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January 2, 2011 @ 6:47 pm
Current rating: 3.00 Stars/1 Votes

Race To 10? Bucs' Mission Accomplished

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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Rebounding from a 3-13 season in 2009, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had an improbable 2010 regular season and have achieved the 10 wins that Raheem Morris set as a team goal, thanks to a 23-13 win at New Orleans.
Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris’ “Race to 10” wins is over. Mission accomplished – thanks to Tampa Bay’s 23-13 win at New Orleans.

Just a year after suffering through the growing pains of a 3-13, rebuilding season, Tampa Bay concluded the 2010 regular season with a 10-6 record when most media pundits had predicted double-digit losses for the Bucs. Not only is that the single greatest turnaround in team history – beating the turnaround from 5-11 to 11-5 from 2004 to 2005 – the Buccaneers have become the first team to start 10 rookies and have a winning season since the 1987 strike season, and by beating the 11-5 Saints they have claimed a victory over a team with a winning record for the first and only time in 2010.

“Extra game or not, it’s definitely a feel-good story to come in here and get your 10th win,” Morris said. “This young football team is getting better and getting hungry, playing together and fighting through adversity today against a tough Saints team.

“This team has just begun dealing with the longevity of winning.”

Once again, Tampa Bay got great play from its rookies, including wide receiver Mike Williams, who caught his team-record 11th touchdown pass on Sunday, and running back LeGarrette Blount, who rushed for 66 yards on 19 carries to finish the season with 1,007 yards rushing. Williams fell just short of 1,000 yards on the season with 964 yards receiving, but Blount was able to top 1,000 yards on the ground.

Blount becomes the most recent 1,000-yard rusher for the Bucs since Cadillac Williams accomplished the feat with 1,178 yards and six touchdowns on 290 carries. What’s even more impressive is the fact that Blount averaged an amazing 5.0 yards per carry on 201 totes this year.

“It’s impressive, man,” Morris said. “The young man bounced back from a tough [ending to his] collegiate career. To come here and get 1,000 yards after being cut and to come to the Buccaneers and be one of our feature running backs, you can’t say enough good things about him and his behavior and what he’s done for us. The lift – that’s a beautiful thing, man. That’s awesome. I’m just happy for those guys that fought so hard to accomplish their goals and to get that 10th win.”

Another impressive rookie that contributed to Tampa Bay’s victory was wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, who caught four passes for 65 yards and his first NFL touchdown while teaming with Maurice Stovall, who had two catches for 45 yards, to replace rookie Arrelious Benn, who tore a knee ligament last week against Seattle and is out for the year.

The Bucs also received another brilliant game from quarterback Josh Freeman, who came off a career-high five-touchdown effort last week against Seattle to complete 21-of-26 passes (80.7 percent) for 255 yards and two touchdowns at New Orleans, while outdueling Pro Bowler Drew Brees. Brees completed 22-of-38 passes for 196 yards with one touchdown pass and one interception. Brees also fumbled the ball when sacked by defensive end Alex Magee and Tampa Bay won the turnover battle 3-2 and turned two of those takeaways into 14 points.

The Saints were playing without several key offensive weapons, including wide receiver Marques Colston (knee), tight end Jeremy Shockey (groin) and running back Pierre Thomas (ankle). Brees was pulled early in the fourth quarter once the Bucs had a seven-point lead and the Atlanta Falcons had secured homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with a 31-10 win over Atlanta.

“You’ve got to find a way to slow him down and we were able to get to him a couple times,” Morris said of Brees. “We were able to frustrate him a little bit with some of our defenses. We were able to make some plays down the field.”

Tampa Bay scored on its opening possession with Freeman starting off hitting 3-of-4 passes for 33 yards. Blount also had a 16-yard carry, but the drive stalled at the New Orleans 26 where Connor Barth was called on to make a 43-yard field goal. With 9:58 left in the first quarter, Tampa Bay led 3-0.

New Orleans answered on its first drive, marching 78 yards in 13 plays. Brees was 5-of-10 for 51 yards and converted to third downs with a 10-yard pass to Reggie Bush and an 11-yard pass to tight end Jimmy Graham. On third-and-goal at the Tampa Bay 4, Brees found the 6-foot-6 Graham for a 4-yard touchdown over cornerback Ronde Barber. With 4:41 left in the first quarter, the Saints led 7-3.

The Saints tried to pad their lead on their next drive. The big play was a 19-yard pass play to Bush on third-and-8 to the Tampa Bay 36. Seven plays later on third-and-1 from the Tampa Bay 3, Julius Jones was stuffed for a loss by defensive end Tim Crowder, and middle linebacker Barrett Ruud forced a fumble that was recovered by three technique tackle Frank Okam at the New Orleans 4.

Tampa Bay would take advantage of that turnover and turn it into points on the ensuing possession. The Bucs would drive 96 yards for a touchdown with Freeman going 7-of-8 passing for 77 yards. Freeman hit Stovall for gains of seven and 38 yards to get deep into New Orleans territory. On fourth-and-2, Barth’s 37-yard field goal was good, but nullified by an offside penalty on cornerback Tracy Porter gave Tampa Bay a first down at the New Orleans 14. After a 12-yard pass to Preston Parker, Freeman hit Briscoe in the back of the end zone with a 2-yard touchdown pass. With 6:40 remaining in the second quarter, the Bucs led 10-7.

