THE BUCS WIN -- AGAIN!!!!Unable to score an offensive touchdown for the entire game, the Bucs were entirely reliant on their defense for the big points on the board -- in fact, they were entirely reliant on Ronde Barber, who had two fabulous interceptions followed by run backs for the only two Tampa Bay touchdowns this Sunday.
A single field goal put Tampa Bay six points ahead of Philadelphia with less than three minutes on the clock, and all Tampa Bay's defense had to do was stand up and keep Donovan McNabb & Crew out of the end zone one last time. But as the announcer put it a few minutes later, "They're just too good". McNabb to Westbrook in the flat, after being set back 15 yards on a penalty, and Westbrook broke tackles and evaded tacklers for a long rambling 50 yard run into the end zone -- or, rather, to the one yard line, where he deliberately slowed to a walk simply to taunt the team he'd obviously just managed to deal a crushing defeat to.
The extra point put the Eagles up by 1 with 30 seconds left on the clock. Given how generally crappy Tampa's offense had played until then, the Philadelphia fans must have felt like they'd just gotten a phone call from the future with next week's winning Lotto numbers. Tampa picked up a single first down and then, with 4 seconds left, had to try to kick a 61 yard field goal. If you don't know what the word 'futility' means, look it up in the dictionary and you'll see syn: making a 61 yard field goad. I was ready to leave in disgust. We were watching the game in a sports bar and due to the background noise really couldn't hear anything. SuperFiancee was sitting next to me, more tense than I was, because she's a relative novice to football and didn't realize just how foolish it was to hang any hope on a 61 yard field goal attempt --
and I'm staring at the screen, and saying to her "Did he make it? Did he MAKE it?"
And he did. Matt Bryant is my hero. And I believe I speak for every football fan in the Tampa Bay area when I say that, too.
Making it even better, Carolina has already lost today and Atlanta just missed a tie breaking field goal, sending their game into OT. If the Steelers can pull it out, this will have been a very good Sunday for the Bucs.
It's hard to keep hoping for much from the Bucs, though, as they're very erratic. The offense did very little this game; the defense got both of Tampa's touchdowns for them early, but fell down when it counted late. Bruce Gradkowski specifically looked very unstable; several times he had receivers open deep down the field, and threw the football nowhere near them. He wasn't intercepted, which is always nice, and Cadillac Williams had a pretty good game, which is nicer. Still, we need Gradkowski to crank up his performance levels several notches, and we need our defense to be able to finish a game out.
ADDENDUM: Atlanta won, fuck them eternally. On a field goal, too. Must be something in the NFC South's water.