That was not a win for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Friday night.
The scoreboard told us it was, 30-28, but it wasn't, not at all. What happened with 1:05 left in the first half of that preseason battle with the Patriots raised a dark cloud over this offense that will no doubt spell serious problems when football begins for real on Sept. 9.
What happened was unthinkable. This team has two rocks, both on the offensive line. They are Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph. Two rocks, two All-Pro guards. The Buccaneers woke up this morning minus one rock.
Joseph went down at the 1:05 mark. On the play before, he had made a key block to spring Doug Martin for a beauty of a run, then Mr. Murphy of Murphy's Law found his way to the sideline. Joseph was rolled on by a New England defender and went down.
It was an ugly sequence. Left tackle Donald Penn lost leverage on a rushing defender. He pushed him, and he fell and landed on the back of Joseph's legs.
Joseph's right knee took the brunt of it and he lay motionless, holding that knee, his right leg curled up, his left leg extended.
His teammates knew immediately as they frantically waved to the Buccaneer sideline. This one was bad.
Shortly, Joseph was carted off the field. That was 313 pounds of hope for a decent season heading to the locker room. That was one of the two rocks taken away.
The extent of Joseph's injury was uncertain. Stephen Holder of the Tampa Bay Times felt it was a season-ender. Late Saturday, the Bucs confirmed on their Twitter account that Joseph will be lost for the season and will have surgery to repair a torn patella tendon.
Dave Wirth, sports director at Channel 10, the CBS affiliate, reported that it could be a broken right kneecap, but that was unconfirmed by the team.
Joseph tweeted a sad but hopeful note on Twitter:
@DavinJoseph 75: Thanks for all of the support, positive vibes and prayers, overall, it could be worse. God has a plan. I'll be back ASAP.
Ted Larsen replaced Joseph and managed to get two straight penalties called on him. Now its Larsen and Trueblood on the right side. Maverick and Goose, a crash-and-burn waiting to happen.
It was a sad preview of opening day.
The right side of the Bucs offensive line is now a point of contention, a glaring weakness. At least Josh Freeman will see what's about to hit him. It's not the blind side.
There's no way to put a positive spin on this.
This one hurt this football team big time.
No, that wasn't a win Friday night.
It was a loss. A huge loss.
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