Resilience is Bucs Strongest Trait

The Bucs displayed a lot of character in fighting through adversity yesterday.
The Bucs displayed a lot of character in fighting through adversity yesterday. /
The Bucs displayed a lot of character in fighting through adversity yesterday.
The Bucs displayed a lot of character in fighting through adversity yesterday. /

Looking back on yesterday’s 38-35 win over the Arizona Cardinals, one theme continues to permeate the post-game analysis. This Buccaneers team may not be elite, you could fill up a list with problems and short-comings facing this current Tampa Bay squad, they haven’ gotten off to a good start all year, they struggle playing with a lead and above all else they’re young and prone to mental errors and rookie-caliber mistakes. But man are they ever resilient. Say what you want about how Raheem Morris runs his team, but this is a squad with absolutely no quit in it.

Seemingly right out the gate yesterday the Buccaneers found themselves in a hole. After a good initial defensive stand by the Bucs, the Cardinals forced the Bucs offense into a three-and-out. After getting the ball back, they drove the length of the field and punched in a touchdown to go up 7-0. The very next possession the offense went three-and-out again.

The next defensive series was going to be paramount, the Cardinals had moved the ball down the field and scored once already, another big drive could have really crushed the Bucs confidence. But a Geno Hayes interception return quickly evened the score and put the Bucs back where they wanted to be.

A few series later after the Cardinals capitalized on a Sammie Stroughter muff inside the Bucs’ 20, Tampa Bay again found itself down 7. This time it was the offense that stepped up and displayed resilience, responding with a three play 80 yard drive that was capped off by a Mike Williams 47 yard touchdown reception.

But to me, the point in the game when the Bucs really displayed their character came well into the third quarter. After reeling off 24 unanswered points to go up 31-14, the Buccaneers let Arizona right back into the game, surrendering two touchdowns in just under half a minute. The Cardinals would later add another touchdown to go up 35-31.

A lot of young teams would have been licked there. A lot of other Bucs teams would have been licked there. Having been up 17 at one point and then having given up 21 points and all of your momentum, the Bucs could have flat-lined at the end of that game. But this is a team with confidence in itself and most importantly in its quarterback. As if you expected it go any other way, Josh Freeman steadied the Bucs offense and lead them on another game-winning drive, the highlight of which was a beautiful 53-yard pass to Arrelious Benn. The Bucs wouldn’t relinquish the lead again after that, LeGarrette Blount would seal the deal a series later and Tampa would leave Arizona 5-2. I think kicker Connor Barth says it best:

"“We don’t give up. It doesn’t matter what the score is, we’re fighting. I would say a good term for our team is ‘finishing.’ We’re finishing games. It’s not pretty sometimes, but we’re finishing them. We’re getting wins and that’s what good teams do, find a way to win.”"

There were a lot of opportunities for the Bucs to lose control of that game yesterday. A lot of places that a lesser team could have backed down or been beaten. But the Buccaneers have a ton of character, they were resilient until the end and were able to overcome not just the Cardinals, but themselves, in a hard-fought win.