In a game that looked like Carolina’s after they scored with 6 minutes left in the 4th quarter, Tampa Bay found a way to pull out a win in the end. The Bucs took an early lead of 10-0 in the first, but did not score again until late in the fourth quarter. Josh Freeman did well in the very beginning and the very end, but struggled in the middle. He will have to play more complete games for Tampa to keep winning, but he did enough in this one.
The offense for Tampa Bay was solid once again. Doug Martin is proving each game that he is for real, with another outstanding effort. He totaled over 150 total yards in this one, again leading the offense in an impressive way. Freeman had his struggles, but ultimately had 3 TDs and 2 INTs. The last two touchdowns were the most impressive. He hit Vincent Jackson 24 yards out with just 12 seconds left to bring the game within two points. He then hit Jackson again to tie it up and force overtime. That was an absolutely huge moment for the young QB, hitting the veteran receiver that has turned around his season. He wasn’t done after that. He led his team down the field to score a TD to seal the victory.
Tampa ideally should have won this game easily, but it rarely ends up that way. It was a division game on the road and hard fought until the end. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Tampa didn’t dominate the game. They are now 6-4 and in serious contention for the playoffs. Next week they have a real challenge with Atlanta at home. The Bucs are coming off a 4 game winning steak, but Atlanta has lost just 1 time all year. A far cry from the 2-8 Panthers. Still, Atlanta has played a lot of close games this year, and most recently barely topped the struggling Cardinals. The Falcons are a very strong team, but have struggled a bit recently. They are probably as vulnerable as they have been all year. I’m not saying that they will win this game, but if Tampa can pull it off they will be a very real competitor for the rest of the year.