ThePewterPirate: Hey there, pretty good game, huh?
ThePewterPirate: It looks like he might get more snaps now.
Matthew Postins: I'd say there's a good chance of that. I think that fumble Williams committed in the second half did a lot of damage to his reliability as a runner. That's his second key fumble in three weeks. I could see them spreading the carries out among Williams, (Michael) Pittman and Graham next week.
ThePewterPirate: That's true. Graham's runs were the longest so far of the year, weren't they?
Matthew Postins: I'd have to check, but I think that 28-yard TD run is the longest of anyone this year. It wasn't just that it was long. It was also tough. Great stiff-arm on Corey Chavous on that play. The first half was basically a chess match. The Bucs got a field goal out of their final drive (of the first half), but it could have been more.
Matthew Postins: The Rams called time out before the last play before the field goal. It was bone dry, but you could see the rain coming from MLK. By the time Bryant went out for the field goal, it was pouring and the Bucs had to run the ball the preceding play to not lose possession. It was a great bit of strategy. (Rams head coach Scott) Linehan's most inspired move of the day.
ThePewterPirate: The rest of the NFC South isn't looking like much of a threat to us right now.
Matthew Postins: I'd say the Bucs will likely be a road favorite (at Carolina), depending on (quarterback Jake) Delhomme's condition.
ThePewterPirate: When I turned it (the game) on, the Rams were driving and ended up getting a field goal. Then I watched us score twice on those running plays.
Matthew Postins: That field-goal drive was big. I really though the Bucs were going to give up a TD there, but the run defense really stiffened up and (Rams QB Marc) Bulger tried to force a pass to (Drew) Bennett where he just wasn't in a position to catch it. The Bucs defense made those sorts of plays all day. They bent but never broke.
ThePewterPirate: I think they got a sack on Bulger there too.
Matthew Postins: (Kevin) Carter and Greg Peterson shared a sack.
ThePewterPirate: We play Carolina, Indy and Tennessee next. I like our chances in all of those games.
Matthew Postins: I think they have a good chance against Carolina and Tennessee. I don't think their chances are that good against Indy. They'll be on the road and the Colts are just too much to handle offensively. The Bucs could, potentially, be 4-2 when Jacksonville comes to town.
ThePewterPirate: 4-2 is a helluva lot better than last season's 4-12.
Matthew Postins: Certainly. And, as you said, the weakness of the division at this moment makes next week's game a key one. It gives the Bucs a chance to get some separation before they go to Indy.
Matthew Postins: No one thought we would be talking about this three weeks into the season.
ThePewterPirate: Haha. Yeah
Matthew Postins: The thing is, this defense has not played up to its potential yet. They've done this with no pass rush. The secondary is playing as well as I've ever seen it. The back line and LBs are really helping the front four out by playing so well. When they finally get their act together and get more pressure, this unit could be back in the top 10.
ThePewterPirate: We could always start blitzing more.
Matthew Postins: We blitzed quite a bit today. They'll have to keep doing so until the rush can come from just the front four.
ThePewterPirate: I am really happy with the turnaround by the LBers and the safeties. Cutting (Simeon) Rice didn't help us at all.
Matthew Postins: They've played some impressive football. I have to give Jermaine Phillips credit. He's playing a lot better than last year. And he's going to have to because Sabby Piscitelli could be out for a while. He hurt his ankle today and was on crutches when I saw him in the locker room.
ThePewterPirate: That's no good. I told (iDRIVEa) Caddy in a post earlier that I was pleasantly surprised with how Philips has been playing.
Matthew Postins: He had a pick today, and he looked like a WR doing it. Bulger never should have thrown it. Made some good hits, too. He's missing fewer tackles than last year.
ThePewterPirate: I'm glad to hear that. Was (Joey) Galloway injured, or did he just get the wind knocked outta him?
Matthew Postins: I think he got the wind knocked out of him. Imagine Gruden on that play. He must've had the wind knocked out of him, too. That's one player they cannot afford to lose.
ThePewterPirate: Haha. Yeah, he looked more annoyed on the sideline
Matthew Postins: I think that came shortly before or shortly after Cadillac's fumble. That could be why.
ThePewterPirate: It was in the end of the third quarter, I think.
Matthew Postins: That would have been shortly before.
ThePewterPirate: I didn't see any fumbles, or the penalties that they were posting about.
Matthew Postins: The Bucs committed very few penalties, aside from the two personal fouls Brooks and Barber were called for in the third quarter. The Brooks call was a bit dubious. I think McMichael was still moving. As for Barber, he just got too animated standing over the ball carrier. He didn't tell us what he said to earn the penalty.
ThePewterPirate: How do our chances look in winning the division?
Matthew Postins: At the moment I'd say they're pretty good. Atlanta looked a little better today, but still lost to Carolina. The Panthers now have to sweat both Delhomme's elbow and (Steve) Smith's nagging injury. The Bucs don't see the Saints until December and they've got big problems on defense. If the Bucs can keep playing consistent ball, they can take control of this thing. Getting a win next week over the Panthers would be huge for them.
ThePewterPirate: It really would.
ThePewterPirate: Plus, it would let me taunt the Panthers forum with some ammo.