Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that I make one trip down to Tampa each year to see the Buccaneers in action, in person. I just returned home, and will now offer my thoughts on Tampa Bay’s 38-35 win over Indianapolis. I won’t go in-depth with stats here, because you all know by now what happened in the game.
Here’s the short version: this was the wildest Bucs game I have ever seen in person at Ray-Jay. It wasn’t the prettiest, and it was far from perfect, but the entertainment value was a 10 on a scale of 1-to-10.
Would I see good Jameis or bad Jameis? I saw the extreme versions of both. First, the bad. About 60 seconds after I told him from my seat, “don’t screw up,” he threw a pick. A few plays later, it was 7-0 Colts. Then came that moment in the second quarter when the Bucs were driving into Colts’ territory. Jameis threw another bad interception, and I had a clear view down the near sideline where the defensive player was running. Nothing but green grass. I said, “goodbye,” long before he reached the end zone to cap off his pick-six. Winston also threw another INT that drew groans from us Bucs fans.
Now, let’s talk about the good Jameis. He threw four touchdown passes and ran for a fifth score on a quarterback sneak (if you’re a fan, you know how rare the latter is.) And he did much of it without superstar Mike Evans, who caught one of the TD’s on a beautiful deep ball in the second quarter. But Evans pulled his hamstring en route to the end zone, and was out for the rest of the game. Tampa Bay was down 35-21 in the third quarter, and Winston led the Bucs to 17 unanswered points to pull it out.
Let’s talk about crowd – announced as just over 50,000. There was a LOT of Indy blue, especially behind the Colts’ sideline. A loud chant of “let’s go Colts!” even broke out at one point. We booed them. They shut up. But they had their moment in the sun. In the fourth quarter, they were nice and quiet when we got the “Tampa……Bay!!!!” chant going, which really is the only chant that matters when you’re at Ray-Jay.
Speaking of fans, I must talk about a guy who I will simply call “Fitz,” because he looked like former Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. If you look at the photo at the top of this post, he’s the one holding a beer, hugging another fan. This guy was wasted from the get-go. Every time Winston made a good play, he yelled, “that’s my quarterback!” After the pick-six, I yelled to him, “is he still your quarterback?” He seemed oblivious to that. The booze kept flowing, and he kept yelling. At one point, after getting another beer, he gave me a high-five as he was returning to his seat. God bless you, Fitz. You will go down as the most memorable fan from this game (in my book.)
And it would be ridiculous if I did not give a shout-out to the two ladies who accompanied me to the game. I won’t mention their first names unless they want me to, in which case I will update this post. But they are so much fun to hang out with.
So, it was an exciting (and warm) day at the stadium. And any time it ends with a win, it’s even better. Tampa, we’ll meet again next year.