After Freeman fumbled the ball back to New Orleans at the Saints 48 with 1:49 left in the second quarter, Brees drove his team down to the Tampa Bay 25, but threw an interception to rookie safety Larry Asante, who was helping to cover wide receiver Lance Moore, right before halftime.

New Orleans took the opening possession of the second half and marched 43 yards on 10 plays before having to settle for a 45-yard Hartley field goal. With 10:30 left in the third quarter, the game was tied at 10-10.

Tampa Bay answered with a field goal of its next possession. A 69-yard kickoff return by Micheal Spurlock set the Bucs up at the New Orleans 33. The drive fizzled after five plays at the Saints’ 15, and Barth’s 32-yard field goal gave the Bucs a 13-10 lead with 8:01 left in the third quarter.

After Brees was sacked by Magee, who forced a fumble that was recovered by Crowder, the Bucs took over at the New Orleans 38. Freeman scrambled for 11 yards on first down. The Bucs went for it on fourth-and-1 at the New Orleans 18 and Freeman hit Mike Williams for an 18-yard touchdown in the right corner of the end zone over Greer. With 2:09 left in the third quarter, Tampa Bay took a 20-10 lead.

New Orleans responded to Tampa Bay’s score on its next possession. A 15-yard facemask penalty by nose tackle Roy Miller, a 23-yard run and a 20-yard catch by Bush drove New Orleans into Tampa Bay territory. On third-and-5 from the Bucs’ 27, Brees found Adrian Arrington for a 12-yard gain down to the 15-yard line. But a 3-yard loss by Robert Meachem on an end around, and a holding penalty on tackle Jon Stinchcomb forced another Hartley field goal – this one from 38 yards. With 11:17 left in the fourth quarter, Tampa Bay’s lead was trimmed to 20-13.

The Bucs added a field goal in the fourth quarter to pad their lead. On third-and-6 from the Tampa Bay 14, Freeman hit a wide-open Briscoe for a 54-yard pass down to the New Orleans 32. Four plays later, Barth’s 48-yard field goal was good to give Tampa Bay a 23-13 lead with 4:01 left.

Bucs wide receiver Mike Williams came into the game with 924 yards receiving and finished with four catches for 40 yards. He ended the season with 964 yards receiving. Williams did catch another touchdown and is now alone at the top of Tampa Bay’s receiving records with 11 TDs in a single season, which is the most by any Bucs player. … Tampa Bay rookie running back LeGarrette Blount came into Sunday’s game with 941 yards rushing and finished with 66 yards on 19 carries. That gives him 1007 yards on 201 carries (5.0 avg.) for the season. … Bucs running back Kregg Lumpkin and fullback Erik Lorig both caught their first pass as a Buccaneer. Lumpkin hauled in a 12-yarder in the first quarter, while Lorig had a 10-yard catch. … Tampa Bay rookie receiver Dezmon Briscoe caught his first NFL touchdown pass, a 2-yarder, in the second quarter. He finished the game with a career-high four catches for 65 yards. … Bucs rookie safety Larry Asante recorded his first career interception when he picked off Drew Brees at the Tampa Bay 4 right before halftime. … Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber started his 183rd consecutive game, which is the most ever by a cornerback in NFL history. … Tampa Bay outgained New Orleans 317-305 yards. … Bucs middle linebacker Barrett Ruud led the team with 10 tackles. … Tampa Bay weakside linebacker Geno Hayes recorded a sack against New Orleans, which was his fourth in the last four weeks. … Bucs nose tackle Roy Miller had his first sack of the season. … The Bucs are 10-of-14 on fourth down conversions this year, including an 18-yard touchdown on fourth-and-1 in the third quarter against the Saints on Sunday.

The announced Tampa Bay starting lineup for Sunday’s game was as follows:

WR Mike Williams
LT Donald Penn
LG Ted Larsen
C Jeremy Zuttah
RG Derek Hardman
RT James Lee
TE John Gilmore
WR Maurice Stovall
RB LeGarrette Blount
FB Erik Lorig
QB Josh Freeman

LE Tim Crowder
DT Frank Okam
DT Roy Miller
RE Michael Bennett
WLB Geno Hayes
MLB Barrett Ruud
SLB Adam Hayward
LCB E.J. Biggers
NCB Ronde Barber
FS Corey Lynch
SS Sean Jones

Here is a list of Tampa Bay players that did play in Sunday’s game:

QB Rudy Carpenter
FB Earnest Graham
WR Sammie Stroughter
TE Nathan Overbay
OT Will Barker
DE George Johnson
DT Doug Worthington
CB D.J. Johnson

Bucs cornerback E.J. Biggers was injured on a punt return with 4:40 left in the second quarter. He returned in the second half.

Tampa Bay wide receiver Maurice Stovall suffered an undisclosed injury in the second quarter and did not return.

