The next nominee for Buccaneers Play of the Year is a crucial stop against Carolina, giving Tampa Bay their first winning season since 2010.
Although must of us fans wanted our team to be in the playoffs, this year turned out to be a year of tremendous growth in many ways. Despite falling short, the team showed fight in ways we haven’t seen from Buccaneers teams in years. The team was resolved that no opponent or stage was to big. They had bumps along the road, but all in all this team fought hard for every yard regardless of the score.
A lot had been made of “mindset” coming into the season and this season continued to push forward the concept of learning how to win. That’s why my play of the year is the two point conversion stop at home, in week 17 against Carolina. Going into week 17 the playoffs were a distant possibility. The fate of the Bucs was pretty much sealed, they were going to miss the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. The Panthers and the Bucs had nothing to play for, yet for the first time in years, the Bucs played like their lives depended on it, in a meaningless game.
More from Bucs News
- Devin White posts cryptic message to Lavonte David on Twitter
- Updated Buccaneers depth chart after signing two players from rookie minicamp
- Todd Bowles sends clear message about Baker Mayfield’s role with Bucs
- The Athletic is wrong about Bucs one ‘must-watch’ game in 2023
- Todd Bowles admits he only looks at three things on Bucs schedule
The game was back and forth with a few mistakes by a Bucs side that could have blown the Panthers out. Instead the Bucs held a seven point lead in the final minutes of the fourth as the Panthers started driving. Watching that final Panthers possession you can’t tell me you weren’t shaking your head. As Benjamin caught that pass across the middle for a solid 40 yard gain I can hear it now “here we go again, always blowing it.”
The fourth down conversion from the 18 yard line had to be crushing. Follow that up with an easy TD catch by Kelvin Benjamin on the much smaller Hargreaves and it seemed like it was going to overtime. Then the Panthers made a decision to go for it. In the ensuing play, Olsen seemed to trip and the pass was incomplete. did you notice the celebration? Alexander did a little dance, Mcdougald waved his hands incomplete, and most of the D-line pumped their fists in the air. You can see the full play here.
This win mattered to a young Buccaneers team, when in reality it didn’t “matter”. The win was a sign of things to come, this Bucs team will not lay down and winning means something, playoffs or not, they play like their lives depended on it. Its the play of the year not for the play itself, but for the larger meaning behind it. Winning is starting to become a habit in Tampa and that’s something to celebrate.