Four game winning streak? Check. Big-time opponent? Check. Blackout lifted? Nope!
Here's something to chew on with your Thanksgiving leftovers.
Despite the league's fourth-best scoring offense, a four-game winning streak and five victories in their last six, playing a division rival with the best record in the NFL and a holiday weekend with cool temperatures in the forecast, the Bucs were unable to reach the 85 percent threshold of general seats sold by Thursday's deadline, meaning Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons will be blacked out locally.
On Monday, the Bucs announced they needed to sell about 7,400 non-premium seats to reach the 85 percent threshold -- or about 44,000 general tickets -- to lift the blackout. Instead, 18 of the past 21 regular season home games will not be shown with a 75-mile radius of the Tampa Bay viewing market.
The Bucs game against the New Orleans Saints Oct. 21 is the only one at Raymond James Stadium that has been televised locally this season. National television games against the Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts at RJS last season sold out in time to lift the blackout.
Bucs owners have tried a variety of ways to entice Bucs fans to RJS by reducing prices on 80 percent of its tickets, offering half-season ticket plans and a 12-month payment option for season-ticket buyers.
The team also was the first in the NFL to take advantage of the NFL's new rule that allows teams to declare a sellout and lift the blackout if 85 percent of all non-premium seats are sold 72 hours before kickoff.
But the Bucs have been unable to increase ticket sales despite a 6-4 record and four-game winning streak under first-year coach Greg Schiano.
Sunday's game is the first this season against NFC South rival Atlanta, which at 9-1 owns the best record in the NFL.