Saturday, December 16, 2017
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
McCoy, David, Hargreaves all out Monday against Falcons

McCoy, David, Hargreaves all out Monday against Falcons

As if containing Julio Jones and the Falcons offense weren't challenging enough, the Bucs will try to so Monday night without perhaps their top two defensive players in DT Gerald McCoy and LB Lavonte David.Bucs coach Dirk Koetter on Saturday ruled bo...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bucs’ Ward glad to be back, eager for rematch with brother Terron

Bucs’ Ward glad to be back, eager for rematch with brother Terron

Bucs safety T.J. Ward will make a healthy return Monday after missing two games with a concussion, and it's also a chance to face his brother Terron, a running back with the Falcons."Our whole family's going to be there, rooting us on," T.J. said aft...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Jones: Tony Dungy didn’t leave the Bucs on the clearance rack

Jones: Tony Dungy didn’t leave the Bucs on the clearance rack

It is and always will be the greatest debate in Tampa Bay sports history.Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy?You don’t even need to say anything more than that. Bucs fans already know what you’re talking about.Gruden or Dungy?Who was most responsible for the on...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy? Why the debate rages on

Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy? Why the debate rages on

TAMPA — Bucs coach Jon Gruden did not win the Super Bowl with Tony Dungy’s team. Don’t believe me? Ask Dungy. "It wasn’t. They did a great job. They took it and tweaked it," Dungy said. "The same way I got a great (Colts) tea...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Staff writers pick sides (kind of) in the Dungy-Gruden debate

Staff writers pick sides (kind of) in the Dungy-Gruden debate

Even with — perhaps especially with —Jon Gruden set to be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor Monday night, Tampa Bay’s Great Sports Debate hasn’t abated. Who deserves more credit for the biggest moment in Tampa Bay sports history — the Bucs’ Super ...
Published: 12/16/17
Nobody has Jameis Winston’s back more than Dirk Koetter, offensive coordinator Todd Monken insists

Nobody has Jameis Winston’s back more than Dirk Koetter, offensive coordinator Todd Monken insists

Nobody is a bigger supporter of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston than head coach Dirk Koetter.That was the passionate message that offensive coordinator/receivers coach Todd Monken unloaded at his news conference Friday, saying that reports that Winst...
Published: 12/15/17
Updated: 12/16/17
Bucs journal: Adarius Glanton’s experience could come in handy for ailing LB corps

Bucs journal: Adarius Glanton’s experience could come in handy for ailing LB corps

TAMPA — The Bucs’ linebacker depth was tested during the first five weeks of the season, when Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander missed a combined six games with injuries.And now, as David is again sidelined by a hamstring injury, the experience gained...
Published: 12/15/17
Cannon Fodder podcast: Let’s revisit Monday night games in Bucs’ past

Cannon Fodder podcast: Let’s revisit Monday night games in Bucs’ past

Times Bucs writer Greg Auman has injury updates on Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy and a nostalgic trip through the Bucs’ history on Monday night, including the current three-game win streak and yes, that infamous 2003 Colts game where the Bucs were u...
Published: 12/15/17
Why the Bucs need a Dungy more than a Gruden

Why the Bucs need a Dungy more than a Gruden

TAMPA — The worst week of Dirk Koetter’s life rolls on.It’s Gruden Week, just like Shark Week, only with smaller teeth and a bigger playbook. It’s the big build-up to Gruden’s induction into the Buc Ring of Honor this Monday night, with the accompany...
Published: 12/15/17
Rick and Tom podcast: Is Dirk Koetter fighting for his job?

Rick and Tom podcast: Is Dirk Koetter fighting for his job?

In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones discuss whether Dirk Koetter is fighting for his job the final three weeks of season. Is there a rift between him and Jameis Winston? Has Winston shown enough progress this year? And who are the Glaz...
Published: 12/15/17