1. Hats off to quarterback Josh Freeman for the career-best performance he had in the near comeback against the Saints. For the third week in a row, Freeman elevated his play and put up some big numbers. His passing totals have gone from 299 yards and one TD against Washington, to 328 yards and three TDs against Kansas City, and then to 420 yards and three TDs against New Orleans. But is Freeman finally becoming the franchise signal caller everyone hopes he can be or is he just putting up big numbers against putrid defenses? Look at where those teams rank in pass defense: Redskins (32nd), Chiefs (12th), Saints (30th). Freeman can't control who he plays and he is just doing his job. He is putting the team on his shoulders when they need him to and he is putting the Bucs in a position to win each and every week. But it will be interesting to see how Freeman performs this week in primetime against the Vikings, who have a top 10 pass defense.
2. Buccaneers101.com understands that it was the correct call to waive off Mike Williams' game-tying catch at the end of regulation, but who in the hell came up with that rule? It is ok to push and interfere with a receiver when the quarterback is out of the pocket, but not ok to do so when he is in the pocket? So then why do defensive backs get called for pass interference or illegal contact with a quarterback runs a bootleg or play-action pass? The rule makes no sense, and it is a real shame that the Bucs fought hard to come back only to lose in heartbreaking fashion because Williams couldn't help getting push out of bounds by a Saints defender before coming back in and making a huge catch in the back of the end zone. The reception rules in the NFL are confusing and seem to be enforced inconsistently from week-to-week and season-to-season. They need to be cleaned up and enforced with more regularity so next time something like this happens fans don't think their team just tied the game when they actually didn't.
3. It's time to end the whole LeGarette Blount as a goal line back experiment. News flash! It isn't working. Three times Blount got the ball from the Saints' 1-yard line and three times Blount was stuffed at the line of scrimmage. Not only that, but Blount didn't follow his fullback into the hole on any of the three carries. This isn't the first time Blount has failed to score from the goal line. Two seasons ago, Blount got two cracks from the Falcons' 1 and got knocked back both times. He also didn't follow his lead blocker on those runs. Blount lacks the vision and tip-toes around too much in the backfield. He isn't patient and doesn't hit the correct holes. Blount finished with five carries for -2 yards. Blount's role moving forward isn't clear, but he certainly isn't taking Doug Martin's job anytime soon after such a woeful performance.
4. A lot of fans and media outlets want to dog wide receiver Vincent Jackson after getting caught from behind by safety Malcolm Jenkins and failing to score on a 95-yard catch. Cut Jackson some slack, he was dealing with a calf injury during the week that limited him in practice. Nobody in the Tampa Bay area wanted Jackson to score on that play, which was the longest in Bucs' history, more than Jackson himself. It was a pivotal turning point in the game and Jackson would like to have that play back. But we think many people are losing sight of how great Jackson played and how amazing his performance almost was. He finished with seven catches for 216 yards, which was a personal best and Tampa Bay franchise record, and one touchdown. However, Jackson almost had two more scores. One on that long catch-and-run, and another near the end of regulation when Jackson missed getting both of his feet in bounds by about an inch or so. After failing to score on both of those plays, Jackson may be ridiculed but he shouldn't be. He has been worth every penny that the Bucs spent on him in free agency.
5. Another big game against a big-time pocket passer and the Bucs' pass rush failed to show up. It seemed as though Tampa Bay's pass rushers were allergic to quarterback Drew Brees. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy made a nice play at the beginning of the game by tipping a pass that would be intercepted by Ronde Barber, but that was pretty much it from the Bucs' front four. Sure, there were a couple of nice tackles in the backfield on ball carriers. However, the Bucs couldn't get to Brees if their lives depended on it. Maybe getting Bowers back soon will give the Bucs a much needed boost in the pass rush department because they are struggling right now, and won't win many games with the way they played on Sunday.
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