TAMPA — The last time the Bucs won a football game was two years ago. Actually, before Sunday, it was Oct. 1. But in the NFL, when you go more than a month without a victory, it always feels worse than it really is. Five-game losing streaks are rare in the NFL. To win a game after that long of a drought calls for parades and champagne. At the very least, it calls for some smiles and loud music in the locker room. So that was the scene in the home locker room on Sunday following Tampa Bay's 15-10 victory against the Jets. With that in mind, Times columnist Tom Jones hands out his grades for Sunday's game.
If this game was a Broadway play, there wouldn't be much hope of its run lasting more than a day or two. Put it this way: this wasn't "Hamilton''. And with career journeymen Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh McCown being the starting quarterbacks, it was like showing up for "Hamilton'' and finding out Lin-Manuel Miranda is out and has been replaced by Scott Baio. A win is a win and the Bucs aren't going to throw it back. But entertainment value? GRADE: D.
SERVING UP SOMETHING SPECIAL
Each season, the Bucs have a special moment around Veterans Day when the armed services swear in a group of young people at halftime. It's a powerful moment, particularly when you see just how young these kids look. And, in many ways, they are still just kids. But they are taking the courageous step of fighting for our country and fighting for our freedom. Bravo! In addition, the scoreboard showed the military ties of the Bucs players. It's something that can be overdone if not careful, but the Bucs made the recognition a touching moment and showed that there certainly are more important matters than the record of the local football team. GRADE: A.
JUST FOR KICKS
We could sit here and still criticize the Bucs for picking Roberto Aguayo with a second-round draft choice in 2016. (Although, to be fair, I was all-in with the pick at the time.) Or we can look at the bright side and commend the Bucs and general manager Jason Licht for moving on from Aguayo and then moving on from the guy who replaced Aguayo (Nick Folk). They finally got it right with Patrick Murray. He was perfect on four kicks Sunday: field goals of 29, 49 and 37 yards and an extra point. A miss on any of those kicks could have greatly altered the game. Now Tampa Bay has the comfort of not worrying if its kicker can make routine kicks. GRADE: A.
GIVE THEM A HAND
The official paid attendance was 57,911. Not sure there were actually that many in the stadium. And of those who were, many were Jets fans. But give the Bucs fans credit. They were loud. They were passionate. They were involved. We talk about how hard it is for the players to get motivated when they are stumbling through a five-game losing streak with a 2-6 record. But it isn't easy on the fans, especially those who have been sticking it out with a team that hasn't made the playoffs in a decade. Yet they did their part. GRADE: A.
GOING OUT WITH A BANG
More than an hour after the game, the pirate ship in the end zone was blasting off the cannons. The offense has been so lousy this season that the cannons haven't gotten much usage so far. Those explosives must have been coming up on their expiration date and the fire marshal must be coming this week for inspection. Either that, or the guy who sets those things off was going to finally have some fun, doggone it! GRADE: C.