Well, that was pathetic.
After two impressive wins in a row, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers headed north to play the struggling 1-6 New York Giants. It should’ve been a blowout. It should’ve been an easy win. It wasn’t either of those things. Instead, the 5-2 Bucs barely made it out of MetLife Stadium alive squeaking out a narrow 25-23 “victory“.
Ok, they won. Congratulations. You beat a 1-6 football team by two points. Pop the freaking champagne bottles! “A win is a win“? Only bad football teams say that. “Any given Sunday“? Only bad teams lose to other bad teams. Good teams don’t lose games they’re SUPPOSED to win. Good teams don’t play down to the level of their opponent. Good teams beat bad teams EVERY TIME. Great teams blow them out. Obviously the Bucs aren’t a bad team, but I’m not convinced that they’re a good team yet either.
When I started to write this, I was not happy. I was not in a good place mentally. I was disappointed in our team. It may be a little harsh, but it was what I was feeling after watching that game. So let’s get this over with, shall we?
I literally couldn’t think of a single good thing from this game. I guess I could say the “win” was GOOD, but was it a “win” really? Sure it counts in the “W” column. Sure the Bucs are now 6-2. Sure it was on the road. Sure the Giants might be a little better than their 1-7 record indicates. But come on man. Going into this game, Daniel Jones was 4-15 as an NFL starter. Three of his four wins came against Washington. The other win was his very first start as a rookie last year against the Bucs in Tampa. This was Monday Night Football. This was primetime. This was a revenge game for the Bucs. A chance to get some payback on a team that ripped all of our hearts out last season and stomped them into the turf of our own Raymond James Stadium. This was 1-6 vs 5-2. This was a gimme. Or at least it should’ve been.
Literally everything. Tom Brady looked off in the first half. The team’s energy looked low all game. The defense was atrocious for most of the game. The run defense was getting gashed. The pass defense was getting torched. The offense was not impressive. The run game wasn’t producing. The pass game lacked any big plays. The o-line gave up 2 sacks. The d-line only managed 3 sacks and didn’t get much pressure against a Giants o-line that was missing arguably their best player AND started three rookies. The Bucs secondary did come up with two interceptions, but other than those two stupid throws by Daniel Jones, they were playing soft. If it hadn’t been for a great hustle play by rookie safety Antoine Winfield Jr, the Bucs probably would’ve lost this game.
“A win is a win“, right? I suppose. They’re “so hard to come by in the NFL“, according to Tom Brady after this one. Which is funny to me coming from a guy that has done nothing but win in the NFL for the last 20 years. This one was definitely UGLY, but it got the job done. It got the Bucs to 6-2 for just the third time in franchise history and the first time since 2002, and you know what happened that year. It was just the fourth Monday Night Football game they’ve won since 2004 and the first since the 2016 season.
I suppose I’m being too harsh on our boys. They won and I should just be happy about that. My problem is this. How do you destroy the Packers and Raiders, then almost lose to the Giants? How does that happen? I was concerned that this could be a “trap game” like Florida vs Georgia Southern a few years ago. It would’ve been very easy for those guys to overlook this Giants team trying to peek at the Saints next week. Maybe that’s what happened. But I also thought that Tom would keep these guys focused on the task at hand and maybe he did snatch them back to reality at halftime. But I’m not looking at the “win“. I’m looking at the growth of this team. I’m looking at the change in culture of this team. Last year, they lose this game. Hell, they did lose this game. This year, they persevered and pulled out the win.
I think we’re going to look back at that game against Chicago in Week 5 as the turning point for this team. The loss that NEVER should’ve happened. Since that game, the Bucs have been playing much better football, with the exception of this game of course. With the schedule that they have coming up, they’ll need to continue playing better football. The Bucs next four opponents (Saints, Panthers, Rams, Chiefs) have a combined 20-11 record. It’s a rough stretch, but three of those four games are at home. If they can make it through those 4 games relatively healthy and unscathed, then their final four opponents (Vikings, Falcons, Lions, Falcons) have a combined 9-21 record.
Enough thinking ahead. This is about the Giants game and moving on from it. I hope that the Bucs learned something about themselves from this game. I hope they saw that they could play absolutely terrible AND still pull out a win. A team win, with all three phases contributing. They’ve now won three straight games for the second time this season. Unfortunately, if you follow the pattern, they’re due for a loss. After losing their first game against the Saints, they reeled off three wins in a row. Then they lost to the Bears before winning these last three games. Now, they have the Saints coming to town for a grudge match. Hopefully, they’ll break the pattern, keep the win streak alive and keep first place in the division. We shall see on Sunday!
Until then, as always…GO BUCS!!!