TAMPA — Early in the fourth quarter Sunday, the Bucs led New Orleans 20-7, had intercepted the Saints' Drew Brees three times and were stomping their way to a season-high rushing game — and a probable third victory — to close out 2014.
Of course, by winning, the Bucs had a lot to lose, starting with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft and presumably their choice of the best quarterbacks in college football — Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Florida State's Jameis Winston....
Bucs general manager Jason Licht has watched Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston each play several times this season. But he will attend the Rose Bowl Jan. 1 to see how each reacts to the big stage in the college football playoff semifinal.
Although it hasn't been determined, Licht said there is a chance that Bucs coach Lovie Smith also will attend the game. If the Bucs (2-13) lose to the New Orleans Saints today, they will own the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft and can select no lower than second overall....
TAMPA — Bucs coach Lovie Smith was asked last week if he wished the season could continue. He wasn't going to lie. He can't wait for it to end.
"When you're 2-13 … the sooner we end it, the quicker we start the next one, as I see it," he said. "I'm looking forward to that next stage."
The Bucs have a final chance to avoid losing every game at home this season and going winless in the NFC South when they host the Saints today at Raymond James Stadium....
TAMPA — Louis Murphy is the son of a preacher, but his faith was tested when the Bucs released him just one day before the regular season.
Murphy kept working, and after being re-signed by Tampa Bay three weeks later he had a 41-yard reception to set up the winning touchdown in the final seconds against the Steelers.
The Bucs are 2-13 and Murphy could've been a free agent after the season. But the former Lakewood High and Florida Gators receiver showed his belief in the hometown team by signing a three-year extension Friday....
Louis Murphy is the son of a preacher, but his faith was tested when the Bucs released him just one day before the start of the regular season.
Murphy kept working, and after being re-signed by the team three weeks later, had a 41-yard reception to set up the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Bucs are 2-13 entering Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints and Murphy could've become a free agent after the season. But this time, the former Lakewood High and Florida Gators receiver is showing his belief in the Bucs by signing a three-year extension Friday....
Bucs linebacker Lavonte David was left off the Pro Bowl team again this year but was named an alternate....
Josh McCown will be 36 on the 4th of July. He is 1-10 as a starter this season with 10 touchdowns and 13 interceptions for the Bucs, who most likely will strongly consider selecting a quarterback with the first or second overall pick....
TAMPA — Gerald McCoy said it never gets old being named to the Pro Bowl and was thrilled when he received the honor for the third straight year on Tuesday. But the Bucs' defensive tackle is tired of it being the only postseason game he's invited to play in.
"We're going to get this thing turned around," McCoy said. "But really, what's going to have to happen is we're going to have to decide in the locker room that it's time to change the culture. We can't allow this to keep happening. That's five years straight for me I've missed the postseason. Quite frankly, I'm tired of dealing with it. We're all going to have to pick it up as a unit, as a team and get this thing rolling."...
Gerald McCoy said it never gets old being named to the Pro Bowl and was thrilled when he received the honor for the third straight year on Tuesday. But the Bucs’ defensive tackle is tired of it being the only post-season game he’s invited to play in.
“We’re going to get this thing turned around,’’ McCoy said. “But really, what’s going to have to happen is we’re going to have to decide in the locker room that it’s time to change the culture. We can’t allow this to keep happening. That’s five years straight for me I’ve missed the post-season. Quite frankly, I’m tired of dealing with it. We’re all going to have to pick it up as a unit, as a team and get this thing rolling.’’...
TAMPA — The Bucs are not on the clock yet for the NFL draft, but it's fair to say they're counting down to the end of 2014 like Ryan Seacrest in Times Square.
Every thorn has its rose. For Bucs coach Lovie Smith, at 2-13, it's the realization his team could own the first or second pick in each round of the NFL draft next spring.
A loss to New Orleans on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium would clinch the top spot based on the worst won-loss record of opponents' strength of schedule. Even if the Bucs defeat the Saints, Tampa Bay should net no worse than the No. 2 overall pick....
TAMPA — Any Green Bay Packers fan worth his Instagram photo account left Sunday's 20-3 win over the Buccaneers with a few new tan lines and some terrific shots of his Christmas vacation to Florida.
See the largest Raymond James Stadium crowd (64,247) in two years, two-thirds of it wearing cheeseheads and turning the new Sombrero into a Lambeau Field south. You can't really blame Bucs fans for selling their tickets rather than watch a 2-13 team while the Pack clinched a playoff spot in their yard....
TAMPA — Vincent Jackson was named the Bucs' man of the year for the second straight season for his help with military families. He even published a book he wrote, Danny Dogtags, about the challenges children face while relatives are deployed in military service.
The 10th-year receiver also has been a good soldier on the field, never complaining when rookie Mike Evans started getting more passes aimed in his direction. Jackson has provided a great example on and off the field for Evans to follow....
TAMPA — Demar Dotson has nimble feet, long arms and good strength, all important traits to play left tackle.
Protecting the quarterback's blind side is among the most important jobs on any football team. Next to a great edge rusher or the quarterback, it's also the hardest to adequately fill. It's not easy blocking the best pass rushers who line up on the right and whip around the corner like thoroughbreds on the backstretch at Churchill Downs....