June 15, 2021

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Oh, What Could’ve Been!

5 min read

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are now 4-7 after committing armed robbery against the Falcons in Atlanta on Sunday. They haven’t “officially” been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet (like Atlanta now), but they’re close. In fact, one more loss will probably do it. That’s why this game against the Jaguars in Jacksonville on Sunday is so important. A win gets them to 5-7 and at least keeps them “in the hunt”. It also gets them a second straight win, which they haven’t done yet this year, and gives them a chance to get on a real win streak to close out the season with three of their final four games being at home. That all sounds great, right?

Well, that all got me thinking about what’s happened this season and what could’ve been. When you hear people saying that this team isn’t far off, it’s not an exaggeration. A play here and a play there, and we’re looking at a totally different season. Let’s take a look at it week by week and see what I’m talking about.

Week 1- Bucs vs 49ers

WHAT DID HAPPEN:

The Bucs offense got the ball back with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter and down by 7 points. Jameis Winston throws a pick-six to Niners cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, and the Bucs lose 31-17 to the best team in the NFC.

WHAT COULD’VE HAPPENED:

Bucs offense drives down with two minutes left and ties the game 24-24, then wins with a Matt Gay field goal in overtime.

Bucs 1-0

Week 2 – Bucs @ Carolina (W, 20-13)

Bucs 2-0

Week 3 – Bucs vs Giants

WHAT DID HAPPEN:

The Bucs jumped out to a 28-10 halftime lead against the 0-2 Giants, then gave up 22 second-half points while only scoring 3 points of their own. The Giants scored on a 7-yard run by quarterback Daniel Jones taking a 32-31 lead with about two minutes left, but the Bucs offense was able to march down and get well into field goal range, or so they thought. Rookie kicker Matt Gay missed a chip shot 34-yard kick for the win, and the Bucs lost.

WHAT COULD’VE HAPPENED:

This one’s easy. Matt Gay makes his kick and they win 34-32.

Bucs 3-0

Week 4 – Bucs @ Rams (W, 55-40)

Bucs 4-0

Week 5 – Bucs @ Saints (L, 31-24)

Bucs 4-1

Week 6 – Bucs vs Panthers (London)

WHAT DID HAPPEN:

Coming off of a loss in New Orleans and in the middle of one of the most ridiculous road stretches in NFL history, the Bucs headed to London for a “home game” against the Panthers. They committed 7 turnovers, including 5 interceptions by Jameis Winston and lost by 11 points.

WHAT COULD’VE HAPPENED:

The Bucs beat the Panthers in every way possible in this game, except in turnovers. If they could’ve eliminated just two or three of those plays, then it would’ve been a different outcome.

Bucs 5-1

Week 7 – Bye

Week 8 – Bucs @ Titans

WHAT DID HAPPEN:

Tennessee scored to take a 27-23 lead with ten minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Bucs offense got the ball back two more times after that and turned it over both times, one fumble and one interception with less than a minute left. They lost.

WHAT COULD’VE HAPPENED:

The Bucs don’t turn it over twice in the fourth quarter and score late to take the lead and win 30-27 on the road.

Bucs 6-1

Week 9 – Bucs @ Seahawks

WHAT DID HAPPEN:

The Bucs went into one of the most hostile venues in the NFL and almost pulled off a huge upset. They scored to tie it up 34-34 with about four minutes left. The game went into overtime. The Seahawks won the coin toss, and they marched down the field on an exhausted Bucs defense for the game-winning score.

WHAT COULD’VE HAPPENED:

The game goes into overtime. The Bucs win the coin toss and march down the field on an exhausted Seahawks defense for the game-winning score.

Bucs 7-1

Week 10 – Bucs vs Cardinals (W, 30-27)

Bucs 8-1

Week 11- Bucs vs Saints

WHAT DID HAPPEN:

Even though they lost this game 34-17, the Bucs had opportunities to win. Jameis Winston threw two interceptions in the final five minutes, including a pick-six and another in the endzone. That’s a 14-point swing right there.

WHAT COULD’VE HAPPENED:

If Jameis Winston doesn’t throw four picks in this game, then the Bucs probably win.

Bucs 9-1

Week 12 – Bucs @ Falcons (W, 35-22)

Bucs 10-1

I know what you’re thinking, “woulda, coulda, shoulda, right?” and 10-1 is probably a stretch. Even if just a few of these things happened, or didn’t happen, they would still be looking at being 7-4 or 8-3 or even 9-2 right now instead of 4-7. But it doesn’t do any good to look back on those losses and wish the outcome had been different. A loss is a loss. And the Bucs are what their record says they are. However, what it does tell us is that this team has been close all year. Had they not shot themselves in the foot so many times, this could’ve been a totally different season. We wouldn’t be talking about how bad the secondary has been or whether the Bucs will keep Winston around next year or getting rid of Jason Licht and/or Bruce Arians. We’d be talking about clinching the NFC South and the playoffs.

Last week in Atlanta, was a perfect example of what this team is capable of when they play complementary football. It showed what can happen when they don’t shoot themselves in the foot. When they play like they did last week, the only team that can beat them is the Buccaneers. It may be too late to change what COULD’VE been in all those other games, but they still have a chance to finish this season strong. A win in Jacksonville WOULD be the next step, and they SHOULD beat the Jaguars as long as they don’t beat themselves first.

Until then, as always, GO BUCS!!!

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