Talk of the town
Five topics suitable for inane debate on talk radio.
1. History is calling: Technically, it is not over. There is still a scenario where the Bucs make the playoffs. But, just in case, you may want to consider some of history's worst collapses, because the 2008 Bucs could join the '03 Vikings, '02 Saints, '87 Chargers and '78 Redskins as poster children for late-season implosions.
2. A defense fades: Give this defense 23 points or more and it'll usually turn it into a victory. For Monte Kiffin's 13 seasons as defensive coordinator, that has been the reality. The Bucs were 61-16 when scoring 23 or more. In a span of 13 days, the defense has blown two games with at least 23 points.
3. Completely worthless (but cool) trivia: Wanna know the only NFL team never to lose a game in Tampa Bay? Yup, those tradition-laden Chargers. San Diego is now 5-0 here.
4. Defusing the bomb: Hard to fault a guy who is 38, banged up and carrying an offense on his shoulders, but Jeff Garcia overthrew Antonio Bryant on two potential TD passes. The first time, the Bucs settled for a field goal. The second time, they ended up punting and never got back in the game.
5. The importance of being earnest: Earnest Graham was averaging 4.3 yards per carry and the Bucs had their best running attack in years when he went down in mid November. Since then, Warrick Dunn and Cadillac Williams have averaged a meek 3.5 yards.
A list of five
Five signs the Bucs are in trouble.
5. Not one baby named Stylez at bay area hospitals this week.
4. Team motto: If we give up now, the terrorists win.
3. ESPN reporting Jon Gruden may join his son at Carrollwood Day School.
2. Joey Galloway played.
1. Jean Van de Velde gave Sunday's pregame speech.
Five ways to blow a division lead
1. Forget how to tackle: Hard to believe the Bucs were tied with Carolina in the fourth quarter two weeks ago. That was around the time the defense started playing Powder Puff football and DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart ran all the way to first place.
2. Forget how to attack: Inside the red zone in the final two minutes against Atlanta, the Bucs play for a FG and a tie instead of taking a shot at the end zone. They lost in overtime.
3. Forget how to blitz: Philip Rivers is a very good QB. And, somehow, the Bucs made him look even better. The D-line got very little pressure on Rivers, and the coaches did not unleash the hounds when he began carving them up.
4. Forget how to block: In the past three drafts, the Bucs have invested a first-, two second- and a third-round pick on offensive linemen. They also made Jeff Faine the NFL's highest-paid center. And still, this line underwhelms.
5. Forget how to win: First three-game skid in two years.
Five super picks
Checking out the best bets for Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa.
1. Titans: How good must the rest of the team be if Kerry Collins is the QB?
2. Colts: Beaten up a lot of pansies, but would you bet against Peyton Manning?
3. Steelers: Can win any game if the score is kept to 9-6.
4. Some NFC team: Sheesh. AFC may have the five best teams in the NFL.
13. Bucs: In contention for biggest disappointment in franchise history.
Final five words
Anyone know the Heimlich maneuver?