1. After each having a terrible turnover that led to points and nearly cost Tampa Bay the victory, it was nice to see quarterback Josh Freeman and running back Doug Martin bounce back late in game when the team needed them the most. While up 10-0, Freeman threw a horrible pick-six to Captain Munnerlyn that completely swung momentum in Carolina's favor. In the fourth quarter, Martin had a fumble right at the goal line while trying to give the Bucs a late lead. The Panthers scored a few plays later to go up 21-10. But that would be the last time Carolina had any success because Freeman and Martin lit it up late in the game and led the Bucs on a crazy, improbable comeback. The Bucs may look back at this win as a major turning point in the season and they have their two young stars to thank for propelling the team to a much-needed victory as they fight for a playoff spot.
2. When wide receiver Vincent Jackson came down with that wild touchdown catch over three defenders at the end game, Buccaneers 101 couldn't help but think how influential he's been since coming to Tampa Bay. Aside from Peyton Manning, no free agent acquisition has been as good as Jackson, who has 42 receptions for 863 yards and seven touchdowns. Jackson is playing as well as any wide out in football and he's been a big-time weapon for the offense. Not only has he helped out Freeman by being a big, explosive target, Jackson has also opened things up in the run game, and he's taken pressure off Mike Williams on the other side. Jackson has been some of the best money ever spent by Tampa Bay and it would not be 6-4 right now without him.
3. Not many people realize this but defensive end Michael Bennett, who had another sack on Sunday to bring his season total to 7.0, is on pace to get double-digit sacks this year. If he accomplishes that feat, he would be the first Buccaneer to reach at least 10 sacks since defensive end Simeon Rice had 14.0 QB takedowns in 2005. Bennett's solid push rush has been much needed this season, especially since DE Adrian Clayborn, who was last season's sack leader, went out for the season back in Week 3. The 27-year old Bennett will be a free agent at season's end so Buccaneers 101 expects re-signing him quickly will be one of general manager Mark Dominik's top priorities. He's a proven pass rusher off the edge and should be even better next season when Clayborn comes back from injury.
4. Speaking of Martin earlier, guess what? The rookie leads all NFL players in offensive yards from scrimmage. Martin has 1,000 rushing yards on 197 carries (5.1 average) and 319 receiving yards on 27 receptions. That's a grand total of 1,319 yards in just 10 games! That is more elite backs like Minnesota's Adrian Peterson (1,283 total yards), Seattle's Marshawn Lynch (1,142), Houston's Arian Foster (1,056 total yards), and Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy (985 total yards) That is video-game like production from Martin, who's been just as good if not better than advertised. Martin is not only in the running for the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, but he needs to be in the conversation for the Offensive Player of the Year Award if he keeps it up. It's still early in his career but aside from Peterson and Foster, there may not be a better running back in the NFL than Martin.
5. How nice was it to see tight end Dallas Clark come down with that game-winning touchdown catch in overtime? It must have been an awesome feeling for Clark, who has been somewhat of an afterthought on this offense. The former Pro Bowler, who once caught 100 passes in a season, had his best game as a Buc on Sunday with seven catches for 58 yards. The Bucs are better on offense when Clark is involved and we expect his production to go up in the final six games of the season.
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