Taking a break from World of Warcraft (lvl 31, btw), I sat down for a must-win by the Bucs. I think I blinked and missed that first touchdown runback that happened on the kickoff for the Saints. The Bucs then answered on the ensuing drive with the help of three different penalties and a great throw and catch to Joey Galloway for the TD.
Then the game went into a practical stalemate. The score didn’t change again until the 3rd quarter when Joey Galloway (remember him from the last touchdown?) ran back a punt 59 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. A couple more exchanges and Michael Pittman busted loose with a 58 yard run that set up a pooch field goal for Jay Taylor.
The Saints now getting desperate, drive down the field but are stopped at the 20 by a quarterback sack, and John Carney floats it wide right.
After the Bucs go 3-and-out, the Saints make it interesting with a 53-yard punt return which was saved from being a touchdown by Jameel Cook. But it gave the Saints 1st-and-goal from the 4 yard line. A fade route to Joe Horn in the corner of the end zone gives the Saints new light.
Next up was an absolutely terrible call by a ref which gave the Saints possession after an alleged fumble (challenged, but lost by Gruden). The Bucs had them back on their haunches at 4th-and-12 at the Bucs 43, but Brooks scrambled 13 yards to get a first down and got to the 2:00 warning. A 22-yard throw and catch to J. Horn puts the Saints at the 8. Two plays later, a slant pass puts the Saints in the end zone to go ahead, 21-17.
A heartbreaker for sure, the weekend before Christmas. The Bucs are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but you might as well write them off in pen, not pencil.
Highlights – Michael Clayton gets his 1000th yard in his rookie career… The Bucs defense contribute big with 7 quarterback sacks and a forced fumble…