Tampa Bay moved to 3-1 tonight with a too-close-for-comfort victory over the depleted Colts.
The Bucs should be thinking…
This was the first time that we played in front of a national audience, and we survived with a win. That’s the most important thing. But we also went a long way toward showing off our new core on prime-time television. Josh Freeman was once again at his best in the fourth quarter, using both his arms and legs to pick up clutch first downs and keep the chains moving. Technically, it was yet another comeback victory for young Freeman, who found our top young receiver, Mike Williams, five times for a team-leading 66 yards. To boot, our most electric player was also at his best in crunch time — LeGarrette Blount had 62 yards and the game-winning touchdown in the final quarter. Our defensive line has been a work in progress, but the front seven abused Indy’s weak offensive line for much of the evening. It’s thrilling to see Gerald McCoy and Adrian Clayborn becoming stars. Michael Bennett’s taking care of business, too.
It’s also promising that we scored touchdowns on two of our three trips to the red zone, but we are still making the mistakes that young teams make. Fourteen penalties for 106 yards? Unacceptable. We’re lucky we were facing a team with a shorthanded offense and a forgiving defense, because it’s almost impossible to beat division rivals New Orleans and Atlanta while making errors like those.
The Colts should be thinking…
How sad is it that we’ve resorted to calling games like these “moral victories”? At least we covered the spread for the second straight week! Anthony Castonzo’s ankle injury had better not be serious, because Curtis Painter deserves to start for the remainder of the season. But if Painter takes as many hits as he did Monday night, he won’t make it through the year and we’ll be forced to use Old Man Collins yet again. Curtis only completely 13 of his 30 passes, but two went for touchdowns and he didn’t throw a pick in his first career start. Considering how good Tampa’s young defense is, that’s encouraging.
We don’t regret going play action on a big third-and-a-foot in the third quarter, because — let’s face it — our running game sucks. And the play fooled the Bucs. It’s easy to rip that play in hindsight, but it almost worked. And “almost” is a baby step in the right direction for us at this point. We’d like to apologize preemptively for teasing the fantasy football world with Pierre Garcon, who’ll likely go back to dropping 33 percent of the passes thrown his way next week. We’d also like to apologize to fans everywhere who had to see what happened to poor Eric Foster. We’ll miss Eric while he awaits his new foot.
On the bright side, we host the Chiefs next week.
(The format for this post was inspired by ESPN AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky)