team Gholston, Ayers or Noah Spence. McDonald has to be accounted for and that makes him insanely valuable for the defensive line.
The four weeks he was out, the Bucs defense struggled mightily. Hopefully he can stay on the field and the Bucs defense can begin to turn the corner from being terrible to decent.
5. No, Doug Martin didn't have a great return, but man it was great seeing number 22 in the backfield again. It goes without saying that its going to take a little while for Doug to see the holes and squirt through like we're used to seeing. However, the threat of Doug Martin makes him a target and focus for defenses and helps Jameis immensely. The play action game, something Winston excels at, was deadly on Sunday.
The Bucs will need Martin to be a force in the next few weeks when they step up in weight class yet again. If the Bucs hope to claw their way back into contention, they need to pull off some upsets. They can't do it without Martin being Martin.
6. Just when Martin returns, the offensive line is the next to get the injury bug. Jameis took a hell of a beating on Sunday and you could see by the final drive, he'd basically spent all the energy he had to get the Bucs a win. Playing two rookies in the center of the line, one, fresh off the practice squad, had the result one would expect. At times, Chicago dominate the line of scrimmage and it took some miraculous plays by Jameis to get the offense moving down the field.
Speaking of the offensive line - can our veteran olineman stop killing drives with lazy penalties? I'm looking at you Demar Dotson. While the Bucs youngsters struggled inside, Donovan Smith and Dotson got their backsides kicked on the outside and had to resort to holding, illegal hands to the face and other stupidity to keep Jameis from getting creamed (which he did anyway).
Coach Koetter finally realized Jameis doesn't have to be in on every play in a blow out, pulling out his quarterback after the game sealing score. Behind that line, there was no reason to continue to get him beat up.
7. Mike Evans had a fairly quiet game (by Mike Evans standards) on the field, but off it he's created a firestorm with his decision to sit through the National Anthem as a protest against President-elect Donald Trump. Look, we don't do politics here at BucsNation. As an American, you have the right to free speech. That right doesn't mean you can't be criticized for your stance, and he will be.
As divisive as this election has been, the Buccaneers truly don't need the added distraction this will cause. Whether you were thrilled by the result on November 8th or devastated, what's done is done. Donald Trump, barring some unforseen circumstance, will be the 45th President of the United States. I'm not sure what these protests accomplish and I think we all just need to move on and try to unite as a country. As Lincoln said, a house divided against itself cannot stand.
8. Jameis Winston seems to have fixed whatever was going on with him the first quarter of the season. After the Bucs started the season 1-3 with Winston a below average 8 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, the Bucs' number one overall pick of 2015 has transformed his game. Since the blow out lost to the Broncos, Tampa Bay has won three of their last five games (with one loss coming in overtime to the ascending Oakland Raiders) and their quarterback has thrown 11 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 1, 241 yds, completed 101 of 162 passes, a 62% comp pct for a QB rating of 103.4.
The Bucs have also scored 24 or more points in each of the last four games. The Bucs haven't done that since 2013.
Winston also became the youngest QB in NFL history to reach 40 TD passes (beating Drew Bledsoe's old record) and has more touchdown passes (19) after nine games than any QB in Bucs history.
9. Next up, the Bucs face the Kansas City Chiefs on the road in Arrowhead. KC is one of the best teams in the NFL and the Bucs have to go to one of the toughest places to play in the league. It's going to be a tall order to pull off a win there, but the Chiefs have had to come from behind in three of their last four games against teams like Jacksonville, Carolina and New Orleans. They also have a huge matchup with the Broncos the following week, so maybe the Bucs might catch them peeking ahead.
Regardless, the Bucs will need another effort like this one from their defense, Martin to begin to return to form and Jameis to continue to be Good Jameis to stand a chance in this one.
10. DLT's In-Game Tweet of the Week
Update Note: A previous version of this article listed the Raiders as the Chief's next opponent after Tampa Bay. It is the Broncos.