Hey Hey Tampa Bay, the Bucs Know How to Shine
Hey Hey Tampa Bay, the Bucs Know How to Shine
In the Bucs' retro weekend, the surreal experience in Raymond James Stadium where the Bucs and their fans went back in the time machine, wearing the creamsicle uniforms, playing '70s music and some how, some way rallying from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit behind rookie QB Josh Freeman to pull off a stunning 38-28 upset of the Green Bay Packers.
For fans, seeing Bucco Bruce back was a treat, but they'd be hard pressed to find another orange clad crew that put together the complete team effort as they did on Sunday.
While there were plenty of ugly 0-7 moments for the Buccaneers to their credit—even when they fell behind by 11 points—the team refused to quit.
There was some question about heart in some articles this week, and the one thing I've said all along is you have to admire how head coach Raheem Morris has his team playing hard, despite their record.
Raheem may not have done a lot right, but he still has his football team behind him. At 1-7, that says something.
After giving up a fourth-quarter touchdown on 3rd-and-long to Aaron Rodgers, who escaped the pocket and scrambled into the end zone for a seemingly killer touchdown—it would have been easy for the guys in creamsicle to say, "Oh well, we gave it a good try."
Instead, one of the smallest Buccaneers, Clifton Smith, lifted his team on his miniature shoulders and rumbled 83 yards down the field, setting up rookie Josh Freeman at point blank range.
Freeman would cash it in and then lead the Bucs to the winning score as well in a very non-rookie like performance.
I'm not going to try and get too high or too low on Freeman. When you start a young kid like this, he's bound to have good games and bad games. Consistency will be the biggest challenge. Ask Mark Sanchez.
Still, you could see the skill set. Freeman is a huge man-child, standing tall in the pocket, progressing through reads like a vet, scrambling, buying team, keeping his eyes down the field and getting the ball out.
Facing 4th-and-goal—game on the line—he didn't blink, finding Sammie Stroughter in the back of the end zone, putting the ball only where his receiver could find it.
His completion percentage was rookie-like, but Freeman was also victimized by several drops. He threw a pick and had another pick called back on a defensive penalty—so he's still learning there's things you can and can't do in the NFL.
With that said, if you're a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you feel a lot better about Josh Freeman today than you did yesterday.
One game in, he's already better than JaMarcus Russell and maybe even Matthew Stafford—the 2009 No. 1 overall draft pick.
Freeman needed help to win his first start and he got it. His defense picked off Aaron Rodgers three times (Rogers came into the game with a league low two picks on the year), including Tanard Jackson's game sealing 35-yard interception return for a touchdown.
The Bucs blocked a punt for a touchdown and had Smith's spectacular return.
Offense, defense, special teams, every facet had a hand in the victory. Even Michael Clayton made a couple big catches.
Winning masks a lot of misery. Raheem Morris enjoyed the Gatorade shower, but when he puts on the film, he may still not be satisfied with what he sees on defense.
Yes, there were some huge plays, sacks, and turnovers forced against the best team in the NFL at protecting the football.
There was also 168 yards rushing by a weak Packers running attack. There were scores of 32 and 74 yards against the pass defense. There was Aaron Rodgers on 3rd-and-long repeatedly avoiding the rush, getting to the marker and extending drives. Tampa Bay's defense gave up 404 yards of total offense and 28 points.
Offense had it's share of fail, too. There was the lack of a running game by the Bucs offense (81 yards rushing), although in the offensive line's defense the Packers were run blitzing and playing eight in the box about every play.
There were the drops by Cadillac, Earnest Graham, and others. There was Freeman overthrowing a wide open Michael Clayton twice on deep routes and missing Maurice Stovall in the back of the end zone.
Even the special teams weren't immune, missing a field goal, but what else is new there?
So, it's not as if the Bucs suddenly rose up and became the Patriots.
None of that matters today. I can tell you I haven't felt that excited in Raymond James Stadium in a long...long time.
In one magical day, honoring the great Lee Roy Selmon at halftime as he became the first Bucs to enter the Ring of Honor, seeing the team wear the old Orange for the first time since Pewter Power became their identity, seeing Freeman play and excel for the first time.
Perhaps most importantly, for the first time since Nov. 30, 2008, the Bucs and their fans tasted the sweet nectar of victory.
Mmmm...yes. I remember that taste. Now we want some more.