Bucs cornerback Elbert Mack injured his neck with 2:02 left in the third quarter covering a kickoff.

The announced attendance for the Buccaneers vs. Saints game at the Superdome was 70,068. The game was played indoors.

The Buccaneers (10-6) season will conclude unless the Packers and New York Giants both lose on Sunday afternoon.
Last modified on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 09:33

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  • avatar

    Just so proud of these guys. Coach Morris should be Coach of the Year and Dominick should be GM of the Year. I honestly was willing to accept 6-10 as a big improvement this season and what a surprise to see them go 10-6. We are only a player or two short of being in the top tier of the NFL. This means that we might just pick most our players in the draft based on "highest rated". I am convinced that Morris and Dominick can make anything happen with this team.
  • avatar

    where is BUCFAN47
  • avatar

    Great season. Raheem and his staff deserve a lot of credit for keeping this young team focused and prepared week in and week out. It's diificult to win in the NFL, especially with a young team and so many injurires, but they never let up. Congratulations to the Players, coaches and managemant for a great sesaon and thanks from this Buc fan.
  • avatar

    What a season. The best part of this to me is that heading to the offseason we have a lot of pieces in place already to continue this ride. Can't wait till draft day now :)
  • avatar

    Congratulations to the BUCS organization and players and coaches for a job well done. Thanks to Mark D. and his staff and the scouts who are just teriffic!!!!!! Can't wait wait for next year. GO BUCS!!!!!!!!
  • avatar

    What a great season. The team was fun to watch this year. I'm looking forward to next year and trying to catch as many games as I can. Look out NFL, the "BUCS" are back.
  • avatar

    In the words of the first Bucs Pro Bowl player, NT Dave Pear, "Whoda thunk it?" Gee, I sure would like to read a BF47 article of his assessment of the owners who are" too cheap". the GM who is "too inexperienced", the coach who is "too young" and the QB who is "too inaccurate."
  • avatar

    It's exciting to be a Bucs fan again. Kudos to Dominick and Morris, who were very creative in their personel decisions and almost all of them worked out. They hung their hats on the Success of Freeman and it was a gamble, and WOW it paid off. Most of us thought 6, 7 or 8 wins would be a wildly successful season for Morris, and yet he kept us in the race to the playoffs up until the very end. I use to say we would never have a team full of players of the quality we had during the Dungy and Gruden yrs and look : two yrs later we have a roster full of young rookies and 2nd yr players who are marching towards stardom. I have to give a tip of the hat to the Glazers who took a lot of criticism for their handling of everything from the soccer team to their lack of spending and insight for hiring a young inexperienced coach and manager, and look at them now. They have a 10 and 6 team built on the Draft, a young coach and manager who are the envy of the League, and the only thing missing is a fan base who will come out and support the team week in and week out. Something tells me that may change next year. I pray that Barber returns and we continue to get good production out of Winslow. I look forward to renewing my Season tickets and watching these young Bucs win the NFC south.
  • avatar

    Thanks for the great season Bucs!! Although we're not in the playoffs, I feel it was a success, too many plesant surprises to count. Josh Freeman is the man, 25 TDs vs. 6 INTs and the guy is only 22, these Bucs will be a force in years to come. They have a strong nucleus of young talent that got better and better every week. Give Raheem Morris credit, the guy is the ultimate players coach and a great motivator. The Bucs put up a 10-6 record despite having the leagues youngest team, lowest payroll and I think 10 or 11 rookie staters. Not to mention a plethora of key players on the injured reserve. My hats off to Mark Dominik, Raheem Morris, his coaching staff and all the players for their great work this season. It was truly special! Go Bucs!! Fire them cannons!!!
  • avatar

  • avatar

    Motown Kitties, poor play calling and bad zebras(that we got an apology from the NFL) kept us from being 11-5 and in the playoffs, but you can not have ever guessed we would be 10-6!!!! Great year, proud to be a season ticket holder and already paying for tickets for next season. Hoping the NFL and Players can come to an agreement soon and not take 2011 away from us, because this team is Fun to watch!!!! I can't wait to see who we will draft!!!! GO BUCS!!!!
  • avatar

    What a great turnaround. Excited about the future...but damn that Detroit game!
  • avatar

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  • avatar

    Ruud was a beast when we had a respectable dline..............although he does look a bit slower than he did in the past
  • avatar

  • avatar

    great year, compared to last year's debacle. However, I think the idea behind "race to 10" was to make the playoffs. 3 years in a row without making the playoffs is getting old.
  • avatar

    Great year guys! I'm proud to be a Buc's fan.
  • avatar

    The future is so bright it's blinding here in Tampa. Can't wait for this 6 to 8 year ride we're about to go on. Cheers Buc Nation
  • avatar

    proud of our bucs...looking forward to the future...
  • avatar

    Proud to be a Buccaneers Fan. I've enjoyed this season. Congratulations to the players, coaches and the front office !!! GO BUCS !!!
  • avatar

    very enjoyable season to be a Bucs fan with lots of exciting young players to look forward to next season. Well done team!
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