"It seemed like the Bucs just didn't want to win the game. They were flat on defense, deflating on special teams and just okay on offense. How could the Bucs not be focused with so much at stake? I know Detroit's defensive line has an advantage over Tampa Bay's offensive line, but most of the other matchups should have favored the Bucs. They should have come out and put away a team that doesn't have much to play for, but once again, it was a typically close Detroit-Tampa Bay affair, unfortunately."
"The Bucs win, the Falcons and Saints lose. One more win to clinch the NFC South. Suddenly, the Bucs should feel much better about getting their 11th win."
"Losing Anthony McFarland for the year with a broken foot is huge. Chartric Darby and Ellis Wyms can play well in his absence, but playing well doesn't win championships. Playing great does. McFarland is a great player."
"I think the Bucs should have run the ball a lot more than they did. The offensive line was struggling mightily in pass protection, but was opening up some running lanes for Mike Alstott, Michael Pittman and Aaron Stecker. Alstott had 11 carries for 47 yards, including a 23-yarder. Pittman had 11 carries for 46 yards, and Stecker had four runs for 28 yards."
"Kudos to Jon Gruden and Bill Muir for pulling right guard Cosey Coleman out of the game after getting his 3,000th penalty in the contest. Coleman was reinserted into the game after Todd Washington proved to be ineffective, but I hope that Gruden and Muir ripped him a new one. The mental and physical breakdowns on the offensive line were inexcusable."
"The Bucs need to get a speedy return man. Detroit's Eddie Drummond, New Orleans Michael Lewis and Atlanta's Allen Rossum all had huge returns on Sunday. Aaron Stecker had a big return on the opening kickoff, but didn't have the speed to score, and it cost the Bucs four points because they only managed to get a field goal out of their opening drive. The Bucs have to give Reggie Barlow a shot on punt returns. Karl Williams hasn't had a big return in weeks and doesn't have the speed to take one back without flawless blocking. He also made an uncharacteristic gaffe by running backwards after a punt return, losing eight yards."
"What was Marty Mornhinweg thinking by taking his second timeout after sending Jason Hanson out to try a 57-yard field goal? That cost his defense a chance to give their offense the ball back. Fire this incompetent buffoon. His decision-making ability is amateurish."
LEO HAGGERTY – Pewter Report Managing Editor:
"I don't care how bad the Bucs looked -- the bottom line is they're 11-3. Anytime you go on the road in the National Football League it's, as head coach Jon Gruden aptly put it, a memorable experience. The Lions played extremely well plus the entire Tampa Bay defensive playbook, designed to stop quarterback Joey Harrington, had to be discarded. When back up Mike McMahon came in when the Lions starter was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat and was taken to the hospital for tests it gave Detroit a lift. Give the Lions players credit because they didn't quit."
"This could have been the final straw for Marty Mornhinweg. Definitely some questionable coaching decisions at the end of the game cost the Lions any chance of getting the football back after kicker Jason Hanson came up short on a 57-yard attempt in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. First, the Lions coaching staff had no plan as to whether they were in four-down territory when they crossed into Bucs territory in their final drive. The Detroit coaches also had to take a time out, their second, on fourth down to discuss whether to try the field goal or punt or go for the first down. That should have all been done on second down and it showed that the Detroit sideline resembles a Chinese fire drill when it comes to organization and thinking ahead, which is essential for good game management from a coaching perspective."
"Again the rushing yardage is not the key statistic but the rushing attempts. The Bucs ran the football 28 times and that's over the magic number of 25. In fact the Bucs came out and ran the football the first four plays of the game. That paid dividends later in the contest because the Pewter Pirates were able to go to their play-action passing attack and that's a majority of their passing game."
JIM FLYNN – Pewter Report Assistant Editor:
"It's not like the Buccaneers didn't have anything to play for on Sunday, but it certainly looked that way. Yes, the Bucs defeated the Lions and improved to 11-3 on the season (5-2 on the road), but the Bucs, at times, looked like the 3-10 team. The defense was sloppy, the special teams, with the exception of K Martin Gramatica, was mediocre and the offense was average. But in the end, Tampa Bay made a few more plays than Detroit, which was enough to pull this one out."
"How are we supposed to know which offensive line is going to show up on Sundays? One week, the Bucs' offensive line looks like its above average and the next week it looks like a junior varsity unit. Thank goodness Jon Gruden pulled right guard Cosey Coleman out of the game after he committed his third penalty. The offense didn't have much more room left to move backward."
"While no one really knows if the offensive line will ever put solid back-to-back games together, the running game did just that Sunday. The running back by committee approach worked against Detroit's woeful defense. The Bucs' offense produced 123 yards rushing on 28 carries (4.3 avg.), which gave the team two consecutive games with over 100 yards rushing. They say you need a running game and a stellar defense in order to play in the Super Bowl and the Buccaneers have both right now."
"Tampa Bay should send its holiday card and present to Detroit head coach Marty Mornhinweg on Monday morning. After all, he did give the Bucs a few presents on Sunday. Hey, Marty -- nice job calling a timeout before letting kicker Jason Hanson, who was 0-2 from beyond 50 yards this season, attempt a 57-yarder that would have tied the game if he made it. Even with Hanson missing, the Lions would've had all three of its timeouts remaining and they could've got the ball back again. But by using that timeout, the Bucs' offense was able to simply run the clock out on three downs. Mornhinweg gave the Lions one more reason to fire him by burning that timeout, but the Bucs certainly don't mind."
"Although the way they played would suggest they didn't deserve it, Tampa Bay received a tremendous amount of help from other teams on Sunday. The Bucs' win over the Lions along with losses by both the Saints and Falcons put the Pewter Pirates in great position in terms of the playoffs. A Bucs win over the Steelers next Monday night and/or a Saints loss to the Bengals next Sunday would give Tampa Bay the NFC South Division title. I suspect they'll get up for that one."
"Tampa Bay must defeat Pittsburgh next Monday night in Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs can't afford to go to Chicago the following Sunday with the NFC South Division title riding on that contest. The Bears upset the Jets on Sunday, and they're a team that has absolutely nothing to play for. Don't think the Bears are going to let the Bucs go into their home stadium and try to win a division title without a real fight. But, if the Bucs beat the Steelers, they may find that they don't have anything to play for that Sunday night against Chicago (if the Eagles have already wrapped up home-field advantage, the Bucs would not even have to play its starters against the Bears because they'd already have the No. 2 playoff seed secured)."
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