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Fennelly: On the road, signs of Bucs emerging as playoff team are evident

Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (28) dances to "Too Much Sauce" before the start of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times

Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (28) dances to "Too Much Sauce" before the start of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016. WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

They sure sounded like a playoff team to me.

When the reception was good, that is.

Listened to the Bucs on the car radio Sunday.

A fresh perspective. Old school.

Put it down in the box score as a 227-mile gain, Tampa to Tallahassee, I-75 North and I-10 West, on the way to talk to former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden.

The Drive.

Bucs-Saints on the radio.

What a treat.

No fair checking the phone.

Take it as it comes, signal or no signal.

My only company, off and on, were Bucs announcer Gene Deckerhoff and his faithful sidekick, all-around good guy and former Bucs tight end Dave Moore.

I love Geno. I wish he could do play-by-play of Christmas.

Yeah, even if he mispronounced some of the presents.

My Bucs journey bounced from WDAE 620 AM to 95.3 FM to 900 AM in Ocala to 1230 AM in Gainesville to the Saints broadcast out of New Orleans.

No, it's not the road to the Super Bowl, but there were audible sounds of a playoff team.

There were signs of something special.

And other signs.

Peace Tree Trading Post. Touchdown Doug Martin. River Ratz Café. Florida Citrus Center T-shirts 3 for $12 Beautiful Shell Gifts. Interception Vernon Hargreaves. XMart Adult Super Center Exit Now Then Right. Field Goal Roberto Aguayo. Jesus Is The Only Way. Garlits Drag Racing Museum. Interception Brent Grimes. Florida's Largest Fireworks! Airboat Rides Exit Now Then Left. Field Goal Roberto Aguayo. Jesus Is Still The Answer. You Are Listening to Buccaneers Football.

Well, not the whole way. Things got scratchy around Gainesville. Bad hand-off from Ocala. Missed one Bucs goal line stand and then that Saints touchdown getting overturned.

Sometimes you can just hear a defense over the radio.

Around Lake City, the signal returned, and Gene and Dave came back like home.

Then they disappeared again.

Disney Gifts Information. Pecan Logs. Mystery. The unknown. Boot Factory Outlet.

Gene! Dave!

A playoff season seemingly on the line.

620 cut back in on I-10.

Saints had the ball on their own 3-yard line. Last chance.

The radio faded out again. Worked the dial like a safecracker.

Old school.

A mix of three stations at once.

Easy listening Spanish, something about a diet, someone talking about Trump or Putin, didn't know which one. Fuzzy.

Suddenly, just inside the Madison County line, 870 out of New Orleans came in. Clear.

Keith Tandy interception. Ball game.

It's December and the Bucs are charging.

Charging? They're being flexed.

It's easy to hang on every word at the moment.

Cowboys next Sunday. Marquee matchup. National television. Prime time. Hasn't been a show like it for the Bucs in forever. Everyone will be watching.

It's just a matter of deciding where Gene and Dave and I will drive.

Zip Line Rides Exit Now Then Left.

Fennelly: On the road, signs of Bucs emerging as playoff team are evident 12/12/16 [Last modified: Monday, December 12, 2016 8:41am]
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