Friday, November 24, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Shorthanded Bucs rally to beat Chargers for fourth straight win

RECOMMENDED READING


SAN DIEGO — The hit came on their third play.

Receiver Cecil Shorts ran a little square-in and Chargers safety Jahleel Addae went low, the way the new rules have given defensive backs the right to knee-cap receivers like loan sharks. Aim high, and they face a penalty for a blow to a defenseless pass catcher and a hefty fine.

Shorts somehow made the catch for 14 yards, but the Bucs believe he probably tore every ligament and dislocated his right knee.

As trainers attended to him, immobilizing his leg, the entire Bucs team left the bench to greet him.

Shorts, in unthinkable pain, pumped his fists and said, "C'mon, let's go!'

"I don't know how he was conscious after that," said tight end Cameron Brate. "That was one of the most gruesome hits I've ever seen."

Two plays earlier, tight end Luke Stocker reinjured his ankle and was lost for the game. Later in the first half, receiver Adam Humphries was struck in the helmet while hanging on to a pass. He went into the league's concussion protocol and did not return.

And so it went. The Bucs' 28-21 win Sunday over the Chargers was a testament to their resiliency. All the tape and ice and braces and the gristle held the team together for the fourth straight week and left another opponent hurting.

The Bucs overcame a 14-7 deficit and an anemic rushing attack to improve to 7-5 and own a share of the NFC South lead with Atlanta. If the playoffs started today, Tampa Bay would be the No. 2 wild card.

"We just did a good job of hanging in there," coach Dirk Koetter said. "It's a team game and that's what makes it great. You've got 53 guys, 46 that are active on game day, and you've got to go in there and play. Proud of (safety) Keith Tandy and (receiver) Freddie (Martino). As coaches, sometimes we get nervous about putting guys in.

"I just think we're one of those teams that's starting to believe. It's crazy what confidence can do when you start making plays, it seems to build on it."

The game, played before a large contingent of Bucs fans who made the trip to Qualcomm Stadium, featured six lead changes and huge plays from backups and rookies.

Rookie Vernon Hargreaves tipped a pass that linebacker Lavonte David returned 15 yards for a touchdown to give the Bucs a 17-14 lead in the third quarter. Jameis Winston, who passed for 280 yards and a touchdown to Brate, completed throws to nine different receivers. Seldom-used Martino had four catches for 56 yards.

Tandy, starting for the injured Chris Conte, leaped high and intercepted a pass to Chargers receiver Dontrelle Inman in the end zone. Jacquizz Rodgers, who missed four games, rushed three times for a first time to salt the game away.

So what has inspired the Bucs to post a 5-1 road record?

"Shorts went down, Humph went down, (tight end) Brandon Myers did an awesome job," Brate said. "That's the kind of team we have.''

After the game, receiver Russell Shepard yelled on the way to the locker room, "They have to respect us now. We're in it!"

Winston pumped the brakes on the Bucs' euphoria.

"It feels great, but we have not arrived," Winston said. "We're playing one game at time. We have a tough Saints opponent next week, and we have to take advantage of that opportunity. We cannot stop now. We have to keep climbing, and I believe we will because we're playing so well right now, and I think this win was inspiring."

     
             
Comments
Bucs players, coaches say they cherish getting game balls for special feats

Bucs players, coaches say they cherish getting game balls for special feats

TAMPA ó In the jubilant moments after a Bucs win, Dirk Koetter will sometimes ask for a game-used ball from his equipment staff, hold it high in the locker room and present it to the player who was most crucial to the victory.NFL players can ask for ...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Koetter says Bucs not distracted by Jameis Winstonís off-field issue

The Bucs are 1-0 since news broke last Friday of Jameis Winston being accused by an Uber driver of groping her during a ride in March of 2016.That's really all the evidence coach Dirk Koetter needs to say the issue has not been a distraction to the t...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/23/17
Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Happy Turkey Day!Today is a day of tradition.The Macyís parade. Turkey and stuffing. The Lions and Cowboys.And our annual "Turkey of the Year.ííItís a tradition started by my former colleague at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the brilliant columnist P...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/23/17
Bucs journal: Gerald McCoy says team has not turned the corner yet

Bucs journal: Gerald McCoy says team has not turned the corner yet

TAMPA ó The Bucs have some positive momentum with back-to-back wins, but DT Gerald McCoy said itís too soon to say his 4-6 team has turned a corner."We havenít turned a corner yet," McCoy said Wednesday, preparing for Sundayís game at Atlanta. "Itís ...
Published: 11/22/17
McCoy is only Bucs player in Pro Bowl voting top 10s

McCoy is only Bucs player in Pro Bowl voting top 10s

The Bucs aren't faring well in early Pro Bowl fan voting, with DT Gerald McCoy as the only Tampa Bay player ranking in the top 10 at his position.McCoy, seeking his sixth straight Pro Bowl selection, ranks seventh among NFL defensive tackles, one wee...
Published: 11/22/17
NFL Week 12: Tampa Bay Times staff picks

NFL Week 12: Tampa Bay Times staff picks

Happy Thanksgiving! It's already week 12 of the NFL season, and the football feast is set to begin. It all starts at at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, when the Lions try to win their fifth straight Thanksgiving Day game against a Minnesota team out to bec...
Published: 11/22/17
Cannon Fodder podcast: Examining the Bucsí Hall of Fame semifinalists

Cannon Fodder podcast: Examining the Bucsí Hall of Fame semifinalists

Times Bucs writer Greg Auman takes a closer look at the three former Bucs who are semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.He also looks at the constant churn on the Bucsí practice squad and why Julio Jonesí stats have dropped off this season,...
Published: 11/22/17
Bucsí Barber, Lynch, Rice among Hall of Fame semifinalists

Bucsí Barber, Lynch, Rice among Hall of Fame semifinalists

Ronde Barber, John Lynch and Simeon Rice — teammates on the Bucs' 2002 Super Bowl championship team — are among the 27 semifinalists to be considered for this year's Pro Football Hall of Fame class.Lynch is a semifinalist for the sixth st...
Published: 11/22/17
Rick and Tom podcast: USF vs UCF is the biggest game in Florida this weekend

Rick and Tom podcast: USF vs UCF is the biggest game in Florida this weekend

Itís a Thanksgiving Football Wednesday as Rick Stroud and Tom Jones preview the Bucs-Falcons game, USF-UCF, Alabama-Auburn, Ohio State-Michigan and more.The guys agree on the Bucs game outcome with Rick saying they canít win. They also agree that Tha...
Published: 11/22/17
Bucs-Falcons: Itís time to start believing Miko Grimes

Bucs-Falcons: Itís time to start believing Miko Grimes

TAMPA ó The most valuable player for the Bucs is Brent Grimes.It felt odd typing that, but itís time to say it.In Grimesí two seasons in Tampa Bay, the Bucs havenít won a game without him. This season they are 4-3 when he plays, 0-3 when he doesnít.H...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17