Saturday, April 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Around the NFL

Power rankings

1. texans 2. falcons

3. ravens 4. 49ers

5. chargers

Best bet

Steelers (1-2) over Eagles (3-1)

The Steelers, at home and in danger of falling to 1-3, will be boosted by the return of two defensive stars, S Troy Polamalu and LB James Harrison.

Milestone watch

History likely will be made at the Superdome today. The Saints' Drew Brees seeks to throw a touchdown for the 48th consecutive regular-season game, breaking the record set by Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas from 1957-60.

It's amazing the record has stood for this long considering how pass-happy the league has become. Unitas was certainly ahead of his time. SI.com's Peter King pointed out the best offense in the Western Conference in 1960 (Green Bay) completed 137 passes all season.

Unitas' son Joe wrote Brees a letter last week congratulating him and wishing him luck: "My father always said that records were meant to be broken. I know that if he was still with us, he would wish you the best as well."

Quote of the week

"I love anonymity. I tell my kids all the time when they say, 'Daddy, we don't ever see you on TV.' (I say) 'You don't ever want to see me on TV. That's a good thing.' "

Danny Crossman, Lions special teams coordinator on coming under scrutiny after his unit became the first team since 1940 to allow a kickoff return for a touchdown and a punt return for a touchdown in the same game in consecutive weeks

Times wires, USA Today and the Detroit Free Press contributed to this report.

Tom Brady remembers the first time he went head to head with Peyton Manning. It was 2001. Brady, then an overlooked sixth-round pick a year earlier out of Michigan, made his first NFL start in place of the injured Drew Bledsoe. Brady walked up to Manning during warmups.

"He said, 'Hey, I'm Peyton Manning,' " the Patriots quarterback recalled last week. "I was like, 'Of course, I know that.' "

There's no longer any introduction needed between the good friends — and future Hall of Famers — who have had several unforgettable battles among their 12 previous meetings. (Brady has won eight.)

Today in Foxborough, Manning, 36, will continue his career comeback with the Broncos for what potentially could be the final showdown with Brady, 35. Barring a playoff rematch or the teams finishing in the same place in the standings, they aren't set to play again until 2015. So savor this one.

"Manning and Brady are the quarterbacks that have defined a generation," wrote Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post: " They made 300-yard passing games and 65 percent completion rates the gold standard rather than rare feats. Their rivalry in classic games between Indianapolis and New England could fill a chapter of storied NFL history."

Manning admits they've turned into the "elder statesmen." After all, his younger brother, Eli, has two Super Bowl rings, and RG3 is all the rage.

But Manning and Brady aren't slowing down, each completing more than 64 percent of his passes with a rating of at least 96. The gunslingers are not what they used to be, but if history is an indicator, one thing is for certain about today, Patriots DT Vince Wilfork said: "It's going to be a pretty good show."

Relevant Rams

In beating the previously undefeated Cardinals on Thursday, the Rams (3-2) are over .500 for the first time in 93 games, since 4-3 Nov. 4, 2006. They've done so under new coach Jeff Fisher buoyed by a defensive front that racked up nine sacks against Arizona.

Make no mistake, the Rams aren't world-beaters.

But as NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal points out, "They're relevant again. … Getting to the playoffs may even be a stretch, but Fisher has the Rams fighting again. They compete each week. Considering where this franchise is coming from, that's an enormous amount of progress in five weeks."

Time for Tebow?

We knew this was coming. Ever since the Jets traded for Gators legend Tim Tebow in the offseason, it was just a matter of time before the Big Apple called for the world's most famous backup quarterback.

Jets coach Rex Ryan said they're sticking with the struggling Mark Sanchez, even coming off a 34-0 home loss to San Francisco. But Foxsports.com's Jen Floyd Engel believes Tebow Time is now.

"Not because of God or faith or any intangibles attributed to him," she wrote. "Not for any reason except the New York Jets are drowning and need a kick in the butt. This is not about belief at all. This is about doubt — doubt about whether the Mark Sanchez who helped the Jets to back-to-back AFC championship games is ever coming back or if he really ever existed at all."

 
Comments
Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

TAMPA — Shaquem Griffin wakes up knowing each day will be better than the last and barely able to wait until tomorrow."It's just a whirlwind,'' Griffin said.On Thursday, he will walk the red carpet with his family, including his twin brother, S...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs not listening to outsiders, but expectations remain high for 2018

Bucs not listening to outsiders, but expectations remain high for 2018

TAMPA —Wait 'til this year seems to be the refrain at One Buc Place, even though the team was strangled by expectations in 2017. But a solid offseason that has already brought a rebuilt defensive line, new center and place-kicker has renewed th...
Updated: 4 hours ago
NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

TAMPA — The NFL draft is one big game of Liar's Poker. Deal me out.Even the guys with a seat at the table don't know when someone is bluffing.Bucs general manager Jason Licht knows that the team's No. 7 overall pick this year will be affected b...
Published: 04/20/18
Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

We've seen Jameis Winston and Mike Evans bonding this offseason, going to Texas A&M pro day together, among other events. The two Bucs stars and their significant others double-dated Thursday night, getting courtside seats to watch the Miami Heat in ...
Published: 04/20/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

The NFL did the Bucs no favors with their 2018 schedule, Rick Stroud says, making them open at New Orleans, followed by home games against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Plus, linebacker Kendall Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle, p...
Published: 04/20/18
Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

TAMPA — How good can the Bucs be in 2018? Fans will get a good sense in the first three weeks, as Tampa Bay opens the year with three of its toughest games, all against reigning division champions. The Bucs open 2018 in New Orleans on Sept. 9 ...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

TAMPA – Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle he suffered in a car accident in Louisiana last week, putting his status for the start of the season in question.Beckwith was passenger in car driven by former L...
Published: 04/19/18
Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

The 2018 NFL schedule won't be released until 8 p.m. tonight, but the Bucs' eight home games were posted early — and presumably accidentally — on the team's site, showing what would be a daunting start to the upcoming season.Multiple outl...
Published: 04/19/18
Is Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick a first-round fit for the Bucs?

Is Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick a first-round fit for the Bucs?

Minkah FitzpatrickPosition: SafetyCollege: AlabamaHeight/Weight: 6-1, 201Draft projection: First roundWhy Fitzpatrick makes sense for the BucsOne of the Bucs' biggest needs is to improve their secondary. Fitzpatrick is a playmaker, arguably the best ...
Published: 04/17/18
Jameis Winston set to make $21 million in 2019 as Bucs pick up his option

Jameis Winston set to make $21 million in 2019 as Bucs pick up his option

TAMPA — Jameis Winston is headed for a big pay day after this season, whether he gets a contract extension or not.The Bucs on Tuesday picked up the fifth-year option on Winston's rookie contract worth $20.9 million for 2019. The deal is not gua...
Published: 04/17/18