These are the facts.

A win Sunday against the Saints will make the Bucs 3-1 in the second quarter of the season and 3-5 overall.

Cool.

It will put a reasonable dent in New Orleans’ lead at the top of the NFC South and give the Bucs their first victory against a division opponent this season.

Nice.

More important, a win Sunday will prove unequivocally that the Bucs aren’t to be written off.

At least mathematically.

Well, facts be damned!

This is the reality. A season ticket holder has a right to stop accepting the idea of the team playing well and falling short. The Pewter Partners, those would be the money men that keep ownership smiling, have the right to refuse to settle for the adage that it’s okay to take a dirty win, as long as it’s a win in every four or five games, or so.

Enough of the promises and hopes.

Enough of the excuses and explanations.

The time has come for a butt whipping.

As in the one the Bucs have to place soundly on the backside of their next opponent.

Look, this is not about the Saints, or the NFC South, or anyone else for that matter. This is about a team which provided two losing seasons after the Super Bowl, bounced back impressively last year, and seems headed for a record of the same gastro reflux as in 2003 and 2004.

This is it. The Bucs need to smash some one into oblivion. They need a convincing victory. No more 62-yard miracles. No more two defensive touchdown days proving barely enough. No more games without an offensive touchdown.

And please, no more dropped balls, fumbles, missed assignments and missed tackles.

Okay, maybe that’s asking too much.

It’s not to say the Bucs have to become the Chicago Bears or the Indianapolis Colts and look like a 7-0 team. No one is asking them to come out and hang 30 on an opponent, or shut out another.

That’s not going to happen. Obviously.

But, remember how abysmal the Raiders looked at the start of the season? Well, they too are 2-5. Heck, at least the Raiders held onto their defensive touchdown effort to put up a convincing win over the struggling Steelers on Sunday.

Yes Bucs fans, you have the same record as the Raiders.

This is what the Bucs need. They need to prove to themselves that at some point, any point, they can get things together and win a game before the two-minute warning of the fourth quarter.

And, they can’t lose like they did Sunday in Giants Stadium, where they seemed about as unpromising as a heat wave in the Artic.

If not, slowly, surely, the emotions in that locker room are going to begin to spin out of control.  It won’t be an issue of effort, pros like Derrick Brooks, Joey Galloway and Ronde Barber won’t allow it.

But how much longer before the seeds of doubt sprout into the saplings of discord?

What’s it going to take, 2-6, 2-7, 3-8? What?

Real talk here, the Bucs need a resounding win. They need a confidence boost like they need a transfusion.

That the season is bleeding is no secret.

The question is, is it bleeding to death?

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