5 dash 2, This isn’t your Sam Wyche 1995 Buccaneers

By on November 1, 2010

Glendale, Az (RSE)— And yes for those of you who do not remember the 1995 season, the one that ended in disaster.  Coach Sam Wyche made a quote that they were 5 dash 2, after the seventh game.  The Bucs merely went on to lose their last 7 out of 9 games to finish 7 and 9.[media-credit name=”undefined | Rocket Sports & Entertainment” align=”alignright” width=”190″][/media-credit]

Not this year, there is no smoke and mirrors in this 5 dash 2.

There was a list of question marks heading into Sunday’s game in Arizona. With a starting offensive line of Donald Penn, Ted Larsen, Jeremy Zuttah, Davin Joseph and James Lee there was a question if the Bucs could keep their road winning streak alive.  I believed in James’ work ethic and positive energy to reverberate through the whole offense.

Due to the time change in the Rocket Sports & Entertainment radio show I was unable to make the trip to Phoenix as planned to join our Tampa Bay sports heroes’ invasion of Arizona.  (Bolts and Bucs)  So I decided to take in the surrounding at a local South Tampa sports bar to watch the Bucs-Cards game.

Bucs kick off to start the game in the valley, “Valley of the Sun” that is.

On the first play from scrimmage Beanie Wells ripped off 13 yards on the ground, and the fleeting thought passed through my mind, oh no!

So, the Cards go 61 yards in 9 plays to go up 7-o with 6:25 left in the first quarter.  Rookie QB Max Hall hit Larry Fitzgerald from 3 yards out for an easy score.  7-0 Cardinals. Oh no!

Bucs go 3 and out on their first two possessions. But Geno Hayes and the Bucs defense took things in their hands.  When the Bucs brought pressure to the right side of rookie QB Max Hall, safety Sean Jones was able to get in Hall’s face forcing an errant toss that ended up in Hayes’ linebacker mitts.  Hayes raced 41 yards uncontested for the score, 7-7.

The next offensive possession for the Bucs, 3 and out again.  3 possessions, 9 plays, 12 yards…can I have a multiple of 4 please!

Then the muffed punt.  Sammie Stroughter muffs a Ben Graham punt that LeRod Stephens-Howling (great Halloween name, the Howling part anyway) pounces on it at the Tampa 16.

 Beanie Wells ends up pounding in from the one.  14 –  7 Arizona.

Now pay attention, here is the key to why this isn’t 1995. On the first play of the fourth possession, finally, as those Cardinals packed the box… a play action roll out strike to Mike Williams for 31 yards.  Now we’re rolling, 2 plays later Freeman hit Williams with a pass of perfection for a 47 yard pay dirt production.  A methodical 3 play, 80 yards in a 1:18, quick strike Buccaneers, tie it at 14.

With 6:44 left in the half, Max Hall threw his second pick six, this time to Aqib Talib who returned it 45 yards while putting on a move on Hall inside the 10 which will surely be chatter for Talib to lobby for offensive playing time.  But please save the antics, he was penalized 15 for unsportsmanlike after the score.

On the ensuring possession the Cardinals were given great field position after the Talib penalty and quickly moved the ball down to the Tampa 11 after Steve Breaston made a nice catch on the sidelines.  Tampa challenged the call; the evidence showed it was inbounds.    On a 4th and 2 from the plus 3, Derek Anderson (who replaced Max Hall on this series) threw incomplete in the end zone to Larry Fitzgerald.

The Bucs take over on downs with 3:15 left in the half.  This is a drive that really opened my eyes towards throwing this out there; ah this is a real good offensive.  Greg Olson went work; 3 plays under center to get breathing room out to the minus 14…no huddle-shotgun to the plus 37, no,  just what I have been praising Josh Freeman for, taking care of the ball.  PICK!  Wait, negate it, pass interference on the Cards.  First and 10 Bucs at the Arizona 35.   Father Time would kill the drive at the Cardinals 3, as Connor Barth, love this guy, would drill an extra point that was worth three to end the half.  24-14 Buccaneers.  HALFTIME.

The second half started with each team trading possessions.  Derek Anderson did manage to throw a pick that with never see the stat book due to offsetting holding penalties, remember, think back, remember the old, “do over”.

The Bucs take over on their own 20 after a gratuitous bounce lead to a touchback following a Ben Graham punt.  A combination of Freeman completions and La Garrette Blount runs got the pigskin down to the plus 36 yard line.  On the next play Freeman drifted right and scrambled 21 yards to the Cardinal 15.  Then Blount scores on a 15 yard run highlighted by him running over Arizona safety Kerry Rhodes at the 5 en-route to the end zone.  31-14 Bucs, the walk to behind the woodshed begins. 

The Cardinals put a stop to that by putting together a 7 play, 76 yard drive in 3:39 ending with a LaRod Stephens-Howling, 30 yard run.  Bucs lead cut, 31-21.

Next Bucs series, oh those turnovers.  Blount coughs it up the and eighth year linebacker from Pitt, Gerald Hayes returns it 21 yards for the score.  The play was challenged by Tampa but was upheld.  What the heck just happened was the feeling. Bucs still lead 31-28. (This is the first time I remember two linebackers named G. Hayes scoring TD’s in the same game.)

The Cardinals eventually take the ball over the ball on the Tampa 48 after a Tampa punt. First play; Derek Anderson hits Steve Breaston for 31 yards to the Tampa 11.  Anderson eventually would hit Larry Fitzgerald for a 6 yard score… Cards 35-Bucs 31.

By now I figure the stage is set for another Josh Freeman comeback… the stage commenced at the Bucs 26 yard line. Can he do it again!?!?

Olson and Freeman back to work; three consecutive touches by Blount, the Bucs are all the way to their 43.  Three plays later exactly as I’m interviewing a huge Bucs fan, Lenny Simmons, asking him if Freeman can come back again when he hits Arrelious Benn on a perfectly executed 53 yard bomb to the Cardinal 1.   “Josh Freeman!  Are you kidding me!  That was unbelievable…Holy cow that’s amazing” said Lenny as we stood there in awe.  I will play the clip on the radio show this Saturday. (It’s pretty neat with the fans in the background)  Next play: Blount pounds it in.   Bucs 38-35.

The Cardinals do not lay down working the football down to the Tampa 20, only to have Talib pick another Derek Anderson pass to end that threat. 

The Cards get the ball back with 0:55 to go at their own 24. Back to old school Buccaneer football; turn it over to the defense.  After a short completion, an incompletion, the Bucs sack QB Anderson, he fumbles but Arizona recovers for an 11 yard loss.  Two completions to Fitzgerald, 0:00 shows on the clock. Bucs win, 38-35.

407 total net yards of offense, a masterful game called by Greg Olson, a comeback by Freeman (18 of 25, 278 yards, 1 TD and my favorite stat no picks), Mike Williams growing up before our eyes.   Blount 22-120-2, had great day when it counted. James Lee #77 and his OL mates played their hearts out.  Lee in his first NFL start was tenacious all day play with true-blood talent, while rookie Ted Larsen, a Palm Harbor University High grad, did an outstanding job.  In the desert, in the fourth quarter this group of Buccaneers showed they were for real.

Don’t look now, the Bucs are 5 and 2.  I need two more wins for me but, nine wins… playoffs, do you believe?

This is Rick Sassone, Rocket Sports & Entertainment; I will see you in the Red Zone.

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