The Bucs had an interesting day yesterday, defensively they got beaten but still managed to hold the Redskins to just 16 points and ultimately pick up the win, and offensively the team started slow, failed to do much at all in the first half and then resorted to their usual M.O. of a late game comeback on the shoulders of Josh Freeman.
If the Bucs want to make the playoffs, let alone go anywhere in them, they need to shore up several things first. We already discussed the problems with their front seven, offensively they have to learn to get off to a better start. The Buccaneers have not been a good first half team this year and the entire offensive game-plan gets thrown out of whack when a team starts off slowly like the Bucs have made a habit of doing.
In the first half the Buccaneers offense held the ball for just ten minutes, losing the time of possession battle 2:1. That let the defense wear down on the field, gave Washington a chance to build offensive rhythm and put the Bucs in a hole early. It wasn’t until Josh Freeman connected with Arrelious Benn on a 64-yard deep route that the Buccaneers’ offense start to get in sync.
Even then, the Bucs offense never really hit stride until its final drive when they managed to finally score a touchdown. Things just felt off all day yesterday, the team couldn’t capitalize on many of its opportunities, instead opting to kick three field goals and fumbling a ball at their own goal-line after setting up first-and-goal on a 43 yard pass to Benn.
Arrelious Benn was easily the offensive MVP, almost as if he traded places with Mike Williams for a week, the DC-native caught four balls for 122 yards in his homecoming. He was a force all day, at one point burning the self-proclaimed “fastest player in the league” DeAngelo Hall for a big pass play.
Freeman added 266 yards on 15 of 25 passing and threw a game-winning touchdown to Kellen Winslow (2 catches 52 yards, TD). Most impressive though was watching Josh Freeman will his 6’6 250 pound frame across the goal-line for the two-point conversion. The Bucs had to have that and Freeman wasn’t going to be denied. It’s nice to finally see the Bucs using the sneak, they have one of the biggest, most physically imposing quarterbacks in the game, use him more!
LeGarrette Blount had a decent day 15 carries for 68 yards, but also committed a costly fumble. I thought yesterday would be a huge day for Blount, I even said I thought he could for 150, but the poor start and the tempo of the game kept him from getting enough carries to even approach that number.
This win wasn’t pretty, but Josh Freeman once again stepped up and demonstrated the grit and moxie that we’ve all grown to know and love, in leading the Bucs to a much-needed win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Now 8-5 with home games against Detroit and Seattle, the Bucs have their path right in front of them. It won’t be easy but it’s doable. And Josh Freeman is the right guy to lead this team through it.
The Bucs can now finish no worse than 8-8, and no matter how the last three weeks go, from 3-13 to 8-8 is a successful season, without a doubt.