Passing and putting your way to success
These nerve-wracking sporting events will be the end of me. On the same day the Bucs decided to put their fans through the wringer in terms of last-gasp excitement, the bi-annual sporting extravaganza that is the Ryder Cup was taking place in Kentucky. And for a combination Buc and golf devotee like myself, that was a few hours of sporting excitement that you can only do so often.

Sporting events are all about momentum and turning points. A key putt in golf can equate to a turnover in football. A mistake costing you a hole in the Ryder Cup can equate to a key penalty stalling a drive that your team just has to complete. But the golfing equivalent of what Brian Griese did yesterday .... nope, even I haven’t got an analogy for that one.

Griese had gone so far past his regular pitch count that I could swear I saw Dan Wheeler and JP Howell warming up in the Tampa bullpen. A record number of attempts, the third Buc QB to go over 400 yards, and at the end of 69 minutes of hard-hitting action, one last big completion to Antonio “Not Incomplete this week” Bryant to set up the winning fieldgoal.

And how about some respect for the Buccaneer offensive line? 67 pass attempts and no sacks. Was Chris Hovan playing for the Chicago defense? The Bears had set out their stall to stop the run by playing eight, nine, sometimes even ten men and the proverbial kitchen sink in the box. Hence Earnest Graham went nowhere and Air Gruden was born.

And they did it without Joey Galloway. They did it with a tight end returning from suspension, a group of maligned receivers who couldn’t catch (sorry Maurice Stovall, that really does mean you now), and a line that supposed couldn’t pass block.

The defense looked awesome in the first half with Barrett Ruud pulling off the interception of all times. He could try that play another 100 times and not come up with the ball. But after half time, they made Kyle Orton look like Jim McMahon and Brandon Lloyd looked like Chad Tinky Winky or whatever he calls himself now.

So some concerns linger in terms of defensive pressure up the middle but the Bucs are 2-1 with the Pack coming to town next Sunday. And with the likes of Denver, Seattle and Dallas all on the schedule for next month, this win in Chicago could prove more important than most people realise.

Paul Stewart, TBO.com, September 2008