So, that was fun, wasn’t it? In a game where the Buccaneers could do literally nothing offensively, they end up being swept by the New Orleans Saints in the regular season for the third straight year.
In the process, they lost key players that could create problems down the stretch as they look to get back on track and try to reclaim the second seed in the NFC.
Let’s pick six (albeit, an abbreviated one this week);
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) Adding injury to insult. Losing to the Saints is bad enough, but the Buccaneers made up for lost time in the injury category. Throughout the game - a game in which they were already without Antoine Winfield Jr., Richard Sherman, and Jamel Dean due to injury, Breshad Perriman was on the reserve/covid list, and Antonio Brown and Mike Edwards were finishing their three game suspension - the Buccaneers lost both receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans as well as Leonard Fournette all to injury. If that wasn’t enough, Patrick O’Connor got hurt on a punt and Lavonte David left the end of the game with a foot injury. So things are certainly looking worse than they are better.
2.) No excuses. MVP’s don’t get shut out, especially at home. Tom Brady has done more with less throughout his career in New England, so there is no excuse for the performance we saw Sunday night. There are reasons the team struggled, but they had no business goosing in a game where they would have clinched the division and kept pace with the Green Bay Packers for the top seed in the NFC. Now, the Bucs are looking at trying to clinch next week against the Panthers while the Packers would have to lose two of their final three in order for the Bucs to get the top seed and bye for the playoffs - and two of those three are against the Lions and Vikings.
3.) But wait...there’s more! Now the Buccaneers aren’t even the two seed. Nope, because there is a three-way tie between Tampa Bay, the Arizona Cardinals, and the Dallas Cowboys, the head-to-head win over Dallas is irrelevant. Instead, it goes to conference record where the Cowboys hold the edge thanks to the Bucs dropping their fourth conference game of the year. So not only is the top seed all but out of reach, but the Bucs need help if they’re going to avoid two different places they would potentially have to play in the postseason. The cherry on top? With their win Sunday, the Saints are now in the playoff picture as the seven seed.
4.) Nothing made sense. The Bucs started with ten consecutive passes, they went deep on third and fourth-and-short, they opted for Ke’Shawn Vaughn on third-and-1 as well as their next to last drive that ended in a Brady interception rather than riding with Ronald Jones who was playing well in Fournette’s absence. Let’s sprinkle in some uncharacteristic drops and miscommunications by Rob Gronkowski and what you have is a certified disaster on national television for the second straight year against the Saints.
5.) At least one side showed up. There can’t be enough said about how well the defense played. They kept the Bucs in the game to the very end by getting after Taysom Hill, limiting Alvin Kamara, and forcing numerous three-and-outs. The one thing they didn’t do was force a turnover, though Andrew Adams had one in his hands that he flat out dropped. You couldn’t have asked for more from the defensive side of the ball but the offense squandered away every opportunity that they were given. Say what you will about the Saints’ offense as far as the quarterback or the weapons, if you hold an NFL team to nine points there is no reason you should lose. I get that there are outliers, like the Bills falling to the Jags or the Titans losing to the Jets - but those teams weren’t the number one offense in the NFL and they weren’t averaging nearly 40 points per game at home. There’s only one side of the ball that deserves to have the finger pointed in their direction.
6.) Reinforcements are coming and the sky is still intact. Antonio Brown and Mike Edwards return this week. You would hope that Evans or Godwin - or both - would be back in the mix. If Fournette misses time, Jones showed he can still be a reliable member of the run game on this team. The Panthers are a good defense, but this is going to be one pissed off football team in Tampa that is ready to unleash on someone. The Panthers just so happen to be in the way. On top of that, you hope that the defense is back together with a healthy Winfield and Dean. If Sherman is able to play, that’s just icing on the cake. This loss is going to stick with some people for quite a while, but - again - this is not the end of the season and it’s not the end of the world as so many people have decided it is. There were people on social media Sunday night saying that the season was over and it was time to regroup for 2022 or that the entire coaching staff should be fired. R-E-L-A-X. It was a bad game - a horrendous game - but this team is not a “one-and-done” level roster. This team is not going to quit because people on Twitter think they stink after losing to the Saints. And they certainly aren’t going to fire all of the coaches. Take a deep breath and reevaluate how important one out of seventeen games truly is. Yeah, it was the stinking Saints again but that game is not going to define how the rest of the season goes. If they lose to the Jets, you can freak out.
Six Numbers To Consider
1 - Team to ever lead the NFL in scoring and get shut out at home in the same season - the 2021 Buccaneers
4 - Sacks of Tom Brady on third down
6 - Receptions by Godwin before his injury, one shy of tying the Bucs’ record for receptions in a three game span
3 - Times in Tom Brady’s career he’s failed to score any points in a game, this being the first time at home
101 - Yards needed by Mike Evans to reach 1,000 for the eighth consecutive season
0 - Regular season wins against the Saints in the last three years - and in the two seasons where the Buccaneers went on to win the Super Bowl
Six Best Tweets
I can’t decide if this game is exciting or boring. It’s like that horror movie where you’re on the edge of your seat the whole time but nothing really happens…— Daisey Charlotte (@DaiseyWTSP) December 20, 2021
No Mike Evans, No Chris Godwin. No Antonio Brown. No Leonard Fournette. No protection. Tom Brady getting a taste of what life has been like for Ryan Tannehill of late.— Terry McCormick (@terrymc13) December 20, 2021
Keep in mind Tom Brady has led the Bucs to eight straight wins at Raymond James and the team scored at least 30 points in each of those games. That ties the longest streak ever by a QB at one venue––that is, a win and 30 points. It was done five times previously— trey wingo (@wingoz) December 20, 2021
If I recall it is not a prerequisite to go undefeated to win the SB.— Nathaniel Jacobson (@njacobson) December 20, 2021
As awful as this has been, regular season wins are all the Saints have over the Bucs at this point. Let them celebrate this like it's their Super Bowl.— Bailey Adams (@BaileyJAdams22) December 20, 2021
If it’s against the Saints and in primetime, it’s science that we will crap the bed.— Whitney Holtzman (@WHoltzman) December 20, 2021
Six Super Bowl Bets
1.) Green Bay Packers - A missed, wide open Hollywood Brown on a two-point conversion away from a 4-way tie atop the NFC
2.) Kansas City Chiefs - Yep, they’re back and they’re on fire. Bad news, AFC
3.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Last not was not indicative of what this team really is. Deep down, you know that.
4.) Dallas Cowboys - That is one tough defense. They might actually win a playoff game
5.) Tennessee Titans - Tough loss to Pittsburgh, but The King will be back for the playoffs - with fresh legs. *shivers*
6.) Indianapolis Colts - Showed that the Patriots might have been products of their schedule more than anything else. Indy is getting hot at the right time - and they likely have the new MVP front-runner