So we need to win at 1
So the Bucs need to win at 1:00 on the road, then watch two 4:00 games to determine if we’ll go to the playoffs or not. Long time Bucs fans will find these terms pretty familiar!
Seems like just yesterday the Bucs were 9-6 and needing a win over the Oakland Raiders, then have to watch the 4 O’clock Dallas at Philadelphia game and root for the Eagles. All Bucs fans could do was talk about “How am I gonna root FOR the Eagles”? Didn’t really have to worry about that did ya?
No I’m talking about older period Bucs fans than that, circa Tony Dungy’s 3rd season; 1998. The scene-Tampa Bay lost a week 16 heartbreaker at Washington that would have gotten the Bucs a better shot at the dance, but a late game surge by the Redskins and the Bucs unable to hold onto a 16-7 lead, and next thing we knew we were looking forward to a week 17 showdown in Cincinnati against the Bengals.
The Bucs then needed to win in the cold, then watch the late games for the NY Giants to win, and San Diego to beat Arizona!
The Bucs took care of their end of the deal, blasting the Bengals 35-0 in still the biggest road shutout in Bucs history. The Giants beat the Eagles 20-10, but there was no way lowly San Diego would beat the Cardinals with Jake Plummer, Simeon Rice and Michael Pittman could they? With Arizona in possession and up 13-6 with 2:00 to go in the game, the Bucs hearts were on their last beats, until it happened.
Craig Whelihan on 4th and 20 with :22 seconds to go throws a touchdown pass to tie the game! The impossible had happened. It was Bucs destiny to make the playoffs for the second year. Somehow fate would excuse the Bucs turnovers at the wrong time, lack of turnovers, also at the wrong time, it would be our destiny!
The next week, the Cardinals beat the Cowboys in the first round of the playoffs because Chris Jacke kicked a 52-yard FG with no time left as the Chargers left 14 seconds too many on the clock when they scored. That Jake the Snake got us twice you see! 7th round pick, thanks a lot Bruce Allen.
So 1998 saw a week 17 in which 2 of the 3 things needed to happen actually did. Sometimes 3 of 3 is a little too much to ask. Can the Bucs beat the Saints? Why not, they have 2 of the last 3 years. Can the Redskins beat the Giants? Tom Coughlin better worry, he wouldn’t look anywhere near as good on Monday Night Football.
What about Chicago beating Green Bay, any chance for the Windy City Bears to come out victorious? They do have a better record, and a defense that can take on Aaron Rodgers, so sure, why not.
The problem is, all three things have to happen, and that’s where 1998 taught me, true miracles like that happen once in a lifetime. Still, like a decade ago, I will watch, and wait. I get the feeling this team will, like that Dilfer led pewter team, at least keep my final football Sunday interesting until the end of the day!
And if the Bucs do win but don’t quite make the cut, I just may watch the Sunday night game and hope for a Seattle win so I can write Roger Goodell some hate mail for why a team we beat 38-15 is hosting a playoff game with a 7-9 record while our 10-6 team is getting ready for ….a strike?