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Thomas Bassinger, Times Staff Writer

Thomas Bassinger

It all began late 1991 with a Nintendo controller and a game cartridge that read, in gold block letters, "Tecmo Super Bowl" (Ready! Down! Hut! Hut! Hut! Hut! Hut!). That's when a young Thomas Bassinger discovered the fearsome Ronnie Lott, the dominant QB Eagles and the superhuman Bo Jackson and spent countless hours taking their 8-bit counterparts up and down the football field (Remember Wayne Haddix, Bucs fans?). He's been hooked on football and statistics ever since. Today, he contributes to coverage of the Buccaneers and the NFL for the Tampa Bay Times. He is the author of the Turning Point postgame analysis and studies All-22 game film for the weekly scouting report of the Bucs' upcoming opponent. Follow him on Twitter during the games @tometrics.


  1. NFL overtime proposal takes aim at a problem that doesn't exist


    UPDATE (4 p.m.): Owners have tabled a vote on a proposal that would have put a 10-minute time limit on overtime. It is not clear when they will reconsider the competition committee's recommendation.

    • • •

    NFL owners will vote today on a proposal that would limit overtime during the preseason and regular season to 10 minutes.


    When the Bucs played the Raiders in October, the defense was on the field for more than 90 plays. With less than two minutes left in overtime, it allowed Derek Carr to complete a 41-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Seth Roberts. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. DeSean Jackson did WHAT?! The Bucs receiver's most unbelievable moments


    It'll be another six months before we see how the Buccaneers offense operates with deep threat DeSean Jackson in the fold. Until then, here's a look at some of the most memorable moments of his nine-year career:

    Sept. 7, 2008: Rams vs. Eagles

    During his first nine seasons as Eagles head coach, Andy Reid never started a rookie receiver in an opener. Jackson not only ended that streak but also made an immediate impact by catching six passes for 106 yards in a 38-3 win. He became the eighth rookie since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to rack up 100 receiving yards in his team's first game....

    On the first play of a Monday Night Football game against Washington in 2010, DeSean Jackson caught an 88-yard touchdown pass. LaRon Landry, the safety responsible for covering Jackson, had taunted him before the game. [Associated Press]
  3. WATCH: New Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson's fastest plays of 2016


    You might've heard: DeSean Jackson is fast.

    But do you know how fast?

    Let's say a brown bear approaches you and Jackson. You're dinner. Jackson? He stands a chance.

    The Bucs' preference, of course, is that their new receiver continues to win foot races against beasts that weigh 200 pounds, not 400. That's why they promised this week to pay the free agent at least $20 million over the next two seasons....

    DeSean Jackson beats Leodis McKelvin for an 80-yard touchdown in Washington's 27-22 win over the Eagles in December. [Getty Images]
  4. 2017 NFL free agency: DeSean Jackson's miracle punt return


    Dec. 19, 2010. The Eagles, my hometown team, trailed the Giants 31-10 in the fourth quarter.

    And I felt sad. Very, very sad.

    I hated everything. The Eagles. The Giants. Football. Even the decorations Fox puts on its score bug during Christmastime. Stupid lights....

    In 2010's "Miracle at the New Meadowlands," DeSean Jackson became the first player in NFL history to return a punt for a game-winning touchdown as time expired. [Associated Press]
  5. 2017 NFL free agency: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a kick return problem


    The first time Josh Huff fielded a kickoff for the Buccaneers, the ball hit him in the face.

    Not exactly what Tampa Bay had in mind when it signed the receiver/returner in November.

    Huff went on to average 12 yards on six kick returns, and the team's average fell to an NFL-low 14.6 yards — more than 7 yards below the league mean.

    That's not just a single-season low.

    That's an ALL-TIME low....

    Vikings receiver/returner Cordarrelle Patterson has led the NFL in kick return average in three of the past four seasons. He is set to become a free agent when the league year begins Thursday. [Associated Press]
  6. 2017 NFL free agency: The Bucs have cap space, but here's why they don't have to spend


    DeSean Jackson. Calais Campbell. Tony Jefferson.

    Coming to a stadium near you?

    When the free agent frenzy begins next week, the Bucs have the resources to land those big names. They'll be armed with about $70 million in cap space.

    Here's the thing, though: They don't have to spend any of it. Not a cent....

    [Times photo illustration]
  7. Baseball Prospectus: Moving Evan Longoria to first base 'starting to look inevitable' for Tampa Bay Rays

    The Heater

    It's the most wonderful time of the year.

    Every February, checking the mailbox becomes fun again.

    Most of the time, there's nothing but bills and credit card solicitations. It's like opening a pack of baseball cards and getting Pat Kelly, Jeff Manto and Kurt Manwaring.

    Then, finally, the package arrives. I rip open the bubble wrap, and there it is.

    The Baseball Prospectus annual. Hundreds and hundreds of sweet, glorious pages of player projections, commentary, TAv, FIP and WARP....

