1) Yes. I rage-quit this b-tch.
1a) I tried. I wanted to watch this Monday nighter. And it opened up pretty well that first offensive drive: methodical play calling even with the obvious runs-up-the-middle calls. Everything was working well. Up until the Buccaneers got into the Red Zone. Then all of a sudden we couldn't run it through the Saints D, and we couldn't throw it into the end zone. Frustrating to watch it go to a field goal.
1b) The Bucs defense opened up well, getting after Dalton with a huge early sack. And then the rest of the First Quarter turned into a sludge, a mudpit, nothing right happening. When the Bucs gave up an easy drive to the Saints, including TWO plays where the Bucs secondary left a receiver WIDE F-CKING OPEN going to a 7-3 lead for New Orleans, that was when I rage-quit.
1c) Waking up this morning to the news of the Tampa Bay Bucs last-minute 17-16 win reduced some of the rage I felt all night long - I woke up to an upset stomach, Gods help me - but my frustrations with this team has not diminished. SO MANY THINGS ARE GOING WRONG FOR A TEAM THAT OUGHT TO BE PLAYING RIGHT.
1d) The Bucs offense is STILL not getting over 20 points a game (save for the Chiefs game, and that was because we were already blown out). We saw it last night with Tom Brady missing clearly open targets - there was a play where Mike Evans was UNCOVERED! - because either the play had him focused on the wrong target or because his accuracy is off.
1e) The Bucs defense is supposedly geared towards generating many sacks or many turnovers, and yet we barely see success in either category. Thankfully the Bucs defense recovered to keep the Saints out of the end zone for the rest of the night, and did a better job stopping a good Saints run attack, but where are the turnovers? With turnovers, our offense gets better field position and more touchdowns.
1f) A win may be a win, and there is something to be said about last-minute comebacks - Brady set a league record apparently last night doing so - but GODDAMMIT the Bucs should be blowing out losing teams like New Orleans. We should have won like 27-16 last night. We should have busted up Pittsburgh and Carolina and in hindsight Green Bay should have been stomped on as well. I want my blowouts, I want a comfortable 2-to-3 TD lead going into the Fourth Quarter...
2) Player of the Game: In a defensive struggle like the Monday nighter, you look to the playmakers there and by God Lavonte David played his heart out. Led the team with 10 tackles, two tackles-for-loss, and the early big sack that set the tone for the game. Truly the locker room and on-field leader of this squad.
2a) Carl Nassib came back as a mid-season hire to help fill the injury gaps on our D-line, and he stepped up tonight with some decent run stops as well as a game-clinching sack late in the Fourth that forced the Saints to punt and with enough time for Brady to pull off the last-minute comeback.
2b) Leonard Fournette came back from injury to run it, not that often with 10 carries for 49 yards, but made some good runs early for first downs as well as contributing as a checkdown receiving option when needed.
2c) After the bad week he had, Mike Evans returned as a solid WR making all four catches thrown his way especially for a much-needed 22-yarder. It's just that one blown play where Brady didn't see him WIDE OPEN... oh man, it could have changed everything for this game and for the rest of this season if he had gotten that throw.
2d) TE Cade Otton didn't have much of a game until late in the Fourth when Brady FINALLY found a TE in the end zone - the way Red Zone scoring is SUPPOSED to work! - and threw to him for a TD to make it 16-10. It would have been nice if the Bucs could do that more often when inside the bloody 10 yard line!
2e) RB Rachaad White didn't have much of a running game last night but he showed up when needed the most - a literal last-second touchdown catch on a screen.
3) I said this before at the Bye Week: Every game from that moment on was a Must-Win if the Bucs want to do ANYTHING in the postseason. Well, we lost the Browns game right after, and so now EVERY GAME IS A GODDAMN MUST-MUST-NO I MEAN IT MUST-WIN game. Beating the New Orleans Saints does several things: It ends the domination the Saints had on us during regular seasons since 2018 and gives us our first sweep of them since 2007; It gives the Bucs a 6-6 lead on the NFC South division with improved tiebreaker numbers; It keeps the Bucs from falling apart into a losing streak spiral.
But there's nothing clinched yet. Bucs still have two serious games to play - San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals - and no easy matchups at all against Carolina (remember, they crushed us earlier), Arizona, or Atlanta. EVERY GAME IS STILL A GODDAMN MUST-MUST-NO I MEAN IT MUST-WIN game.
4) Statistics of the Game: Turnovers. The Bucs actually committed them - one INT and one fumble - while the Saints stayed from coughing it up... and yet the Bucs eked out the win.
4a) Third Down Efficiency: Bucs went 8-for-15 while Saints went 5-for-14. Tampa's defense stepped up when it mattered, keeping the Saints from maintaining more drives and reaching more scoring opportunities.
4b) Also, Total First Downs: Bucs almost doubled that count 25 to 14 over Saints. Bucs were slightly moving the ball better: IF ONLY IT MEANT MORE TOUCHDOWNS GODDAMMIT.
4c) Red Zone offense: Surprising number in that the Bucs were 2-for-3 while the Saints went NIL-for-3. New Orleans only TD was on a big pass play well outside the Red Zone. This is where the Bucs won the game. IF ONLY WE MADE MORE VISITS, GODDAMMIT.
