See? All the Buccaneers had to do was beat Carolina, and the bad taste (much of it, anyway) would be out of our mouths.
And the Bucs did just that, using a big second half to turn a close game into a blowout. Tampa Bay swept the season series against the Panthers.
The biggest headline from a team standpoint was the Bucs’ ability to bounce back from a humiliating defeat against the Saints in front of a national TV audience. And I’m going to focus on Ronald Jones. He was involved in the worst – and best – plays of the game for the Bucs. His latest fumble – coming on the opening drive – led to the Panthers first touchdown.
But the buzz is about how he redeemed himself. In the third quarter, with the Bucs pinned back at their 2 and up by 3, RoJo finally broke a big one, taking it 98 yards to the house. It was the longest run in team history, and just the fourth run of 98+ yards in the history of the NFL. Jones finished with 192 yards rushing. We’ve been waiting for him to have that breakout game, and on Sunday he had it.
This wasn’t a perfect performance. The defense continued to look like a sieve in the first half before tightening up considerably. The receivers had several dropped passes. The tackling needs to be better. Special teams gave up a 98-yard kickoff return and had an extra point blocked (though they were not fooled on a fake punt.)
But the bottom line is this: the Bucs bounced back in a big way. They have another big game next Monday night against the Rams – a game with major playoff implications. Tampa Bay has struggled in prime-time this season. The Bucs can’t afford another subpar performance under the lights.
Photo courtesy: Associated Press