Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20, New Orleans Saints 10 (Sept. 18)
Division game! This is the equivalent of a rival game in college, or SEC, PAC 12, Big 10 and ACC schools that play each other. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in the same conference as it could be an in-state rival. All I am saying is this game is important. Division games go a long way. You have four teams in your division that you play twice; now that’s eight games altogether, and now we have the math out of the way.
The Bucs can literally go eight wins and nine losses out of the 17 games played, and if the wins are all in your division then they ared the NFC south champs and going to the playoffs as the 1st, 2nd 3rd or 4th seed with a home playoff game. Crazy, right? This is how important these game are. I know, I know, every game is important but if there is a more important game – outside the playoffs and Super Bowl – it’s a division game.
It doesn’t matter, for the most part, where you are in the season, or whether you have a winning or losing record going into a division game. All bets are off! It’s bad blood. They know you, you know them. You play a little harder. The game is a little faster, the violence steps up a little. I know you are supposed to play hard every game and practice, blah blah blah. I get it.
It’s something about rival/division games that adds a little more pep to your step!
0-4. That’s Tom Brady’s record as a Buc going into the game against the Saints. So whether you see it as a rivalry or not, I will tell you it is! If you watched the game or even just saw the highlights, you saw the “bad blood” between the two teams, including the big fight that got two players ejected in the 4th quarter. Now that’s the story!
Or is it? I like the fire throughout the game: the hitting, the smack talk and being super-competitive! All of it’s great for football and I am here for it! What I am not here for is the fighting that ensued after the trashing of Brady and Lattimore, the Saints’ defensive back. It went too far. Leonard Fournette became involved, then Mike Evans had something to say. I understand that the players are taking up for each other. I also understand that anything after or before the play such as that is unacceptable. There is an adage that says “Let your pads do the talking” on defense, and “Let your play do your talking” on the offensive side of the ball. They are your star players, say one or any of them were suspended, like Mike Evans has been, or hurt … how would that help the team?
Let’s talk about stats. The Saints led damn near every category. Luckily Winston missed throwing passes to Bucs and threw three picks. That being said, at the end of the day the category that truly matters is the score. The Buc defense, like last week, came to play. I look forward to seeing them against a better … way better offense to see how they handle it.
This Sunday, the Bucs are going against Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, and his bunch of no-name wideouts. But he is a 4-time MVP, so I am looking forward to that.
In the meantime the Bucs offensive is having a fight, throwing for what, 52% completion rate. My math may be off. I believe the offensive was 29% on 3rd downs. They have to do better on offense. Hopefully it gets better soon. On a bright note, the offensive put enough points on the board to win the game. That is what matters, who scores more before the time runs out. The Buc offensive is doing that with a lot of help from the defense.
With all of the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball you would hope for a lot more points. Good thing the defense can score and put the offense on the short side of the field. From there even a few first downs should get them to at least put up three points. Nothing is wrong with that, the defense will be there to bail them out, until they don’t. There is going to be a time the defense is going to need the offense to put up a lot of points, but for now 19 points the first game and 20 points the next gets the Bucs to a perfect 2-0.
So why complain, right?
Former defensive end Stylez White played for the Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears and Orlando Predators. He was on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense from 2007 to 2010.