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Times staff writer Tom Jones looks back at Sunday's Bucs-Giants game..
By TOM JONES, Times Staff Writer
Published January 7, 2008
[Brian Cassella | Times]
Didn't Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia and the offense look a little off? In fact, Garcia kind of looked like a guy who had barely played in the past month. So now the controversy continues over whether coach Jon Gruden rested his starters (specifically Garcia) too much down the stretch.
"I don't know Jon Gruden could've approached it any differently than he did," Fox analyst Troy Aikman said. "I think (the Bucs' offensive problems) had more to do with the Giants defense."
"He had no choice. He had guys who were hurt," Fox's Jimmy Johnson said.
The lone misstep
Actually, Fox's Joe Buck did say one thing that made us scratch our heads. Late in the third quarter, he said the Bucs offensive line was doing a "decent job" slowing the Giants pass rush. If his definition of "decent job" is the same as "putting up the same amount of resistance as a wet paper towel," then we agree. Otherwise, he was a bit off on that. The Giants pass rush was the key reason Jeff Garcia had one of his worst days in a couple of years.
Bucs? No way. Giants? Well, that's not the answer, either, although they were very good.
The announcing team of Fox's Joe Buck and Troy Aikman had another splendid day.
No disrespect to the other announcers who called the Bucs games this season, but what a pleasure for Tampa Bay viewers to finally get Fox's No. 1 team of Buck and Aikman. You don't realize how the other announcing teams don't measure up until you hear Buck and Aikman. There's a reason those guys call the best game Fox has to offer each week. And the reason is they are entertaining, intelligent, charismatic, and, best of all, they rarely say anything stupid.
Aikman was especially sharp pointing out how Bucs receiver Joey Galloway didn't look like himself.
It's almost as if they had already seen the game and were reading from a well-prepared script. These two are as good as it gets. Too bad they won't be doing any more Bucs games for a while.
"(Derrick Brooks) was my favorite player ... when I was 10."
Bucs linebacker Barrett Ruud on the Fox NFL Sunday pregame show
You hate to pick on local cult legend Micheal Spurlock and you hate to point at one play in a 60-minute game, but his fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half was a killer. Instead of getting the ball down by seven with a chance to tie it, the Bucs offense didn't take over until it was down by 10. Spurlock coughing up the ball changed the whole complexion of the second half.
Hey, look at it this way: At least the Bucs don't have to go to Dallas and get wiped out. Yes, the Bucs are a little better this season than last, but the Cowboys are way better this season - and the Cowboys embarrassed the Bucs on Thanksgiving Day last season to the tune of 38-10.
"This might be the best coaching job done to date by Jon Gruden."
Fox analyst Howie Long on the Fox NFL Sunday pregame show
"This may be his best season yet."
Fox announcer Joe Buck, talking about Gruden, as the Bucs were taking a 7-0 lead
Worst thing Bucs fan could hear
At halftime, Fox analyst Jimmy Johnson said, "The big question coming in was, 'Which Eli Manning are we going to see?' We're seeing the good Eli Manning."
In his third try, Manning finally won a playoff game. And, give Manning credit, he is the reason the Giants won Sunday. The Bucs defensive approach was, "Let's make Manning beat us." And he did.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning outplayed the Bucs' Jeff Garcia. There were a lot of factors involved, chiefly that Manning had loads more time than Garcia. But the bottom line: The kid outplayed the veteran.
So Giants wideout Plaxico Burress, right,was itching all day to give the business to Ronde Barber for some of Barber's trash talk last week about the Giants. But at least wait until you do something more than catch a 14-yard pass in the fourth quarter for just your fourth catch of the day.
The interception Jeff Garcia threw in the end zone on the Bucs' first offensive possession in the second half was awful. So awful that we wish there were another word way worse than awful. Garcia, so good for being so smart and rarely turning over the ball, picked the worst time to make his worst decision of the year.
Why does everyone get so fired up about Tiki and Ronde Barber running their mouths now and then? They're not talking about the war in Iraq or homelessness or who should be president. They're talking about football, for crying out loud. So what that they pop off? It helps us get from one Sunday to the next.
As Fox football analyst Howie Long said, "If you don't want an answer from a Barber brother, don't ask the question."
Besides, if Eli Manning and the Giants needed a comment from the Barber brothers to get fired up for a playoff game, they are doomed to fail.e_SClBBiggest mystery
How in the world did Derrick Brooks miss swatting that ball away from Brandon Jacobs on Jacobs' 5-yard touchdown catch? Doesn't it seem like the ball must have actually gone through Brooks' hand?
Okay, so you're a Bucs fan and you're disappointed today. And Sunday was frustrating.
But let's look at the glass half-full. It turned out to be a much better season than most expected. The Bucs overcame injuries. They had a winning record. They won their division. They made the playoffs. They should be decent to good again next season with a couple of upgrades. Since September, overall, there were more good days than bad. And isn't that, really, what you want most from your team? To give you more days to praise them than to curse them?
Championships are great, but there is only one per sport per season. The next best thing is having a team that is fun to watch. And, most of the time, the Bucs provided that this season.
[Last modified January 6, 2008, 22:25:01]