Wow. How long Buccaneers fans have waited, hoped, been heartbroken. The last time the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in the playoffs, they lost to a New York Giants team that would go on to beat the unstoppable and undefeated New England Patriots led by the very quarterback that now has the Bucs in the postseason.
And now, if the Bucs win their final game, they may see the Giants in the Wild Card round should the Giants be able to overtake Washington in the final two weeks.
Funny how things come full circle, huh?
I don’t think any Bucs fans could have asked for a better Christmas present than to see Tampa Bay go out and completely dominate a game for sixty minutes with a playoff berth on the line - and that’s exactly what they got. From the opening drive to the final whistle, this was all Buccaneers for sixty full minutes.
Let’s Pick Six.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) Domination. This is what we’ve been asking for. Yes, it came against a poor team who lost their coaching staff to COVID this week and lost their starting quarterback in the first quarter - but does anyone truly believe the coaches and Matthew Stafford would have made that big of a difference in this game? Stafford wasn’t going to be out there trying to stop the Bucs’ offense. The coaches weren’t going to be able to stop the Bucs’ relentless pressure. This was a complete game from Tampa Bay when they needed it most. The opponent gets tougher next week, but as I said following the win against Atlanta, if the Bucs can put together complete games now and in to the postseason, they will be a difficult team to stop. Time to see them continue on this trajectory and make that come to fruition. There isn’t a single team in the playoffs Bucs fans should be worried about facing if Tampa Bay can put together full games like they did on Saturday.
2.) Mike Evans, Ladies and Gentlemen. Wow. What a day. It was very much in question that Evans’ streak of 1,000 yard seasons was in jeopardy of ending at six and tying him with his idol Randy Moss. Then, over the last two games, Evans has 291 receiving yards and is just forty yards away from a record setting seventh consecutive 1,000 yard season to begin a career. Look at the quarterbacks he’s done it with - Mike Glennon, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jameis Winston, and now Tom Brady. No matter who is under center or how bad the team around him has been, Evans has been the constant on offense and dominating along the way. No one in the history of this great game has done what Evans is on the cusp of doing - not Moss, not Jerry Rice, not Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Michael Irvin - nobody. Mike Evans better get the first forty yards of offense next week...
3.) Succop Panic Not Necessary. Ryan Succop had a terrible game. In a dome, on turf, Succop missed two extra points and a field goal marking his worst outing as a Buccaneer. People began having flashbacks of Roberto Aguayo, Matt Gay, and Chandler Catanzaro. Everyone take a deep breath and relax. No, Succop wasn’t good on Saturday but there’s no need for panic. Succop has missed kicks in six games this season including against the Lions. Of the previous five where he missed he never missed a kick the following week. In fact, Succop had a stretch where he was perfect (13/13 on extra points, 11/11 on field goals) for five straight games. If Succop was going to have a game where he struggled, this was the one to do it. A massive, comfortable lead and not in the postseason. This was the first time he missed multiple kicks in a game in 2020. He’ll get it figured out and the next time he sets foot on the field, I’m confident he’ll knock it through the uprights.
4.) Defensive Statement. Only one Pro Bowler, huh? Yeah, the Buccaneers’ defense was not pleased and it showed. Lavonte David and Devin White were wrecking balls as usual, combining for fifteen tackles, two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, a sack, and a forced fumble. Meanwhile, the Bucs as a whole got to Stafford/Chase Daniel/David Blough a total of eleven times while also creating two turnovers. There was constant pressure, sure tackling, and not a single inch given to the offense. This defense came out to make a statement that they were overlooked, disrespected, and on a mission. It doesn’t matter that they played the Lions - this defense would have been ready for anyone yesterday. Now they have to continue to put the football world on notice that they’re for real.
5.) Record Setting Day. The amount of records the Bucs set on Saturday is staggering. We already discussed Mike Evans’ ability to break one next week, but he broke one against Detroit as well. Evans broke his own single season touchdown record (12) on his second touchdown reception of the game, giving him thirteen on the season. This came after Tom Brady broke Winston’s single season passing touchdown record (33) in the first quarter as he is now up to 36 on the year with a game to go. The Bucs also set franchise records for most points in a first half (34), passing yards in the first half (348), total yards in the first half (410), total yards in a game (588), and yardage differential (+402). It was a statement about who they can be as a team - and especially as an offense - when so many have been questioning whether or not they can succeed in the playoffs with the slow starts and the struggles against some of the NFL’s better teams.
