Ugly, Ugly, Ugly
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers showed the entire NFL how to lose a very important football game on Sunday with their 31-24 loss to the San Diego Chargers. A few things: The quarterback cannot make stupid passes and must never, ever turn the ball over. The running backs can't fumble the ball or drop easy first-down passes. The offensive line must learn the simple theory of the snap count and must keep their hands to themselves. The defensive backfield must not fall down for the second straight road loss and give up a late go-ahead touchdown pass. The special teams must make its chip-shot field goals. The head coach must take responsibility for bringing in veterans if he wants, but some with talent. The Bucs failed on all counts Sunday. Amazingly, after they have been given up for dead repeatedly over the past month, loss after stupid loss, they are STILL a factor in the NFC playoff hunt because no other team seems to want to go to the party. After the pathetic NFC breakdown on Sunday, with fellow 5-7 teams looking at one of two potential playoffs pots, everyone else except Carolina lost. This is turning into the Christmas Party From Hell. The way the Bucs played on Sunday, though, was pathetic enough to make it meaningless anyway. Start off at quarterback. Brian Griese completed 36 passes for 373 yards. Good number, OK, but when the chips were down, he fired three interceptions, including one that led to a go-ahead Chargers touchdown with just over four minutes to go. He made enough key plays to keep it close, but a team can't win with three interceptions, including one in the end zone. True, receivers Joey Galloway (2 touchdowns) and Michael Clayton came up big when they could get open, but they were about the only Bucs that shouldn't hang their heads. Running back Michael Pittman rushed for 42 yards on 12 carries (why just 12?) and made a key fumble. Mike Alstott dropped an easy first down pass that stalled a Bucs drive late in the third quarter. The offensive line was horrible. It gave up three sacks, but was responsible for most of the 12 penalties. Holding, offsides, even a faskmask helped stall drives that kept punter Josh Bidwell on the field more than he should have been. The defense was eaten apart by the San Diego offense, which, high-powered as it is, stalled as well for much of the afternoon. It's not a loss that is disappointing; they happen. It's the way they happen. Two straight road games a Bucs defensive back has been burned by isolation coverage, and the Bucs simply don't have an offense that can come up with quick points. Oh, one more thing. New kicker Jay Taylor has some kind of grace period, apparently, but missing a 30-yarder was ugly. Remind you of anyone? Keep saying it: It's not over, It's not over, It's not over. That may be true, but there's no reason to think otherwise. .
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