Tampa Bay Buccaneers Get a Rare Chance to Earn Some National Respect

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer IOctober 24, 2012

"Listen up Free, I need a huge game out of you in Minnesota."
"Listen up Free, I need a huge game out of you in Minnesota."Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Not sure what you'd get if you asked enough people around the country about these Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Oh yeah, they're the guys who hired the college coach.

That's probably the extent of what most know about this franchise.

Tampa Bay's biggest moment thus far has been the "Kneel Gate" controversy that arose from the loss to the New York Giants when Greg Schiano, in the media capital of the world, had his defense tear into the Giants offensive line as Eli Manning went to "take a knee" to run out the clock.

Of course Eli got knocked on his keester and Tom Coughlin read Schiano the riot act at midfield.

After that, Schiano was crucified by some scribes as bush-league, praised by others for the old-school concept of fighting to the very end. John Paul Jones might have liked that, the father of the American Navy who, when asked by the British to surrender his ship, gave us the rallying cry: "I have not yet begun to fight!"

The Bucs have been fighting all season, they haven't been winning, but they've been fighting, battling to the bitter end, which has been bitter too often.

At 2-4, they cruise into Minnesota Thursday night and face the 5-2 Vikings.

Everyone watches these Thursday games. Great prep for the weekend, great reward for wading though Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Fans watch, NFL players watch, NFL coaches watch. Media members not covering the game watch.

This is your chance, coach Schiano. It's your moment, it's your time, it's your chance to earn some respect but more important, it's a chance to make up for the one that got away last Sunday.

This is a chance for the Buccaneers to actually beat SOMEONE, not a Carolina or a New Orleans. Carolina is a fat nobody and the Saints want to be somebody; they want to be what they've been, not what they were through their first five games. The Bucs did their best to set them on a better course during the second quarter last Sunday.

This is the Bucs chance to stop the best runner in the NFL, the guy named Adrian, last name Peterson. Yo Adrian!

This is a chance for Josh Freeman to continue his march up the quarterback ladder. He climbed a bunch of rungs the last three weeks, no reason to stop now. Keep climbing, Free.

This is a chance for Lavonte David to make his case, get himself in the mix for NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year. He leads the team with 49 tackles; the guy to his immediate right, Mason Foster has 48. They are a tackling machine when you head their way.

These Bucs have a chance to show they can win a big road game; they're nearly a touchdown underdog and nothing says respect like knocking off a team that is fighting for the NFC North division title and a playoff berth.

Nothing says respect like a win in the NFL on television, and you're the only two teams playing.

It's a big spotlight, a grand stage.

Time for the Bucs to get theirs, if they want it.

Time for the Bucs to get one of those highly cherished "Ws" against a good football team.

It's time because 3-4 sounds so much better than 2-5.