TAMPA — There have been games where QB Josh Freeman has thrown more completions for more yards and racked up more touchdowns than he did Sunday in the Bucs' 38-35 victory over Arizona.
And the second-year pro has had other fourth-quarter comebacks (five more, to be exact).
But offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Freeman has never looked better for Tampa Bay than he did in Arizona. Freeman went 18-of-25 for 278 yards and a touchdown, but the numbers didn't tell the whole story.
"I felt like Josh probably played his best game as a Buc," Olson said. "He went 18-for-25 for (72) percent completion (percentage), but after watching the film, really he had four drops; it could have very easily been a 23-of-25 game."
Of course, Olson said they would have preferred a theoretical 23-of-26, if Freeman had thrown the ball away instead of taking a late fourth-quarter sack. But Olson said that the way Freeman handled the loud crowd, and adverse circumstances, made this game special.
"It was really a game where he was hitting hands and was very accurate, and to me, he was in the flow of the game and the game came to him (Sunday)," Olson said. "To see him do that on the road and … in a hostile environment where he's having to make a lot of calls at the line of scrimmage and walk to the line of scrimmage and communicate to everybody. It's really a tribute to him and what his preparation has been like."
No Moss: Though WR Randy Moss surprisingly became available Monday afternoon, the Bucs weren't planning to pursue him.
Moss was waived Monday by the Vikings, who acquired him just three weeks earlier from the Patriots. He can be claimed by any team through 4 p.m. today, as long as the club takes on the remainder of his $6.4 million base salary. If unclaimed, Moss would be an unrestricted free agent.
But coach Raheem Morris said that while Moss is "one of the best wideouts to ever play this game," they like the young receivers they have.
"We have six young dynamic wideouts that we're building for the future. We love what we've got," Morris said. "We probably won't require Randy Moss' services right now."
Middle men: Though DTs Roy Miller and Gerald McCoy have not picked up a lot of sacks, Morris said they've been making more impact the past couple of weeks in ways that don't show up on stat sheets.
He pointed out how pressure by Miller and McCoy led to plays such as interceptions by LB Geno Hayes and LB Barrett Ruud.
"McCoy and Roy, the last two weeks, have played their most disruptive games," Morris said. "They're really getting after it as far as what's causing some of these interceptions, and what's causing some of these good plays for us, with Geno and Barrett now, and all these people."
Run this way: The Bucs were encouraged with how they were able to contain the Cardinals' running game, holding them to 100 yards (nearly 50 below Tampa Bay's average, which ranks 30th in the NFL).
"It's about execution," Hayes said. "We didn't do anything fancy. They came out in basic formations, and we just manned up."
The Bucs will need to do the same against the Falcons, who rank second in the NFC in rushing yards per game (137.4).
"This should be a fun game," DE Stylez G. White said. "We expect them to run; that's what they do."
Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.