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Why the Bucs had to Win MNF

After a season opening win, the Bucs had crashed spectacularly and lost their last three games on the bounce, they had the second worst turnover differential in the NFL, they had the second most interceptions in NFL, they had lost not one but both their starting Running-Backs, they lost all bar one of their first choice D-Line, they had a highly drafted kicker who suffered from game day amnesia, they were on the road against last season’s NFC Champions who had won their last six games against the Bucs and, to top it all, were starring in Prime Time Monday Night Football!

Well it wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t high quality but boy it was wild. Two teams who couldn’t afford a loss did their utmost to hand the opposition a win, however, somehow incredibly, the Bucs finally managed to seal the deal as Roberto Aguayo nailed a FG as time expired.

Both teams entered this encounter with a 1-3 record although the Bucs were sitting in second place in their division due to their better divisional record but more importantly, after Atlanta’s win in Denver, both teams were now three wins behind the high flying Dirty Birds and with the Bucs entering their bye week after this game, they could have been four games behind by the time they next played, and realistically, had a fork stuck in them.

Turnovers usually win games and the Bucs had forced only two turnovers in four games (both against the Rams in a game they lost!) however against the Panthers, the Bucs won the turnover battle 4-0 but, mainly due to Roberto Aguayo’s woes, only scored 3 points off of those four turnovers. Buccaneers teams in the past would have let such factors cost them the game but, credit to the team, they kept coming back for more especially the banged up D-Line who may at this point have been thinking about what punishment they were going to dish out to their star kicker.

Such is the fickle nature of sport, you can go from hero to villain or vice-versa in the kick of a ball and so it turned out for Aguayo who kicked the winner to guarantee his seat on the flight home. With the exception of Panthers fans, there can’t be many football fans who would not have wanted him to make this kick. Under intense pressure since his ridiculously high draft pick, Aguayo has had a roller-coaster of a start to his NFL career but making the most important kick of his career thus far can only help his future career which, make no bones about it, was on the line last night.

So at 2-3 entering their bye week, the Bucs have secured two big away wins against divisional foes and more importantly should have the majority of their injured stars available for their week 7 jaunt to Levi’s Stadium. With a chance to get back to .500, the Bucs then have three home games in succession hence the importance of Monday Night’s game. The middle game of those three home fixtures just happens to be another Prime Time game as the divisional leaders, Atlanta Falcons, come to town in a game which will have a big say in the NFC South play-off picture.

After a dispiriting loss at the hands of the Rams in their home opener in week 3, Coach Koetter held a passionate and honest press conference where he criticised the Bucs seemingly never-ending losing mentality and how a winning culture, starting from the top, has to be established at any club if they are to succeed. Changing the culture of a club takes time but results like this one against the Panthers will go a long way in helping to establish this winning mentality and hopefully will lead to a Buccaneers team which will become perennial challengers rather than bottom dwellers of the NFC South.

Photo Copyright : Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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