This past Sunday, the 6-4 Buccaneers faced the 9-1 Falcons. For the Bucs, it was the opportunity to prove themselves as legitimate playoff contenders after a string of wins against less impressive foes. However, and no need for a spoiler alert here, the Bucs lost 24-23. Going in, I’d figured that a close game would be something of a moral victory. That the progress made to nearly defeat the best in league just a year removed from a 4-12 season would be enough.
Turns out, it’s not true. The Bucs played like a team that was equal to the Falcons. And though they competed until the very last second against a top-tier team, and though last year’s Bucs would never have been in this position, they still lost. They are 6-5. They are hanging onto playoff hopes by an ever-narrower limb.
Turns out, moral victories are for losers.
But, hey, though the game was not a moral victory, there were a few little victories this game and this season. And in the spirit of the Thanksgiving weekend, I am going to take a moment to give thanks for these little victories:
I am thankful for Ronde Barber. For forcing the lone interception of the game against Matt Ryan and running it back to the Atlanta 31 yard line. (Sure, the Buc offense could only muster a field goal in the ensuing drive, but we’re being positive here.) For learning new tricks at Safety, even though he is an old dog (to the tune of 37 years). For being the player with the longest current record of active starts. And, finally, for not being Tiki.
I am thankful for trick plays. Toward the end of the second quarter, receiver Mike Williams threw a beautiful, 28-yard spiral to Vincent Jackson, landing the Bucs on Atlanta’s 3-yard-line. (Sure, the Bucs could only muster a field goal in the ensuing drive, but we’re being positive here. Oh wait…) The wide smiles on both receivers’ faces after the play showed that they were having a blast.
I am thankful for Doug Martin. This week, the Dougernaut only managed 50 yards on 21 carries. Oh yeah, and two touchdowns. Ugh, such a disappointment. But Buc love is unconditional, so I am thankful for Martin even in this bleak dry spell.
I am thankful for Tiquan Underwood’s flat-top. Enough said.
I am thankful for Greg Schiano’s accent. Have you watched one of Schiano’s press conferences on Buccaneers.com the day after a game? I would recommend it. Not that he says much–the days of the chatty Raheem conference are long gone–but he speaks with a slight Jersey accent that makes him sound like your tough but fair uncle. I find it comforting. What? Don’t judge me.
I am thankful for E.J. Biggers. I probably won’t have much opportunity to say this again, but Biggers had his first ever forced fumble this weekend. (Sure, the Bucs could only muster a field goal in the ensuing drive, but we’re being positive here. And also, ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!!!) And with the addition of rookies Leonard Johnson and Lequan Lewis to the cornerback corps, the Falcons didn’t seem to be targeting Biggers’ receiver every play. So, basically, Biggers had both a very good, and a very not bad game. And I thank him for that.
I am thankful for six really happy weekends this year. So far.
Here’s to six more!