The long view of the Bucs season, through kaleidoscope eyes

The Bucs try to rebound from a 5-11 season in 2017 starting Sunday at 1 p.m. when they open at New Orleans. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
The Bucs try to rebound from a 5-11 season in 2017 starting Sunday at 1 p.m. when they open at New Orleans. JIM DAMASKE | Times
Published September 9 2018

Picture yourself in a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies. Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly, the Bucs with kaleidoscope eyes.

Week 1

Bucs spring upset in season opener at New Orleans. Ryan Fitzpatrick throws for three touchdowns, and new defensive line gets to Saints quarterback Drew Brees for four sacks. Other news: North Korea halts production of nuclear weapons, opens three candy factories.

Week 2

In home opener, Bucs stun Super Bowl champion Eagles. Rookie back Ronald Jones gallops for 114 yards, Chris Godwin returns punt for touchdown. Other news: President Trump, in address to nation, pardons Colin Kaepernick.

Week 6

Dirk Koetter's Bucs put NFL on notice with win at Atlanta. Jameis Winston continues stirring comeback, throws for 330 yards, defense forces four turnovers. Chandler Catanzaro hits winning 61-yard field goal as time expires. Other news: National initiative to put "soda in all the water fountains" gains traction in Congress.

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Week 7

Browns fall under Bucs tracks in Tampa Bay's 45-10 win. Bucs' league-leading defense picks off Cleveland rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield three times, holds Browns to 145 yards. Other news: Putin admits Russia is bad, tampered with U.S. elections — with Crooked Hillary. Clinton suspended three games.

Week 9

Bucs express keeps rolling, improves to 8-0, crushes Cam Newton and Panthers at Carolina. Jones, league's leading rusher, rumbles for 204 yards. Other news: Trump, Pelosi don work britches, help build the wall.

Week 12

Winston carried from field after leading Bucs to 11-0 start with win over 49ers. Lavonte David and NFC defensive player of the week Vernon Hargreaves pace defense. 25,000 meet Bucs charter upon return to Tampa. Other news: Environmental groups confess there's no global warning, say "it's just more hot out."

Week 15

Winston hits Adam Humphries with winning pass in overtime as NFL-best Bucs improve to 14-0. 1972 Miami Dolphins put champagne away again. Other news: Trump reinstates Winston's security clearance.

Week 17

At sold-out Raymond James Stadium, Bucs rally to beat Falcons to complete perfect 16-0 season. Gerald McCoy becomes team's first double-digit sack leader since Simeon Rice. Mike Evans completes 2,000-yard, 18-TD season. Koetter rewarded with new contract after game. Other news: Earth signs extension with solar system, Trump admits to collusion, Mueller says "Gotcha! I'm just kidding!" They laugh, hug, watch large military parade together.

Playoffs, division round

After a bye, Bucs topple Aaron Rodgers and Packers. Other news: Ground broken on Jameis Winston Women's Outreach Center.

NFC title game

Bucs complete remarkable worst-to-first turnaround and beat Saints to earn franchise's first trip to Super Bowl since 2002 season. Tampa Bay fans pour into streets, call to Glazers, who come to balcony, wave, announce preseason games are free next season.

Super Bowl LIII

They said it couldn't be done, but NFL MVP Jameis Winston and the Bucs …

Sorry. That's when I woke up. In an Uber.

Contact Martin Fennelly at or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly.