NFL Week 17: Buccaneers Buckle, Raiders Roll in 31-24 Victory

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NFL Week 17: Buccaneers Buckle, Raiders Roll in 31-24 Victory

I've said it before and I'll say it again: teams with nothing to lose are often times more dangerous than those who do.

Michael Bush rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns, and JaMarcus Russell added two more through the air as the Oakland Raiders defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a game the Bucs had to win to gain a playoff spot.

The Bucs defense, which started the season off 9-3, has struggled of late, and this game was no exception. Holding a 24-14 lead in the fourth quarter, Tampa gave up 17 unanswered points to the Raiders, who were playing for nothing more than pride.

In losing the game, Tampa Bay removed themselves from playoff contention: with a 9-7 record, they lose the spot to Dallas on the tie-breaker.

(WRITER'S CORRECTION: Philadelphia gets the spot with a better win-loss-tie percentage than Tampa AND Dallas. And the fact that they embrrased "America's Team" by crushing them 44-6.)

Too bad for the Bucs, who went into this game a 14 point favorite. Apparently none of the players are suffering from the effects of the economic downturn, as their play late in the game showed they really weren't interested in those extra paychecks the playoffs would bring.

For a team suffering under the ownership of Al Davis, the Raiders played surprisingly well, holding the Bucs to three touchdowns and a field goal while scoring big late in each half, with 14 in the second period and a game-winning 17 in the fourth.

With a field goal late in the fourth and a touchback on the ensuing kickoff, Oakland forced the Bucs to drive the length of the field just to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Nothing doing; Garcia went 1-4 and took a sack with 9 seconds to go, and Tampa Bay got a ticket home for the year.

With Chicago losing it's game as well, the pressure is off for Dallas now; the Boys are in with the tie breaker.

(SEE WRITER'S CORRECTION ABOVE)

Must-win games are called that for a reason; losing them is not an option. Maybe Tampa just didn't understand how critical this game actually was.

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