Finally. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win. For a team that has had a fourth quarter lead in four of their six losses, there was some panic and increased blood pressure when the Buccaneers went up 23-20 a third of the way through the final quarter in this one.
It was well warranted. The Cardinals took the lead and the Bucs had a crucial turnover on the following drive.
Somehow, they still found a way. Through some sort of witchcraft or magic or force powers, the Buccaneers found a way to come back. Thanks in large part to last week’s punching bag Jamel Dean.
Let’s pick six.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) This Is What The Buccaneers Needed. It was ugly. It was sloppy. The secondary went from burnt toast to saviors in the blink of an eye. This is the kind of win that brings a team together. The Bucs have lost so many of these close calls, they needed to come out on top in this one - if nothing else - to prove that they could. Now, I’m not saying this is going to lead to a string of wins to put them into the playoff hunt, but it’s a giant leap in the right direction. These are the games the Bucs always find a way to lose. Sunday, they found a way to win.
2.) Redemption, Thy Name Is Dean. Jamel Dean was the collective punching bag of Bucs fans across the nation last week. This week? The hero. He had four passes defensed and an interception. The interception came following a Ronald Jones fumble as the Cardinals marched into scoring range to seal the game. One of the pass breakups came on the final play of the game to seal the win for Tampa Bay. After one of the most brutal performances by the corner last week, he was arguably the player of the game in this one.
3.) O.J. Howard Getting Back On Track? Howard didn’t have a catch in the second half, but became an instrumental piece in the Bucs’ final drive of the first half. Of the seven plays, 75 yards the Bucs went it was Howard who had three receptions for 41 yards and the touchdown. He finished with four receptions for 47 yards and the score, but it was great to see him involved again. He did receive another end zone target where his arm was pulled back (no call) and the Bucs eventually scored on a Peyton Barber touchdown. Not a breakout performance by any means, but his involvement in his first game back shows promise for the remainder of the year.
4.) Ronald Jones Is A Beast. Not a bust. A beast. It’s amazing what happens with a promising young player when he gets solid coaching and opportunity. Not only is he the best rusher on the team, he’s the best pass catching back. He proved that Sunday with eight receptions - one more than his entire 2018 season total - and 77 yards. Add to that his eleven carries for 29 yards and a touchdown and RoJo continues to assert himself as the team’s top back. He did have a critical fumble, but that can be fixed. Jones gets better each and every week, looking like the back the Bucs thought they drafted last year.
5.) Put The Challenge Flag Away, Bruce. I don’t understand why Bruce Arians continues to challenge pass interference. We know it’s not being overturned. There have only been nine pass interference challenges overturned all season. All Arians is doing is throwing away timeouts. Fast forward to later in the game, where the Bucs were out of challenges, and Arians tried to challenge that Kyler Murray was sacked (he was) but refs ruled he had thrown the ball before his knee touched (he didn’t.) Arians throws the flag, costing the Bucs another timeout, as is the penalty for trying to challenge when you have no more. Didn’t he hire a former official specifically for this reason? To advise him as to whether or not he should challenge a play? Well, that guy is terrible if this is the advice he’s giving the Bucs’ head coach. With that many coaches on staff, one guy needs to strictly be the “challenge guy.” Hell, I’ll do it from home. Just give me a headset to pipe in to BA and we’ll be good.
6.) Bucs Have A Big Question To Answer This Off-Season. And that question is, who returns? Their two best pass rushers are Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett. Barrett, having gotten another sack Sunday giving him 11.5 on the season, is the younger guy with many more years of quarterback hunting ahead of him. However, the leadership JPP provides is invaluable. He was getting after guys on the sideline for not doing enough, even when they were making plays. He demands greatness of his colleagues and settles for nothing less. Can the Bucs keep both? Doubtful. JPP may actually end up being the more affordable of the two, but Barrett may be one of the most productive pass rushers in the league for years to come.
Six Number To Consider
86 - Games for Mike Evans to reach 7,000 career receiving yards - fewest in NFL history
8 - Passes defensed by Jamel Dean in the last two weeks - four more than any Bucs corner all of 2018
11.5 - Sacks by Shaq Barrett, most by any Bucs player through nine games in team history
11 - Field goals of 40+ yards this season by Matt Gay, tied for the most by any rookie in team history
76 - Yards needed for Mike Evans to break 1,000 for the sixth consecutive season
4 - Consecutive games for Jameis Winston with 300+ yards passing
Six Best Tweets
Per usual, they appear in no particular order
Rookie CB Jamel Dean said he went to his coach’s office all week to watch extra film because he wanted to prepare better after last week’s game in Seattle. It paid off.— Scott Smith (@ScottSBucs) November 10, 2019
Today is RoJo's day and it's honestly pretty gracious that he's letting us share it with him.— Bailey Adams (@BaileyJAdams22) November 10, 2019
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are undefeated in 2019 when TE O.J. Howard scores a touchdown.— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) November 10, 2019
Arians said he benched Vernon Hargreaves because he didn't hustle enough on a play. Went to Murphy-Bunting and Dean outside and Stewart in the slot until Stewart left game with a knee injury.— Greg Auman (@gregauman) November 10, 2019
Lavonte David was getting this fumble no matter what pic.twitter.com/IAEqVdOPjH— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 10, 2019
Six Reasons The Bucs Can Beat The Saints
1.) Vernon Hargreaves won’t be covering Michael Thomas
2.) Bucs and Saints have split the season series the last four years. Saints won game one...
3.) Sean Payton is too busy planning a wedding to focus on his football team
4.) Saints haven’t lost back-to-back games since 2017. They’re due.
5.) Bruce Arians, as a head coach, has never lost more than eight games in a season, so the Bucs are about to string together some wins
6.) Because no one outside of the Bucs fanbase believes that they can
Six Super Bowl Bets
As always, this is compiled before the completion of Sunday night football
1.) New England Patriots - Still the most dangerous team out there
2.) Seattle Seahawks - Forget the record, I still think Seattle is far more dangerous than the Niners
3.) Green Bay Packers - They keep finding ways to get it done - and Davante Adams is back
4.) Baltimore Ravens - Good grief, Lamar Jackson is a treasure
5.) New Orleans Saints - Step back against Atlanta, Tampa up next
23.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Back in the thick if they beat New Orleans