Now they stand at the crossroads
They were close. That long-awaited first really huge win. Come on face it, you were already imagining the comments on the likes of "Around the Horn" and by Peter King about the Bucs being truly for real weren't you?
And then it all went wrong over 102 yards. A lot can happen in that distance. Linford Christie and Carl Lewis probably don't win so many medals over that additional yardage, Tiger Woods usually gets up and down from there, and Eric Weems broke Buccaneer hearts too.
You can talk about replay interceptions, overturned decisions, huge penalties all you want. What you do have is a 7-5 Tampa Bay team now standing at the edge of their season looking over at the drop.
The next three games are all truly winnable, on the road against Snyder's Self-Imploders in Washington, then home to Detroit and Seattle. And they are all now must win games too if these plucky young Buccaneers are going to continue their unlikely run into the playoffs.
But just how long can they take these body blows from key injuries and now tough losses? Two more starters went out Sunday against the Falcons and both Jeff Faine and Aqib Talib are huge parts of this turnaround from the 3-13 campaign in 2009.
Yes the line stepped up, yes the defensive backfield played beyond itself when all looked lost early in the game against Atlanta. But eventually all these body shots are going to take their effect and the day will come when it all takes it toll and the Bucs lose a game really badly. You just have to hope it is not next weekend in Washington.
Which is why we find ourselves at the crossroads right now. Win in Washington and all becomes right with the world again. A loss in DC, a 7-6 mark and a three-game losing streak, and it all starts going downhill fast and all the incredible good work done so far in 2010 will be quickly forgotten.
Outside of the decision time faced by Raheem Morris' team, what a game! Those 60 minutes had everything from big plays, controversial decisions, massive momemtum swings and tough hard-nosed football. The NFL must have loved their decision to flex the game back to a late start, and how British TV must have regretted going with the Oakland v San Diego game in its place.
And just how much more is in Greg Olson's playbook? Another half-a-dozen pieces of trickery against the Falcons, all of which worked a treat. You wonder what this mad professor of offense is going to come up with next?
There is so much to be proud of from our creamsicle this week, pewter next week warriors. No-one thought the P word was part of the 2010 equation but here we are watching other scores and working out the permutations. It is just that next Sunday could be the go/no go decision as NASA used to call it.
You've been great, enjoy Dire Straits