6.) Just Enjoy This. Look, the Bucs have had their ups and downs this season, but this year is something to be happy and excited about. It has been over a decade since the Bucs made the postseason - and trust me, I know the goal is never to be “one and done” in the playoffs - but the Bucs have earned an opportunity to compete for the chance to be champions. How many of you would have given anything to see that happen at any point since 2007? I was thinking back on it and this is the first double-digit winning season the Bucs have had in my youngest son’s lifetime. My older son was a year old when it happened so he certainly doesn’t remember. It’s been heartbreak after heartbreak, bad coach after bad coach, overpaid free agent after overpaid free agent, and draft bust after draft bust. Regardless of how this all ends, your team finally gave themselves a chance to win it all. Your team will finally be playing football in January. That, my friends, is something to be happy about.
Six Numbers To Consider
668 - Brady’s passing yards in his last four quarters of football
7 - Players in NFL history with 8,000+ receiving yards and 60+ receiving touchdowns - which now includes Mike Evans (Larry Fitzgerald, Marvin Harrison, Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson, Sterling Sharpe, Jerry Rice)
10 - Multi-touchdown games for Mike Evans since 2014, tied for fourth most in the league over that span
158.3 - Brady’s quarterback rating, marking the third time in Brady’s career he’s done so
5 - Seed the Bucs will be with a win against the Falcons next week, meaning they face the winner of the NFC East
48 - Fewest yards Evans has against the Falcons in his career (2015) - he needs 40 for his record breaking seventh 1,000 yard season
Six Best Tweets
There have been 4 times in NFL history a QB was in his 40s at the start of the season and went on to throw for 4,000 passing yards. Quarterbacks and their age that season listed below.— Football Perspective (@fbgchase) December 26, 2020
Tom Brady, 2020 (43)
Tom Brady, 2019 (42)
Tom Brady, 2018 (41)
Tom Brady, 2017 (40)
Game almost over so Bucs it’s been a long time coming. Congrats to all my former teammates, staff and the fans that have been through the tough times. I know it’s just the post season but when you’ve seen what I’ve seen that’s big deal!! Congrats fellas!! Keep it going!! #GoBucs— Gerald McCoy (@Geraldini93) December 26, 2020
First ever game for @TomBrady: 1-3, 6 yds, mop up duty in 34-9 Thanksgiving Day loss in Pontiac Silverdome vs. @Lions— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) December 26, 2020
Latest game: 22-27, 348 yds, 4TD in one half vs. @Lions at Ford Field, first player in NFL history to play 20 years with one team and make playoffs with another.
This will be a great trivia question in a few years:— The PewterCast (@ThePewterCast) December 26, 2020
In 2020, Mike Evans who wore number 13 broke his own record and set a new franchise record for touchdown receptions at 13. Who threw the pass?
Nobody will answer Blaine Gabbert
Six Fun Facts
Here are some fun facts about the world we lived in the last time the Buccaneers made the playoffs;
Top Song: “No One” by Alicia Keys
Number One Movie: “National Treasure: Book of Secrets”
Gas Prices: $3.05 per gallon
“Must Have” Christmas Gift: iPod Touch
Final Installment: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” was published
Must See T.V.: “American Idol” was named the top rated show of the year (Nielsen rating)
Six Super Bowl Bets
Not much will have changed given that this is coming out before the bulk of games are played, but we’ll do it up anyway
1.) Kansas City Chiefs - Rinse. Repeat.
3.) Buffalo Bills - Put some respect on their name
4.) New Orleans Saints - Freefall ended as Super Kamario goes off on Christmas
5.) Tennessee Titans - Big test against Packers, but Derrick Henry has them in contention again
6.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - More games like yesterday and they may make a run
Six Final Words
Finally - Some Meaningful Games After Christmas