For 56 minutes, 27 seconds, he looked like the next big thing.
In the end, sadly, Mike Glennon looked like the same old stuff.
There for a while, the kid was going to be popular, all right. Everyone was going to talk about how poised Glennon looked, and how patient. Everyone was going to agree he was the perfect cure for Chaos Week, the week that Josh Freeman was not just benched but banished.
And then the last 3½ minutes happened.
Suddenly, Glennon had rookie written all over him.
There in the waning minutes of the Bucs' 13-10 loss to Arizona, you could see the 23-year-old unravel. There is no kinder way to say it: Glennon had the ball in his hands, and the game, and he threw it to Arizona.
This happens to rookies in the NFL. They can roll along smoothly for a long time, but they are too raw for the final moments. Of Glennon's last six passes, two were intercepted. Of his last five possessions, he also lost a fumble and held the ball too long on a sack.
It's a shame, because for most of the day Glennon was pretty good. On a day when he had no running game, Glennon completed 24 of 43 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown. The Bucs led 10-0 going into the fourth quarter, and it was 10-3 inside of the four-minute mark.
He lost it. And the Bucs lost it.
Of course they did. It was the third time in four weeks that the Bucs have found a way to lose despite leading in the final heartbeats of a game. If that tells you nothing else, it says this: There are more problems going on around here than the quarterback.
There are too many 2-yard passes on third and 3, too many runs to nowhere because the opposition crowds the box, and too many penalties along the way.
No wonder this team looked to a rookie to make a difference. There simply hasn't been enough rhythm, enough explosion, enough points to this team under Freeman.
(Freeman, by the way, was shipped upstairs to a skybox, not even allowed to dress out as the team's third quarterback. It seemed like a clumsy and harsh way to deal with a player who had quarterbacked this team for 60 games. It also seemed like the latest step in closing the door in Freeman's face, which the franchise seems more than ready to do. These days, the Bucs seem more than a little ticked off at Freeman.)
And so the season is now in the hands of Glennon, a third-round draft pick from North Carolina State who had never thrown to an actual starter before Sunday. Say this for the kid: He certainly started well.
After a quarter, Glennon's quarterback rating was 116. By halftime, it was 88. After three quarters, it was 79.9. And at the final gun, it was a Freeman-esque 55.7.
"I thought Mike did a good job of commanding control of the game, the tempo, everything," coach Greg Schiano said. "I thought he read things out relatively well. He spread the ball 'round to nine different guys, three of the backs, three of the receivers, tight ends. At the end of the day, we had two costly turnovers. None of the good is only one guy, and none of the bad is only one guy."
Stay updated on the Buccaneers
Subscribe to our free Bucs RedZone newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
Oh, no one is suggesting that Glennon was the only smudge in the game plan. Heck, the reason he was throwing there at the end was that Tampa Bay couldn't run at all. Of Doug Martin's 27 carries, he had 14 that were 2 yards or less, and nine were for negative yardage.
The Bucs might as well get used to it. How else would you expect the team's upcoming opponents to play against Tampa Bay?
First impressions? Glennon spreads the ball around. His medium-range fastball is good. And he should get better.
The negatives? He doesn't move well in the pocket. He didn't throw well deep. His yards per attempt was only 4.48. And, of course, the interceptions.
"It's just an unfortunate way to end the game," Glennon said. "The defense played great the whole game. At the end, we just can't make that throw. It's definitely a learning experience but a tough one to swallow."
Even now, Glennon will tell you that he wasn't getting greedy, that Vincent Jackson was open over the middle.
"I just had to put the ball out about a foot in front of Vincent," he said.
According to Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, Glennon tipped the defense on the play.
"I had my eyes in the backfield, and I saw him looking my way," Peterson said. "He's a young quarterback, so he's going to telegraph his throws. Once Vincent made his break, I kind of undercut it."
Glennon will learn. Maybe. He'll get better. Maybe. The rest of this season is his to show what he has.
Either he'll get it, or he'll end up in a skybox of his own.