4d) PENALTIES WILL BE THE DEATH OF US: Another thing that hurt New Orleans more. Hit with six flags but with major yards lost (84 total). Bucs only flagged four times for 39.
5a) Something NOBODY expected: New York Giants and Washington Whatevers TYING up a must-win game that both needed to stay in contention for the NFC North and Wild Card consideration. You expect the BAD teams to tie up (Hi, Indy and Houston!) but not the good ones. This one is gonna bite BOTH teams in the ass by season's end.
5b) Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos refusing to play a good game, with Baltimore ekeing out a 10-9 disaster. For all the disappointment this year's Bucs have been, at least they're not a disaster area like the Broncos. Russell Wilson: Worst QB pick-up ever.
5c) San Francisco blowing up a good Miami Dolphins team with the expected defensive finesse they're known for... but in the process losing Jimmy G to season-ending injury and leaving them with a Mr. Irrelevant (last guy picked) QB as the expected starter. It's a good thing for the Niners that the Panthers just cut Baker Mayfield for them...
(Looks at Mayfield's numbers) Right...?
5d) Cincinnati Bengals battling hard against Kansas City Chiefs for a game of the week that highlights how these two teams are gonna be the monsters of the AFC for the 2020s. Just as soon as Cincy drafts more starting O-Line to protect Burrow.
5f) The four best teams arguably are the Eagles, Chiefs, Bills, and Vikings. Bengals and Cowboys need to keep winning to play for division leads. Texans and Bears are already mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but the league might as well throw in the Rams as well.
6) In professional college football news: GODDAMMIT SOUTHERN CAL YOU HAD ONE JOB! Now the BCS Playoff system had to invite back in another Big-10 or SEC team that didn't deserve it.
I think the Trojans were emotionally wrecked from the passing of Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie. How could the band get it up to play "Tusk" one more time??? /cries
6a) TCU DAMMIT YOU... Okay, they lost in an overtime game which translates into a honorable loss, but they should have been up on Kansas State to begin with. They're only ranked third in the BCS standings to prevent the clear number two (Michigan) play an immediate rematch of the likely number three (Ohio St).
6b) SUCK IT NICK SABAN, ALABAMA LOST TWICE. THERE'S NO ROOM FOR YOU IN THE BCS. SIDDOWN.
6c) So it's gonna be Georgia vs. Ohio St (huge) and Michigan vs. TCU (likely Michigan win). It's not the best college postseason, but it'll do.
6d) The plan to expand to 12 teams in the BCS will end the debate over which one-loss teams deserve to be in, but will increase the arguments over which 2-loss SEC and Big-10 teams deserve to be in. /headdesk
6e) The South Florida Bulls did not get the glamour hire of Deion Sanders - who went to the bigger Power-Five program with Colorado - but they hired a solid offensive coordinator in (Generic White Guy Who Keeps Bouncing Around) from Tennessee who will arguably improve the... something... with some times to Florida recruiting that will... um... make it likely to get guys who may have gone to maybe UM or UCF. Maybe.
I'm burned out of the coaching carousel at USF. I just want a guy who can get the Bulls back up to 9-10 wins a season. Even if it's in a weaker
Big East American conference.
If the university had built that f-cking on-campus stadium back in the 2000s, we wouldn't be in this recruiting and coaching mess.
6f) Speaking of, GOOD LUCK CENTRAL FLORIDA with the long travel times to Big-12 matchups, and to the likely 5-7 seasons you're about to endure. The money won't be worth it. You and Houston and Cincy could have stayed and kept the AAC competitive, but nooooo.
7) In professional hockey news: WILL YOU KEEP WINNING GAMES, TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING? WE NEED THE LOVE.
7a) Steven Stamkos reaching 1000 points (goals and assists) in his career puts him in elite historic talent in the NHL, and did it all for this one team. He has surpassed IMHO Martin St. Louis in the Tampa sports Mt. Rushmore honors (alongside Selmon and Brooks). Which leads to...
8) In professional baseball news: FRED MCGRIFF IS A HALL OF FAMER AT LAST. Not the most dominant player of his era but one of the most reliable, a consistent home-run hitter with enough All-Star and postseason appearances to justify making a hard-to-enter Hall. He may have only been with the (Devil) Rays for three years, but he's a home-grown talent from Tampa, and it's huge to have a local kid make it to the sport's hallowed halls and history books.
Tampa Bay Rays need to retire his jersey number.
8a) St. Petersburg made another downtown redevelopment pitch this weekend, with four more proposals including rebuilt domed stadiums for the Rays to play in. Look, the domes may be huge improvements over the crypt that is the Trop, but the location of downtown St. Pete STILL makes it too much of a hassle for the bigger population centers of the metro - North Pinellas and Northwest Tampa - to get to. I'm sorry. We need to build the new Rays stadium in the West Tampa - Ybor area.
9) In professional Saturnalia news: NOBODY MAKES ANY SATURNALIA GREETING CARDS. DAMN YOU, HALLMARK.
10) Next up: Tampa Bay travels to the West Coast - never a fun trip - to play a suddenly vulnerable 49ers team. San Francisco's defense will be insanely tough, but can the Bucs force the Niners offense to play bad enough to lose?
COMMENT BELOW WITH A "IO SATURNALIA" YOU HEATHENS.