The Big Not-So Easy: Buccaneers Shock the Playoff-Bound Saints
Raheem Morris may have just given the Glazers a moment for a pause. Amid reports that his owners have reached out to a former Super Bowl winning coach to talk about his job, Morris' Tampa Bay Buccaneers sent shockwaves around the NFL, going to New Orleans and upsetting the high flying Saints in overtime, 20-17.
For the second straight week, it would take second half domination to get the job done and the Bucs certainly dominated, shutting out New Orleans for the final two quarters of the game after spotting the Saints a 17-0 first half edge.
Bucs rookie QB Josh Freeman once again tossed interceptions, including one to Darren Shaper, allowing him to set an NFL record for returned interception yardage in a season.
Freeman is now up to a troubling 16 interceptions, but the youngster, bolstered by a powerful Buccaneers running game, went 21-for-31 for 271 yards and was in the zone during the second half.
Cadillac Williams gave the Bucs their first 100-yard rushing performance of the season, pounding out 124 yards and a touchdown.
Tampa Bay's defense looked clueless in the first half of the game, giving up 17 points on New Orleans' first three drives.
Down 17-0, it looked like another train wreck and confirmation that the Buccaneers' ownership group was absolutely justified in looking into Bill Cowher's availability.
Halftime adjustments seemed to change everything. The high powered Saints couldn't sustain drives and were held to a pedestrian 373 yards of total offense. Drew Brees was his outstandingly accurate self, completing 32-of-37 passes, but only for 258 yards and one touchdown. That's right Bucs fans, Josh Freeman threw for more yards than Drew Brees on this day.
The Buccaneers offense piled up 439 yards, but it would be Michael "Run Michael Run" Spurlock who made the play of the game.
Picked off the street on Monday, Spurlock—who in a previous stint in Tampa Bay was the first player in Bucs history to return a kickoff return for a touchdown—returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown.
It was almost all for naught as the Saints had one of their few productive drives of the second half, moving the ball to Tampa Bay 16 yard line and setting up a chip shot field goal for Garrett Hartley. Unfortunately for the Saints, the young kicker botched the kick, hitting it wide to the left.
Tampa Bay won the toss in overtime and ran the ball down the throats of the alleged best team in the NFC, driving 11 plays, 48 yards to set up Connor Barth's game-winning field goal.
For the Buccaneers, it was a landmark victory that just may signal the turnaround for the franchise.
The question now is how far along is the process with Cowher and is this victory enough to give the Glazers sufficient confidence in the direction of the program to allow Raheem Morris to continue, despite the 3-12 record?
Jumping on the report of NFL.com's Jason La Canfora, ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen both confirmed there was contact by the Bucs with Cowher and it seems very likely that Bill Cowher is preparing to return to the sideline.
Per the report, he is laying the groundwork, making calls to piece together a coaching staff, and acting like a man who will be patrolling the sidelines once again next season.
If the Buccaneers can defeat Atlanta, Raheem Morris may be making the decision to terminate his employment very difficult for the Glazers.
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