Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bucs lose again, but not for lack of effort

A heartbreaking last- second 26-24 defeat leaves
the Bucs on the outside looking in at 0-3

Me-shawn(7 recs, 97 yds, 2 TDs) certainly helped do-in his old mates

It seemed as if they had this game lost after the first quarter, when the score was 17-0 Carolina. After all, the Bucs beyond-anemic offense had only managed 3 points in 2 games, and the Panthers have one of the league's stingiest defenses.
But a funny thing happened along the way to devastation & humilation at the hands of their arch rivals and arch-ex-team mate Me-shawn Johnson- the Bucs crawled out from their offense hole they had been in for 2+ games and gave the Panthers a run for their money, a run that lasted until there were 0:07 seconds left in the game. That is when clutch Carolina kicker John Kasey booted a 46-yd game-winning field goal that left the Bucs players & fans in a stunned silence of disbelief. They had worked so hard to snatch a victory out of the jaws of defeat, scoring 15 points in 20 minutes of the 2nd half, only to have those vicious jaws snatch the win right back at the last, most excruciating moment.

This game had a little bit of everything, but what it had way too much of was Me-shawn and his preening, prima donna antics. It began a less than one minute into the game, when after an early Chris Simms INT (his 7th in 2+ gms), the Panthers immediately threw a pass to the disgruntled former Jet, Buc and Cowboy for a crowd-silencing 31-yd TD :59 seconds in. When he added a 4-yd score on a USC-esque end-around 2:00 into the 2nd quarter and proceeded to mock the entirety of the Bay area with his misogynistic faces, howlings and poses, it looked like it would be a long afternoon at the New Sombrero. it's one thing to lose, but it's another thing completely to lose while having your faces rubbed in it by a guy like that.

Ah but wait- could it have been the obvious nose-rubbing antics of Mr. Get Me the Dam Ball himself that awoke the slumbering giant that is the Buccaneer offense? Okay, well not giant, but how about talented-but-underachieving? I think that is highly likely as all of a sudden the Bucs were playing like a house on fire. They had finally broken the TD seal when Simms found Galloway for a 4-yd score 8:03 into the 2nd. But after the break, when you KNOW Chucky ripped into his squad for being embarrassed by a guy despised the league over and a receiver who had been nearly crippled by hamstring injuries the past 2 weeks (WR Steve Smith, 70 yds rec. in 1st half) the offense went downright St. Louis circa 1999.First the Bucs located the keys to their Caddy when Williams went in for a 2 yd TD scamper, then Simms galloped in for a 2 yd score and it was a game again, 21-20 Bucs.

But that is when the good times ceased rolling. Simms was temporarily injured on a late hit and everybody's favorite rookie Bruce the Rocket Gradkowski came in for a few plays. Although he was 1-1 for 16 yds, the offense was out-of sync and the momentum swung back to Carolina after another Kasye GG, this one from 49 yds (field position killed the Bucs all day- they should be nick0named the Tampa Bay 3 & Outs.) After trading FGs the Bucs still had the lead with just over 5:00 minutes to pay- they could smell their first win of the year, and it would be a sweet one.

But it was not to be in this season of discontent on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The Panther mounted one last drive, grabbing one big third down after another, and it was all up to Kasey and his powerful right foot with the clock winding down. Of course he nailed the clutch game winning 46-yd'er, and the Bucs were left with a full season of potentially playing out the string as spoilers.

At least they scored more than 3 points.

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