Bucs’ brass leads to win over Vikings

by Gary Shelton on September 11, 2023

in general

Monday, 4 a.m.

Does the narrative change now?

Instead of everyone talking about how hot Todd Bowles’ seat is, will critics talk about the nerve of the guy?

Instead of everyone talking about how Baker Mayfield wore out his welcome elsewhere, will cynics talk about how moxie he has left?

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Instead of everyone talking about how Chase McLaughlin was just another recycled kicker, will people wonder how the rest of the league let this guy slip away.

Okay, okay. It was just one game, and perceptions take a while to alter. But after the Bucs’ 20-17 victory over Minnesota, the Bucs have at least taken one step toward  rewriting their stories.

Against Minnesota, the Bucs were bold. They won because they dared to win. Because they seized the  biggest moments of the game. They were clutch. They were competitive.

And they were winners.

Start with Bowles. Was there any clue that Bowles had it in him to go for it on fourth-and-one at Minnesota’s 32 with 8:18 to play. With that running game? With all the short-yardage frustrations in recent history? But Mayfield made the first down, which sparked the winning drive.

Speaking of Mayfield, how about his finish? Mayfield was three-for11 at one point. He hit 18 of his last 23, including a game-clinching 11-yard pass to Chris Godwin to allow the Bucs to run out the clock.

And while the subject is on clutch, McLaughlin nailed a 57-yard field goal  for the win with 5:10 left.

Hey, it’s a long season. Half the teams in the league won their first game.

But so little was expected of this team. Bowles was supposedly holding space for the next coach, and Mayfield was evidence of tanking, and the team couldn’t run.

On Sunday, however, the Bucs had enough grit to hang around. Tiley made second-half adjustments. For instance, Kurt Cousins threw for 273 of his 328 yards in the first half; in the second, he threw for 55 yards. Receiver Justin Jefferson caught passes for 138 yards in the first half. In the second, he was held to 12 yards.

On Minnesota’s final possession the Vikings went three-and-out.

The Bucs are home on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium at 1 p.m.

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