    While Evan Longoria enjoyed a power surge last season, his defense is in decline, Baseball Prospectus says. [ANDRES LEIVA | Times
  8. Three Buccaneers make Pro Football Focus' Top 101 of 2016


    Pro Football Focus has named its top 101 players of the 2016 season, and three Buccaneers made the cut.

    Receiver Mike Evans ranks 12th, cornerback Brent Grimes ranks 43rd and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy ranks 73rd.

    None of the three was ranked in 2015's list. Doug Martin was the only Bucs player included.

    Evans is PFF's best receiver after Julio Jones of the Falcons. Grimes is the site's eighth-ranked cornerback, and McCoy is the 10th-ranked interior defensive lineman....

    In 2016, Bucs receiver Mike Evans caught 96 of his 173 targets for 1,321 yards and 12 touchdowns. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  9. What the Patriots' Super Bowl comeback has to do with Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo


    Down 25 points in Super Bowl LI, the Patriots needed a series of best-case scenarios to climb back into the game. Even after they cut the Falcons' lead to 16, they still needed two touchdowns and two two-point conversions just to tie.

    All the while, they had to hold Atlanta scoreless....

    Thanks in part to Stephen Gostkowski's mortar kicks, Patriots opponents had the worst average starting field position in the NFL during the regular season. [Getty Images]
  10. Matt Ryan vs. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback showdown in Super Bowl history. Will it live up to the hype?


    You wanted Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady. You didn't get it.

    Instead, you got something better: Matt Ryan vs. Tom Brady.

    In fact, by one measure, it's the greatest quarterback showdown in Super Bowl history. Yes, even better than Joe Montana vs. Dan Marino.

    That measure is a modified version of yards per pass attempt. Adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A) is similar to yards per attempt except that it rewards quarterbacks for touchdowns and penalizes them for interceptions and sacks....

    [Getty Images]
  11. One realistic way the Bucs could mirror the Super Bowl-bound Falcons in 2017


    Taylor Gabriel raced to the pylon and then angled to the middle of the field. As he crossed the 25, he looked back at Matt Ryan.

    The ball was in the air.

    Nearing the goal line, Gabriel extended his arms, secured the pass and fell into the end zone like a golf ball into a cup.


    Four days later, Gabriel charged toward Bucs cornerback Brent Grimes. Twenty yards into his route, he cut to the sideline. Grimes slipped, allowing Gabriel to separate and make the 26-yard catch. He went on to cap the drive with a 9-yard rushing touchdown off a jet sweep....

    The Falcons claimed receiver Taylor Gabriel a week before the season started. He gained 16.4 yards per catch this season, seventh most in the NFL. [Associated Press]
  12. Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota: Mariota won 2016. Here's why.


    Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are defying history.

    Often, for every star quarterback taken atop the draft, there has been a flop. A Bledsoe and a Mirer. A Manning and a Leaf. A McNabb and a Couch. A Luck and a Griffin.

    After two seasons, Winston and Mariota are poised to become the franchise quarterbacks the Bucs and Titans hoped they would be. In 2015, they proved that they were, at worst, capable starters that possessed the necessary drive to evolve into long-term fixtures. In 2016, they led their teams from 1-3 starts to the brink of playoff contention. Tampa Bay finished with its first winning season since 2010; Tennessee its first since 2011....

    [Winston: LOREN ELLIOTT | Times, Mariota: Getty Images]
  13. Falcons-Buccaneers Turning Point, Week 9: Dirk Koetter's questionable clock management


    William Gholston's third-down sack of Matt Ryan at the end of the second quarter Thursday presented the Buccaneers an opportunity.

    Instead, coach Dirk Koetter, in possession of two timeouts, let 28 seconds roll off the clock and took his team into halftime down 20-14.

    In a 43-28 home loss to the Falcons that was much worse than the score indicates, a few seconds might seem irrelevant....

    [Getty Images]
  14. Breaking down Bucs' loss to Falcons by the numbers



    Receiving yards for Julio Jones against Bucs in 10 career games; the most he has against any other opponent is 883 (Panthers).


    Yards gained per catch for Jones on Thursday. He caught eight passes for 111 yards and a TD. He came in averaging 20 yards per catch, the most in his career.


    Passer rating for Matt Ryan against Bucs on Thursday, his best of the season. A perfect rating is 158.3....

    Julio Jones and the Falcons ended a three-game losing streak to the Bucs. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  15. Falcons-Buccaneers Scouting Report, Week 9: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Atlanta's deep passing attack


    Four days ago, Derek Carr picked apart the Buccaneers defense to become the 10th player in NFL history to pass for 500 yards and four touchdowns. Tonight on Thursday Night Football, Tampa Bay will host Matt Ryan, the ninth player to join that club.

    RELATED STORY: No home-field advantage for Bucs vs. Falcons on 'Thursday Night Football'...

    Since 2011, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown 155 touchdown passes, sixth-most in the NFL. Julio Jones has caught 37 of them. [Associated Press]