Bucs Snag Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

The Buccaneers ran out of steam in the fourth quarter in front of about 30,000 real fans who actually stayed for the entire game. When Ronde Barber returned his interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter the stands started to empty towards the exits. It is hard to fathom why someone would pay 400 bones for a seat only to leave early. The fans who left early were not alone because the home team thought the game was over also, which turned out to be a costly mistake.

The Buccaneers lost the battle Monday night, and suffered injuries that could end up hurting their chances of winning the war. The injured list that already includes Shelton Quarles and Joe Jurevicius added some key names to its ranks Tuesday morning, most notably Keyshawn Johnson. A bruised thigh will at the very least limit Johnson's playing time Sunday when the Bucs travel to the nations capital to face off against Steve Spurrier's Redskins.

The running back position also took a beating against the Colts. Mike Alstott and Michael Pittman were banged up before the game and played anyway. Pittman battled his way to 100 yards rushing for the first time this season, but he will most likely split carries with Thomas Jones next Sunday. Aaron Stecker twisted his knee, but will play next week. Alstott re- aggravated his neck injury and is out for the season so look for Jameel Cook to pave the way at fullback as the Bucs try to avoid falling below .500.

The defense took its lumps as well. Jack Golden is doubtful for next week having hurt his foot which will weaken a special teams unit that is already in turmoil. The biggest hit on defense was the injury suffered by Brian Kelly, he has a pectoral strain that will in all likelihood keep him out of Sunday ' s tilt against Washington. The Bucs will not be facing a juggernaught like Indianapolis next week, but Spurrier is licking his chops facing a defense that is reeling after giving up 38 points at home.

Every game in the NFL is a must win , but the Bucs are in serious need of a win next week to avoid giving Carolina a daunting four game lead in the NFC South. The Buccaneers have not had their backs against the wall in the regular season for quite some time. After listening to the disgust voiced by the players and coaches after the game Monday night all indications point to a big win on the road in the district. The Bucs will respond like the champions they are or suffer with the possibility of missing the play-offs all together.

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