Wait. What? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Bucs 45 – Eagles 17
Somebody put something in the Gatorade, amirite?
To say Bucs rookie quarterback Jameis Winston had a good day would be something of an understatement. If you’ve watched him since the beginning of the season, you’ve seen him continue to steadily if sometimes slowly improve his game. He’s obviously taking the hard lessons he’s learned to heart, and you see him get just a little better week to week. Even when the Bucs were getting beat, there more often than not has been something positive about Winston’s performance, even if it’s learning how to endure defeat and figuring out how to correct mistakes.
But let’s talk about the good stuff: 19 completions on 29 attempts for 246 yards, including five–count ’em–five touchdown passes on the day. That ties an NFL rookie QB record, by the way. Oh, and no interceptions. Again. Nice.
Meanwhile, Tampa running back Doug Martin lit up the Eagles defense for 235 rushing yards. That’s insane. Elsewhere, the Bucs defense hounded Philly QB Mark Sanchez all day, picking him off three times, including one that was returned for a touchdown.
The win gives the Bucs two in a row. Granted, it was a victory against the Eagles, who are also struggling this season, but this is the sort of game–a team win grounded by several notable performances by key players–that can give an ailing team an awesome shot in the arm, and maybe give them some badly needed mojo to help them finish out the year on a high note. Besides, have you seen the NFC standings? The Bucs are still really in the hunt, if you want to get picky with the math and stuff.
Tampa improve to 5-5 on the year, and have pulled themselves out of the NFC South Division basement, slipping past New Orleans who sits at 4-6 and nursing a two-game losing streak while on their bye week. Atlanta got beat today, dropping their third game in a row and are now just one game ahead of the Bucs at 6-4. Carolina, meanwhile, refuses to lose, notching their tenth victory today and remaining undefeated.
Next up for the Bucs? Travelling to Indianapolis to take on the equally sputtering Colts. They’re at 5-5, too, and on paper this is a very winnable game for Tampa, and then suddenly, a Wild Card berth doesn’t seem quite so outlandish.
That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.