Tampa Bay’s game balls go to…

By Os Davis  |   Sunday, October 14, 2007  |  Comments( 0 )

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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It wasn't pretty Sunday, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will certainly take their 13-10 win over the Tennessee Titans. At 4-2, the Buccaneers are now looking like the prohibitive favorites to win the NFC South, surprisingly. After this corner-turning, sit-up-and-take-notice weekend, RealFootball365.com takes the opportunity to present a handful of game balls. A virtual trophy, plated in pewter, naturally, go to those on...

Special teams. Some folks don't like the fact that an NFL game can be won on a field goal, putting the game in the hands (foot?) of a specialist who comes on maybe five times a week and rarely has to tackle. Nevertheless, they're loving Matt Bryant in Tampa Bay today. Incidentally, his 43-yarder capped a game in which the footman was a more valuable fantasy player than Vince Young. Game ball.

Defense. Early in the fourth, when a still fresh-looking Jovan Haye crashed through Tennessee's offensive line as though it were tissue paper, this writer went to the stats. The smearing of Kerry Collins deep in Titan territory represented Haye's ninth hit of the game. He'd finish with 10 and Tennessee began running plays on its touchdown drive away from Haye. Some blue-wearing dudes doubtless had nightmares about No. 71 Sunday night, the least of which is not Young, who on his injury-inducing run out of bounds was chased by ... who else? Jovan Haye. Game ball.

Hey, pitch a couple Barrett Ruud and Cato June's way, too. These swarming linebackers both put up double figures in tackles, with the latter becoming one of the single best offseason acquisitions in 2007. Collins didn't stand a chance.

And finally throw one to Ronde Barber and pray that Jeff Fisher doesn't challenge. Barber was in top form getting two near-interceptions (Am I the only one, incidentally, who thinks that he had possession of the third-quarter pick?) and even participating in the bizarre comedy of errors in the fourth. Game ball.

On a side note, perhaps folks should sit up and take notice, as this patchwork defense has now recorded five scoreless halves and 12 scoreless quarters. I guess Monte Kiffin's still got it.

Offense. It's tough to give kudos to an offensive unit that produces a single TD against a ho-hum defense, but this group actually played quite a bit better than the record shows. A nod and game ball to Earnest Graham, not for his stats (just 29 yards on 13 carries), but simply for his first start since he was running with the Florida Gators and for playing in such inauspicious circumstances. How long before someone over at The Worldwide Leader in [American] Sports anoints him "The Greatest No. 4 Halfback of All-Time"? Game ball.

Veterans Ike Hilliard and Joey Galloway were excellent on long routes and both seriously took so much advantage of Nick Harper - the former for a 39-yard gain in the second to set up the first half's only three points, the latter for the Bucs' only TD - that the Titans' cornerback frustratingly placed a certain fine-inducing hit that knocked out TE Alex Smith in the fourth.

But in the end, the ball is once again placed in the hands of the man who had it just long enough in the fourth to lead the team downfield, the third piece of the old-school triad with Hilliard and Galloway, Jeff Garcia.

With just three passes over 43 seconds, Garcia attempted once more to show an incredibly unknowing NFL audience about what he can do. His single impressive stat of the past five years or so? Interceptions. As in lack of. Start with the mind-blowing stat of his actual zero interceptions thrown as a Buccaneer; combined with last year's run as replacement for Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia, and Garcia has thrown exactly two interceptions in his last 13 games.

In the end, though, Garcia isn't about the stats. What he is about is winning. Which he does. Like on Sunday. Game ball.

Watch out for these Buccaneers. They may yet make some noise.

Awarding the worthy all year-round at RealFootball365.com
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About Os Davis

Os Davis has taken a twisted route to get to RealFootball365.com in his nearly 17 years in professional writing, working in any number of capacities in the sportswriting, news reporting and film criticism worlds. In print media, Os has served as editor at a few publications, including Albuquerque's...
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