Final: Buccaneers 3, 49ers 48
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can look fondly back on their 21-0 shut out of the San Francisco 49ers last year because the Niners punched the Bucs in the mouth in revenge today, burring Tampa in what quickly became an ugly game.
Some may blame the time change, some may blame the cross country trip but at the end of the day Tampa has no one to blame for the blowout in the bay but themselves.
It was 1999 the last time Tampa was on the receiving end of thrashing like the one they got today. The score was 45-0 in that game and Tampa may have avoided a shutout, but they didn’t spare themselves from sheer and utter embarrassment.
I called it pregame and it unfortunately came true: Josh Freeman was unable to lead a comeback as the Bucs dug too big a hole to climb out of. It was 24-3 at the half and it only got worse from there.
With the score 41-3, the 49ers brought in their backup quarterback and backup running back to finish out the game. What’s more insulting is Alex Smith only completed 11 passes but scored 21 points. The Bucs held Smith to 170 yards but allowed him to throw 3 TDs.
It was the running game that killed Tampa, not Alex Smith. Frank Gore went for 125 yards and a score which extended drives and killed Tampa on third down. To add to that, backup running back Kendall Hunter went for 60-plus on just 8 carries in his first series on the field.
The Bucs were hurting from an aggressive game on Monday night and the cross country trip on a short week does weigh on you and it is a factor not and excuse. Tampa got dominated and just because they had a long trip doesn’t mean it can be rolled off their shoulders. New England traveled from Oakland to Gillette Stadium and managed to stay in their game and –surprise, surprise– they won it.
Now this may be a hard concept for some to grasp but it’s a cold blooded reality of the NFL. What if this had been a playoff game where the Bucs traveled from a home game to the west coast? Would the same excuses be made that are right now?
The good thing is that this (thank God) wasn’t a playoff game and the Bucs can build from it. It’s not the end of the season, it’s not the turning point; it’s a wake up call to get your head in the game earlier than the third quarter.
To quote Fight Club: It’s only when you’re destructed that you can be resurrected.
The Bucs will need to rebound next week in an even bigger game against the now first place Saints. This was a shock for the Bucs that will, no, MUST serve as a wake up call.
Otherwise we have highly overestimated the Bucs this season.