The Buccaneers certainly weren’t instilling confidence in their fans early on Sunday, nor were the San Francisco 49ers as Bucs fans were scoreboard watching. All those worries were put to bed as the Tampa Bay offense exploded in the second half and a Hall Of Fame Buc saw his new team help his old one in the Bucs’ road to the number two seed in the NFC.
Let’s Pick Six for the final time following a regular season game.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) That’s how you finish. It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish. For the second week in a row, the Bucs started off on a slow foot just to find a way to finish with a win. Now, last week it took the final drive to get the job done whereas this time around, a two minute drill at the end of the first half is what sparked the Bucs’ victory. After allowing an opening drive touchdown to the Panthers, the Buccaneers couldn’t get anything going offensively. That was, until, the defense had a fourth down stand at their own one. Tom Brady then found Mike Evans for a 37-yard gain on 3rd and 10 before later finding Breshad Perriman for one of the prettiest sideline catches you’ll ever see. All that culminated in a one yard touchdown catch by Le’Veon Bell, giving the Bucs a 10-7 lead at halftime. After that, the floodgates opened. The Bucs would go on to win 41-17 and finish the season 13-4, tied for the best record in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers. However, they weren’t the only ones in line for a 13-4 season.
2.) I get by with a little help from my friends. If that song wasn’t blasting on Jason Licht’s radio during his drive home from Raymond James, he’s doing it wrong. Hall of Famer and legendary Buccaneer John Lynch saw his 49ers beat the Los Angeles Rams in overtime after Jimmy Garoppolo orchestrated a game tying drive with under 1:30 left and no timeouts in regulation. With that drive, the game goes to overtime where the 49ers took a 27-24 lead before Tampa native Matthew Stafford threw a game sealing interception. The interception simultaneously sent the 49ers to the playoffs and the Buccaneers to the second seed. Once again, Lynch comes through with a big hit for the Bucs.
3.) Speaking of the Hall of Fame. Is there any doubt anymore that Mike Evans will one day wear a gold jacket? If there is, there shouldn’t be. Evans extended his NFL record to eight consecutive seasons to start a career with 1,000 yards and it is now the third longest streak of 1,000 yard seasons in NFL history, trailing Jerry Rice (11) and Tim Brown (9). Evans is tied with Cris Carter, Torry Holt, and Marvin Harrison. Of those players, you have Rice, Harrison, and Carter as Hall of Famers with Holt’s induction not far away. Evans’ streak is something unlike any we’ve seen in NFL history and he’s closing in on arguably the greatest receiver of all time for the all time record. He’s a Hall of Famer. Period.
4.) Reunited and it feels so good. For the first time since week one this season - all the way back in September - the Buccaneers are positioned to have their entire starting defense on the field together next week against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card round. Though the Bucs defense didn’t look great to start the day yesterday, they clamped down and finished strong. Having their full array of defensive playmakers and talent will be a breath of fresh air and something that opposing offenses haven’t been able to plan for all season long. The biggest impacts will come from Shaquil Barrett and Lavonte David, but a rested and hopefully somewhat healthier Jason Pierre-Paul could be the biggest X-Factor of the postseason. Nothing against Joe Tryon-Shoyinka - who has played great over the last month - but JPP brings something to this defense that is nearly impossible to replicate. Having him and Barrett on the edges against a running threat like Jalen Hurts will be a huge help for this defense looking to replicate their shut-down, grave digger style of the last postseason.
5.) Next man up. Chris Godwin is not coming back and neither is “he who shall not be named” to catch passes from Tom Brady in the playoffs. Last week, it was Cyril Grayson that stepped up to be a huge contributor. This week it was Breshad Perriman and Tyler Johnson. The Bucs have a group of players that rally around each other and they don’t care whose number gets called, they all know they have to make the most of the opportunities they have. Grayson’s injury, which appeared to be a hamstring, certainly hurts. Now, hopefully he can return next week, but Johnson and Perriman did exactly what they needed to do to help this team and that’s exactly what you’ll continue to see in the playoffs. Of course Gronk and Evans will get theirs, Brate has become a go to guy for Brady, Leonard Fournette will return, and Le’Veon Bell is still getting better each week. And who knows - we may just see the birth of “Playoff Howard.”
6.) Coaching carousel. Both Byron Leftwich and Todd Bowles interviewed for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coaching job and both are coaches of interest for the recently vacated Denver Broncos job. Bowles said he would do whatever he could to help prepare Leftwich for interviews and would be thrilled if Byron got a job. Bruce Arians said both are deserving of head coaching opportunities. All this means that Bucs fans need to pay extra close attention to what head coaching jobs open up in the coming days as Tampa might end up losing one - or both - of their coordinators.
Six Numbers To Consider (Or, Six Records)
14 - Touchdowns by Mike Evans this season, a franchise single-season record
5,316 - Passing yards by Brady, most in a season in Bucs’ history and a career high for Brady
102.1 - Brady’s passer rating, second in team history behind...Brady (102.2 - 2020)
43 - Touchdown passes by Brady, most in franchise history and most in the NFL in 2021
32 - 100-yard receiving games by Gronk, most by a tight end in NFL history
511 - Points scored by the Bucs this season, most in team history (492 in 2020)
Six Best Tweets
One thing about Brady is he is gonna get his guys the bag.— Carmen Vitali (@CarmieV) January 9, 2022
Rob Gronkowski: "Hitting incentives is cool and the Buccaneers are a great organization, putting me in a position to hit those incentives."— Carmen Vitali (@CarmieV) January 10, 2022
Interception!! 49ers win!! Hey Antoine - what seed are the Bucs? pic.twitter.com/qCY9PxErnT— Bucs Nation (@Bucs_Nation) January 10, 2022
Six Super Bowl Bets
1.) Green Bay Packers - Homefield just means more at Lambeau
2.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Next man up and most men back
3.) Tennessee Titans - The King makes his return
4.) Kansas City Chiefs - Still not sure how we got here....
5.) Dallas Cowboys - Hot team on both sides of the ball
6.) Los Angeles Rams - Can Stafford finally win a playoff game?...