The aftermath: Week 17 – Tampa Bay/Carolina
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30, Carolina Panthers 24 (Jan. 1)
Playoffs?! Yes, we’re finally talking playoffs!
Congrats to the Bucs, who escaped a setback at home that would have surely made it extremely difficult to get in. It was a great team effort. I know a thing or two about the playoffs. I actually only know one thing, but that’s all it takes! The year we made it to the playoffs we rolled into them on a six game losing streak. Fortunately for us, we did enough in the beginning to make sure we could win the division, and to make it into the playoffs. We started 9-3, and it was looking good. A Monday night with the Carolina Panthers where they managed to do anything they wanted to us that night. It was a long night, but we kept grinding to secure a spot and the playoffs.
Now the Bucs could make the playoffs and win the NFC division south while having a losing winning record. So to have this team battle and not give up and still stay relevant in week 17 is huge. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had nothing really going their way, except that Tom Brady was playing.
When we played, it was Jeff Garcia playing, and Jeff was good enough – but no Tom Brady. The good news is once you’re in the dance, the record goes out the door.
Now, I know the Bucs won the game and made the playoffs, but the first half was a disaster. If it wasn’t for some miscues by the Panthers, this game would have been out of control. Funny, isn’t it? When you win you glance over the fact that you could have, maybe even should have, lost. There was a 15-play drive that ended in a blocked field goal. Brady again had to throw 40 plus times, while the offense ran the ball 22 times and had just 67 yards rushing.
For much of the year these stats would have been a loss. But some big plays by the future hall of famer Mike Evans kept this game close. The defense gave up 400 yards and gave up 24 points. This article could be dramatically different, but it isn’t. In the end, the defense made plays when they had to and, as I said, the offense had a ton of big plays courtesy of Brady and Mike Evans.
Credit where credit is due – I saw flashes of greatness, but they need to be more consistent. The defense can’t allow that many points. I also know that the game should have been managed better by Todd Bowles and the coaching staff. Something else you may not have noticed: There was a play in the game where Offensive Coordinator Brian Leftwich, on a 4th and 1, sent players in to run a play. Tom Brady decided to call them off the field and ran a QB sneak instead. No big deal, right? They made the first down that led to a touchdown. It does make me wonder how many times Brady has decided to call his own play (or his own number) instead of the play the coaching staff chose. I celebrate it now as we all do, but I am still not sure how long they can coexist. I do know I would like to see the partnership with Leftwich and Brady last deep into the playoffs, but I doubt it.
I know the game next week is meaningless in a sense, as the Bucs are now NFC Division champs, but I can’t see the Bucs resting their starter because the way the offense has been this year they need all the game-time experience together – and yes, that also means Tom Brady plays, because the week after next is the playoffs.
Congrats to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They still need the work!
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.