Buccaneers 38, Seahawks 15

The 2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the first team since the NFL merger to start ten different rookies at some point in the season and finish with a winning record. This game was a must-win against a team that wound up having nothing to play for. Josh Freeman made his case for the best young quarterback in all of football, besting his season high of 2 TD passes by 3.

THE GOOD

The offense
After a shaky first drive that went only 3 yards, the Bucs only punted two more times and didn’t turn the ball over. This was due – in large part – to Josh Freeman. He kept plays alive, took advantage of a tired Seahawk defense and had his best game of his career – all this without Arrelious Benn or Earnest Graham for much of the day. The top aerial playmakers Williams and Winslow had two touchdowns apiece. Through 15 games, they have 10 and 5 TDs respectively. 2009’s top-scoring pass-catchers – Winslow and Bryant – had 5 and 4. 2008’s top-scoring pass-catchers¬† – Bryant and Hilliard – had 7 and 4. Before Josh Johnson was brought in (and went 2/2), Freeman completed passes to 10 different receivers.

The Seahawks defense has been smacked around all year, but credit must go to the Bucs for abusing them in so many ways. Josh Freeman finished with 21 of 26, 237 yards, 5 TDs and zero turnovers. LeGarrette Blount churned up 18 carries for 164 yards and had this highlight run. He also got his first catch since the 7th game of the season.


THE BAD


Nothing

I don’t know how else to put it. They dominated defensively (3/15 third down conversions for Seattle; only 10 first downs, the seventh time Tampa has held an opponent to fewer than 20; Geno Hayes had the first multi-sack game of his career with 2.0) and Michael Spurlock had a 79-yard kick return. The Bucs’ average play went for 7.8 vs. Seattle’s 3.3.

LOOKING AHEAD: This is where it gets interesting.  Here are their playoff scenarios:

Spot #5 – Wildcard

Case 1
Buccaneers beat the Saints, and
Falcons beat the Saints, and
Bears beat the Packers, and
Redskins beat the Giants

Spot #6 – Wildcard

Case 1
Buccaneers beat the Saints, and
Falcons beat the Saints, and
Bears beat the Packers

Case 2
Buccaneers beat the Saints, and
Falcons beat the Saints, and
Redskins beat the Giants

Case 3
Buccaneers beat the Saints, and
Bears beat the Packers, and
Redskins beat the Giants

Of all these, I most like Case 2 because it doesn’t involve the Bears beating Green Bay. Whatever the case, the race to 10 is almost complete. Time to make a statement in New Orleans, irrespective of playoff implications.


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