Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Jones' Two Cents: A look at Tampa Bay Buccaneers' win over Carolina Panthers

Looking back at the best and worst from Sunday's Bucs-Panthers game.

Best kid

Was it rookie Doug Martin with his 95 yards rushing and 118 yards of total offense? Was it rookie safety Mark Barron with his snot-knocking tackle of receiver Steve Smith? Was it second-year safety Ahmad Black with his interception? Was it rookie linebacker Lavonte David with his team-leading six tackles? All were sensational, but I still consider Gerald McCoy a kid, and the third-year defensive tackle had the type of game that makes you want to believe he has turned a corner. He was constantly in the Carolina backfield, recorded a sack and was a roadblock that created several wrong-way plays for the Panthers. You know, he kind of looked like a No. 3 overall draft pick.

Glass half-full note

Bucs coach Greg Schiano did something Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, Tom Landry, Bill Walsh and Bill Parcells didn't do. He won his first NFL game. (Then again, Richard Williamson won his first NFL game, too.)

Glass half-empty note

The Bucs have started 1-0 14 other times in their history and went on to have a winning record seven times.

Most encouraging number

The Bucs had three sacks, and they would have had more had they been playing against any quarterback besides the slippery Cam Newton. If they can average three sacks a game, they would end up with 48, one fewer than they had the past two seasons combined.

Most forgotten

Get up from your chair, open your fridge and check the milk carton. Is LeGarrette Blount's picture on it? We knew Doug Martin would be the Bucs' featured running back, but we expected to see more from Blount. He had three carries, all in the second quarter. On one he made his patented Edwin Moses leap over a would-be tackler, limped off the field because of a cramp and wasn't heard from again. Forget sharing the load. Martin is the man.

Three things that popped into my head

1. That empty chair Clint Eastwood talked to at the Republican National Convention? Was that supposed to be President Obama or Cam Newton? That empty chair had only 4 fewer rushing yards than Newton, who was held to single digits in rushing for the first time in his pro career.

2. Speaking of the president, maybe he should get a game ball for Sunday's victory. The Panthers fled Charlotte last week because of the Democratic National Convention and practiced in Bradenton. I don't know what's in the water down there, but perhaps the Bucs can convince the Saints and Falcons to work out there, too.

3. Soak this feeling in because the Bucs' next opponent, the Giants, are in a crummy mood after dropping their opener to the Cowboys and will have 10 days to hear from the Big Apple tabloids about how lousy they are.

Final thought

I'll leave that to Bucs tackle Jeremy Trueblood: "This is not a one-game season."

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