A win is a win, yo. It’s definitely a win when it’s against a division rival.
Bucs 23 – Falcons 19
Anybody who’s still holding on to doubts about rookie quarterback Jameis Winston had at least some reason to maybe think about letting go of those, yesterday. While it might not have been his most impressive game, stats-wise, it still showed that the kid has grit and doesn’t give up. I’ll take a little of that, every day of the week.
Yes, the win came against the beleaguered Atlanta Falcons, who are in the grips of an exploding death spiral covered in glitter and sadness, as they’ve now lost five straight and six of their last seven after beginning the season with a 5-0 tear. Meanwhile, the Bucs are lingering at the edges of the playoff picture, still in the race for a wild card berth because let’s face it: most of the NFC is a snooze fest, this year.
Shaking off an early interception and a fumble by running back Doug Martin, Winston knuckled down and kept the Tampa offense moving, throwing a touchdown pass and running for another score. Martin also contributed a touchdown, but even with all of that, the Bucs still found themselves down by three points as the fourth quarter marched on. The key play in the final come-from-behind drive came with less than three minutes in the game.
Tampa had gotten themselves deep into a hole and were facing 3rd down and 19 yards to go. After the play on that down started to fall apart, Winston scampered for 20 yards and the first down. That’s actually understating things a bit, as the Falcons defense had stopped him almost dead in his tracks after he’d picked up ten yards, but he somehow managed to break free and steal the rest of the needed yardage to keep the offense moving. The drive was capped by a six-yard TD pass to Mike Evans to put the Bucs on top for good.
The Bucs climbed back to .500 on the year, improving their record to 6-6 and moving into second place in the NFC South. As expected, the Carolina Panthers clinched the division yesterday after edging out the New Orleans Saints and advancing to 12-0. The Bucs remain in the hunt for a playoff berth with four games to go. They’ll likely have to win out to have their best chance, and even then a bit of help from the likes of Atlanta, Seattle, and/or a couple of other teams who are hovering nearby.
Next up for the Bucs? They’re at home again, this time hosting division rival New Orleans, who will be looking to stop a 4-game slide. This will be a prime opportunity for Tampa to solidify its hold on potential post-season play. Here’s hoping they can carry some of yesterday’s positives into that game.
It ain’t over, yet.