Buccaneers: Skeptics get the return they really expected

Ryan Succop, Bradley Pinion, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Ryan Succop, Bradley Pinion, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

Tom Brady’s return is done, and through the rain there was a clear result. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were better than the New England Patriots on Sunday Night. Just two points better, but that’s one point more than necessary.

That’s how the NFL works though, short of a tie. There is a winning team and a losing team, regardless of how aesthetically pleasing the contest is or isn’t.

How the game unfolded and the final outcome, though, seems to be a gripe coming out of the victory last night. Well, at least for the skeptics not hoping to see Tom Brady return to his former home stadium and complete the circuit of defeating every team at least once.  These cynics probably desired to see a dry, high scoring, low penalty and turnover-free affair that ended one of three ways.

The first way would be the Buccaneers being behind on the last drive of the game. Brady would be steering the Bucs down the field like he usually does to engineer a last second win. This time, though, it would be an interception or fumble that sealed the game for New England and would lead to howls that Brady was again in decline.

Another would have been the same scenario, but leading to a Ryan Succop field goal attempt to eek out a close Bucs win. Of course, in their hopes and dreams, Succop misses, and there’s revelry and musket shots all over Gillette Stadium and the rest of the NFC South.

The third desired result for those hoping to see the champs lose would have been how it actually played out last night. Rookie QB Mac Jones, who the Patriots want to be the next Brady (which we all know is impossible, there’s only one), drives his team down the field late in the 4th quarter and scores to spoil Tampa Tom’s homecoming.

Well, that’s almost how it played out. See, teams have to stick the landing in this league because close doesn’t cut it. The Patriots failed to do so when former Bucs and current Patriots placekicker Nick Folk doinked a 56 yard field goal off the left upright.

That not only ended his streak of connecting on 36 straight field goals, which to Bucs fans begs the question as to why couldn’t he do that while in pewter and red, but it also ended the game as well as the hopes that anything besides Mother Nature would rain on the Bucs and Brady’s parade.

Ultimately, the weather and Tampa Bay’s championship mettle dealing with adverse circumstances were triumphant over a game New England squad looking for an upset. That’s what winners do when factors like bad officiating and injuries go against them.  Both did on Sunday night.

It may not have been a perfectly-played Return for a nationwide audience or ended the way many viewers desired, but who cares. The Bucs won, and Brady got one over on Belichick.

Deep down, even the harshest skeptics had to know Tampa Bay would find a way to win this game. THIS game. The best and worst part of “The Return” for them is that they were right.

Next. Richard Sherman has perfect analysis for his first game with Buccaneers. dark