1) Y'all know I stopped watching Buccaneers games in real-time because I came to the realization I was jinxing the team with bad plays, and when I stopped the Bucs seemed to play better. So even for this easy-ass matchup of the 11-4 Bucs against a weak 4-11 New York Jets squad, I didn't want to jinx a game that the Bucs should have won by 13 points or so.
1a) Instead, halfway through the day while I'm working on a podcast project, I see on Twitter a ton of alarming messages from both Bucs fans and NFL pundits, so I take a look and find out that Antonio Brown had a public meltdown to where he left the field after stripping off his jersey and pads. It was then I noticed the Bucs were down in the Third Quarter 24-10 and that we were down a few players due to injury.
So I kind of tuned out again and wondered how the hell THIS could get blamed on me.
1b) Still needed to find out what THE HELL HAPPENED for Brown to undergo his tirade, so I checked back in around 4 PM when I figured the disaster would be over... only to find the Bucs had pulled off a literal last-minute win over the Jets 28-24, which is a nice salve for the wounds we clearly suffered today but still begs a ton of serious questions.
Post-game reporting is that Brown was angry that the team wasn't letting him play more, as he had incentives to reach by this game (both yards and reception numbers, also TD count). The coaches apparently worried about his ankle, which was still not 100 percent, and that he wasn't in sync on the field (which could help explain a little bit the problems Bucs had scoring to that point). Thing is, Brown pulled this conniption at the worst possible time and place, doing it in such a manner the team had NO CHOICE but to cut him immediately.
For AB, this isn't going to help his career. He's burned bridges with three (wait, maybe four) teams now, with a series of off-field bad acts ranging from fake COVID IDs to sexual assault charges. The Bucs were willing to deal with him because Tom Brady insisted getting him to augment a good offense into a better one last season towards the Super Bowl run, and it worked. But not even Brady can save him now.
Brown is showing a lot of troubling signs of concussive damage, and if this is the last game he'll ever play in the NFL he needs to get medical and psychological help as soon as freaking possible.
2) Given how crazy today's game was, did ANYONE deserve a Player of the Game honors? Well, when the QB pulls off a miracle late-game winning drive, tosses over 410 yards of offense with 3 TDs, setting a couple of league records in the process, you give the game ball to Tom Freaking Brady.
2a) WR Mike Evans didn't get the 101 yards needed to get the 1,000 yard season, but he got closer to that number while catching a much-needed TD, while doing his thing as a teammate to try and calm AB until it got clear Antonio was done for good.
2b) GRONK. No TDs but 115 yards receiving and a number of them keeping drives alive.
2c) There has been a lot of talk about practice squader Cyril Grayson stepping up as a receiver to help the ailing WR corps, and today he delivered with 6 catches for 81 yards and the game-winning clincher in tough coverage. Losing AB may hurt but if Grayson keeps up like this the Bucs are solid on the passing game going into the postseason.
2d) Defensively it didn't look like the Bucs did well today - allowing the Jets to get the early lead and struggling all game long - but Anthony Nelson had a good day, garnering the only sack of the day and recovering a key fumble.
3) The good news? Not EVERYBODY got hurt, the Bucs equaled their best win record (12 wins) in team history (matching the 2002-03 Super Bowl team), and they showed the resilience to stay in close games to eke out the wins.
The bad news? Bucs are short a talented WR now, we lost Ronald Jones AND Le'Veon Bell to injury depleting the running back roster, suffered more dings to the secondary - I haven't heard which ones yet - and not exactly in the best of shape to seek a team record 13th regular season win.
3a) There's not a question if the Bucs could sit starters for the last game against the Panthers next week, it's a question if we've got enough backups left to even try that.
4) Statistics of the Game: Jets gained 150 rushing yards total against what was supposed to be the top run defense in the league. The loss of LBs like Shaq Barrett and JPP along with David out on IR seemed to affect our team's ability to tackle those guys.
4a) Red Zone performance: Bucs were able to go 2-for-3 in the Red Zone, but the Jets went 3-for-4 meaning they had more visits and more scoring chances. Our defense has to do a better job of keeping opposing offenses out of that Red Zone.
4b) PENALTIES WILL BE THE DEATH OF US edition: Bucs got officially flagged 4 times for 39 yards, amazingly the Jets did not garner a first down from any of them.
4c) Points off turnovers: Jets got 3 points off their sole turnover (INT), while the Bucs did not get a turnover until the final play of the game, so no points. The lack of turnovers by the Bucs defense along with the lack of sacks is a big reason why the Bucs could not get a serious chance at a lead until it was late.
5) Professional football lost a giant of the game this weekend when John Madden, one of the most consistently great head coaches of the 1970s, who turned into one of the best game booth commentators making him and Pat Summerall THE duo who signaled your game was Must-See football that Sunday, passed away. Nearly every sports watcher from the YouTube podcasts to the ESPN / Fox / CBS / NBC crews talked about his impact, and how he changed the game on and off the field.
5a) Also he put his name on the one computer video game that dominates the gaming industry. Next year's game cover is gonna be Coach Madden, it can't go any other way.
6) In other professional football news: Cincinnati Bengals just overwhelmed the Chiefs offensively today, with WR Jamarr Chase racking up 266 YARDS (!!!) and 3 TDs (!!!) and clinching the AFC North. I don't think the Steelers are going to the Super Bowl this year.
6b) DAMMIT BALTIMORE YOU HAD ONE JOB. Knocking off the Rams today would have helped the Bucs' seeding for the playoffs...
7) In professional college football news: DAMMIT CINCINNATI WILDCATS YOU HAD ONE JOB, STOP BAMA.
7a) There is something grotesque about an All-SEC Bowl Championship matchup. We already saw what happened when Georgia played Alabama. Who from the PAC-12 or Big-10 or ACC is going to tune in for this game? Not a lot. It's boring and unwelcome and I hope the ratings for the game sink through the floor so low that the ad people will scream that next year the matchup be between teams that fcking matter.
8) In professional hockey news: With all the COVID stuff hitting half the teams real bad, they should have suspended all games for two weeks while implementing a lockdown system to reduce players/coaches exposure to the Omicron variant.
8a) That said: I can't yell at the Lightning this week, they were playing scrubs for three straight games.
9) In professional binge-watching news: I never got around to watching Arcade on Netflix like I hoped this weekend but at least there was Boba Fett! I hope they find a way to get "Fett's Vette" playing as a song somewhere in the show...
10) Next up: It would be nice to see the Bucs win at home for the season finale, especially against the Panthers, but I'd rather hope that the Bucs not lose any more guys to injury. Please be nice to us, Football Gods...