There is nothing quite like playoff time in the NFL. The atmosphere of each Sunday is just different. The weeks leading up to the postseason’s inaugural Wildcard round are stacked full of anticipation and nerves. With an ever-watchful eye over conference seeding and the careful nature of scoreboard watching in full effect, having a team with meaningful games in December and January is a privileged pressure reserved for a lucky few.
After their heart-racing week 17 win over the Carolina Panthers the Buccaneers have fastened their seatbelts for another ride in the postseason. This is now the team’s third consecutive trip to the tournament after more than a decade without admission. 2022 hasn’t been the prettiest or most rewarding season for Central Florida’s football squad, but their NFC South championship means they are just three wins away from being back at the pinnacle of the sports world, running out of the tunnel on Super Bowl Sunday.
The Playoffs are a completely new season and signify a much-needed clean slate for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers along with their lead man in charge, head coach Todd Bowles. Bowles has been mired in as much ridicule as any coach this season. The first-year Bucs coach has started his second NFL go-around without much glamor, having nearly managed to take the greatest quarterback in NFL history, with ample talent around him, and captain that ship to quasi-sinking depths, all while driving many Tampa fans up a tree with in-game decision making that at times has seemed more decision-less.
Sports media members, myself included, have not been easy on Bowles throughout his first campaign with Tampa Bay. The former stud defensive strategist has displayed many of the concerning qualities and traits that, impart, caused him to strike out in New York during his first head coaching at bat. Bowles cannot go without credit though, let’s present him with his flowers. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, albeit in the league’s worst division, are in the playoffs and hosting a home game come postseason time. Not only has the team been successful in multiple crunch-time pressure packed moments this season, most of which has been attributed to the play of the quarterback, but when the Buccaneers needed to step up the team was able to rise and shine. Now, Tampa is riding a late season win streak down the stretch and has played some of its best football as of late.
Todd Bowles has been taking jabs and arrows for months now, but the postseason has arrived, and the Buccaneers have punched themselves a ticket. Detractors can lean into the idea that the Bucs are here in spite of their coach but getting to this point has been a total team effort and everyone who has been a part of it deserves a share of the credit. Bowles still has much to prove in the long term, but he has already accomplished something that many who have stood in his shoes failed to ever achieve. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are division champions.
Here is the Buccaneers’ team reaction in the locker room after securing themselves a spot in the postseason. If Todd Bowles showed emotion like this more often, it’s possible he would endear himself to more of the Buccaneers’ faithful.
Bucs Postgame Victory Speech Following Win Over Panthers to Clinch Division - YouTube