Now we’re talking.
Bucs 14 – Seahawks 5
The score is something of a misnomer. Yes, it’s true that the Bucs offense scored all the points they would end up needing in the first quarter, and then spent the rest of the game making me bite my fingernails down to the second knuckle. After two very impressive scoring drives to open the game, the Tampa O popped the clutch for some odd reason, including giving up a safety in the early going, and it fell to the defense to make sure things didn’t get out of hand.
And that’s exactly what they did.
Taking advantage of a struggling Seahawks offensive line and looking at many points during the game like the elite Tampa defenses of days gone by, the Bucs front four made it their mission in life to harass and confound Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson all afternoon. That, along with a suffocating Bucs secondary resulted in six sacks, two interceptions and a fumble, and a lot of “Take that back to your momma” style tackles and catch breakups that limited the Seahawks to only 3 points all day.
As it happened, all of the points were scored in the first half, leaving the rest of the game to serve as a showcase for both team’s defensive units. The Seahawks kept it close, thwarting every attempt by Winston and the Bucs offense to extend their lead. That included picking off a would-be touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter. Faced with needing two scores and time running out, Wilson and the Seahawks mounted what looked like their first real scoring threat of the game, but Tampa sealed the deal when safety Bradley McDougald picked off Wilson two yards shy of the end zone. McDougald returned the interception to the Tampa 34, giving the Bucs plenty of room to take a knee and run out the rest of the clock.
“Game over, man! Game over!”
Coupled with last week’s win against the Chiefs, today’s win at home against the playoff contender Seahawks was the first of what still are many steps on the road to any realistic Tampa post-season plans. The win, their third in a row, improves the Bucs to 6-5 and maintains their one-game trailing of NFC South Division leader Atlanta, who also won today. Likewise, the New Orleans Saints slapped the Rams around pretty good, and they continue to breathe down Tampa’s neck at 5-6. Even Carolina, sitting at 4-7 following their loss to Oakland, are still in the mix with five games to go in the regular season.
Next up? The Bucs travel to sunny San Diego to take on the 5-6 Chargers. We’re not quite at the point where every win is a must-have. However, given the knotted up division race, along with the Falcons, Saints, and Panthers all playing beatable opponents next week, and three of Tampa’s remaining five games coming against division rivals………yeah. Okay, we’ll call it a “must-have.”
Bucs life, yo!