MINNEAPOLIS — It was looking like another devastating loss for the Bucs, until the second half monster that is Josh Freeman came alive and mauled the Vikings defense and pulled out a comeback win on the road.
The first half was an embarrassment and saw the Bucs score no points what-so-ever. The defense was active but they were having a tough time stopping the driving force of Adrian Peterson and (somehow) Donovan McNabb. Peterson wasn’t the main killer for the Bucs who saw third down after third down converted and drive after drive extended.
Toby Gerhart, the Stanford Heisman finalist a year removed, banged his way through the Bucs defense on third downs that killed Buccaneer momentum gathered defensively.
It was 17-0 at halftime and it looked as though another disappointment was in store.
But then Tampa got funky. They scored on their first drive of the second half, then recovered a surprise onside kick on the immediate kickoff. It ended with a Josh Freeman interception in the endzone, but the Bucs had already received a super charge of adrenaline from the onside kick that powered the whole team to Josh Freeman’s eighth comeback win of his career.
The Vikings scored 17 points on the Bucs defense in the first half, and just 3 in the second. Tampa Bay rallied behind Josh Freeman and the offense who marched down the field again and scored on an Arrelious Benn touchdown pass which made it 20-17. It was after this that the Bucs were able to put all their first half failures behind them and power past the Vikings.
The defense played outstanding in the second half and forced the VIkings to turn the ball over on a punt with around 4:00 left in the game. What followed was pure Josh Freeman magic and the reason Bucs fans are so excited about what they have. Freeman drove the Bucs down the field 61 yards and put Tampa Bay inside the Vikings five yard-line with under 0:30 to go.
LaGarrette Blount forced his way into the endzone and sucked the gravity out of the Metrodome and knocked the fight out of the Vikings. He finished with 71 yards on 13 carries, a significant improvement upon his week one effort. Freeman finished with 243 yards and a touchdown, going 22-31
A nice bright spot was Preston Parker, who was filling the shoes of slot man Sammie Stroughter. Parker finished with 98 yards receiving and although he had no touchdowns, was instrumental to the Bucs moving the ball in the second half. Credit to moving the ball also goes to Kellen Winslow. His 4 catches and 44 yards were huge for the Bucs and came in big time spots where drives needed to be extended.
Tampa now sits at 1-1 and are tied with the Saints atop the division. With an Atlanta loss tonight, Tampa will be in a great position to pin the Falcons next week to the bottom of the division. This win on the road is a huge one not only because it evens the Bucs record, but the way they won in Minnesota will give this team a confidence boost that will put them back on the original trajectory we all thought they’d be on by now.