Looking back at Sunday's Bucs-Cowboys game.
Numbers of the day
9-8-23: Watching Sunday's game, didn't you get the feeling the Bucs were purposely trying not to score? From the start of the third quarter until the two-minute warning, the Bucs had nine first-down plays. Despite trailing that entire time, the Bucs ran the ball on eight of them. And it wasn't as if the Bucs were having success or wearing down the Cowboys. Those eight runs produced just 23 yards, the longest being only 5 yards.
Think about that last drive when the Bucs were down by two scores with less than three minutes left and they started with a running play. Can you imagine Drew Brees handing off the ball in that situation? Tony Romo? Eli or Peyton Manning? Any decent QB in football? Even Tim Tebow?
There are only two explanations:
1. Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan gets a bonus for every running play.
2. Sullivan and coach Greg Schiano don't trust Josh Freeman as far as they can, well, throw him.
Best opening act
In 16 games last season, the Bucs scored on the opening possession only once: a touchdown in a 41-14 loss to the Jaguars. This season, the Bucs have scored on their opening possession in all three games, with two touchdowns and a field goal. Now, if they could just figure out how to score the rest of the game.
Worst officiating (continued)
I hate to keep picking on the replacement officials, but they keep finding new ways to bungle calls and, potentially, games. One blown call Sunday cost the Bucs a touchdown. A quick whistle blew dead what would have been a Bucs fumble return for a score, prohibiting what would have given the Bucs a 14-10 lead in the third quarter.
Both teams had beefs with the officials, and the Bucs can hardly pin the loss on a referee when they treated the end zone as if was a nuclear waste dump. Still, can we please get the real officials back?
The best of Troy Aikman
Three quotes about the Bucs offense from Fox analyst Troy Aikman during Sunday's game:
"There's just not a lot of creativity on offense."
"They have shown nothing on offense."
And, the best for last: "I don't know what they are trying to do."
Three things that popped into my head
1. The Cowboys turned the ball over three times, committed 13 penalties for 105 yards, rushed for 38 yards, allowed four sacks and scored only one touchdown. If you can't beat them on a day like that, when can you beat them?
2. Even more disturbing than the Bucs' insistence on running was their inability to do so. The Bucs rushed for only 75 yards against a Cowboys team that allowed 182 yards rushing a week ago to Seattle.
3. The bad news: The Bucs could be 3-0 but are 1-2. The good news: Seeing as how they don't appear to be crazy about their current quarterback, they're in the early running for USC's Matt Barkley.
We're not going to discuss kneel-downs for another week, are we?