Righting the Ship Week 10: Bucs 34, Chargers 24

It’s a testament to how badly burned Bucs fans feel after years of under-spending and Raheem Morris that, riding a two-game winning streak and sporting one of the hottest offenses in the league, they still couldn’t sell out yesterday’s game against the Chargers.  So I was once again forced to rely on the NFL’s Red Zone channel for glimpses of what was going on.  It’s not great for getting an overall picture of how the team played, but it’s better than the shoddy streaming version I found that was a good four minutes behind nothing.

Of course, with the way the offenses were playing in the first half, the game turned up on Red Zone quite a bit.  I’m willing to write off that first Chargers touchdown as a fluke, but the Bucs secondary proved they were more than happy to give up yardage via normal means as well.  Every time Red Zone cut to the game, there was Philip Rivers finding an open receiver, and usually on third and long.  The pass defense is the main reason I’m not getting on board with the playoff talk that so many want to start in on.  Sure, they buckled down in the second half, but it still took two huge defensive scores to keep the team in the game, something that can’t be consistently relied upon.

And yeah, Doug Martin came down to earth, but that was inevitable.  He still totaled 119 yards from scrimmage, but you knew the Chargers were going to do everything in their power to stop him, letting Josh Freeman be the one to beat them.  And while Freeman didn’t have a huge game either, he took what was there, made a few big plays when he needed to, and most importantly, didn’t turn the ball over (although he sure did try on a couple of iffy throws I saw).

The important thing is that the Bucs won a game when they weren’t exactly at their best.  The improvement just within this season is remarkable; this is a game this team loses if it’s Week 1 or 2, but now they’ve won three in a row and are above .500 for the first time in over a year.  It’s funny; I keep pointing to the next game as the one where the letdown will hit, and the Bucs keep winning them.  So I’m predicting a huge letdown next week in Charlotte!


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