Sunday was one of those rare days where just about everything went the Buccaneers way. Well, everything except that Hail Mary pass that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw at the end first half.
Seriously, though, while the Bucs were bouncing back from that one big scoring play and posting a 36-10 victory at Raymond James Stadium, every other team in the still combative NFC South was losing.
The Falcons blew a fourth-quarter lead and lost to the Eagles; the Panthers blew a 17-point lead and lost to the Chiefs and the Broncos scored 2 points off a blocked PAT to beat the Saints.
The fallout the Bucs (4-5) are back in the playoff picture, 1.5 games behind the Falcons in the race for the South and 1.5 games behind the Giants and Redskins in the battle for the last NFC Wild Card berth.
Bucs coach Dirk Koetter doesn’t want to hear it, though. Asked about the Bucs sudden re-emergence as a potential playoff participant in the wake of Sunday’s game, he waived off the notion.
“I don’t think we should even be thinking about that,’’ he said. “I just don’t think that’s what we should be doing. We can’t get ahead of ourselves. I don’t think that helps us.
“I know that’s a cliche, but I think we’ve just got to one week at a time. We play a really good football team next week in Kansas City, a team that a lot of people are picking to go all the way.
“I mean, we’ve just got to hang in there. We’re not consistent enough. Today was a huge day but we’ve got to be able to go back-to- back-to- back. We’ve got to stick some together.’’
Koetter is absolutely right, and good for him for pointing that out. Fans have a tendency to overreact to wins as much as they do losses and while Sunday’s win was a big one, it has to be put in perspective.
The Bucs victory over the Bears was a convincing one, but all it really did was put a little more distance between them and NFC’s bottom feeders, whom the Bucs have been living off of.
Of their four victories, one has come against a team with a winning record (Atlanta). The others have come against the three worst teams in the NFC – Carolina (3-6), Chicago (2-7) and San Francisco (1-8).
So let’s not get too worked up over how this one victory has tightened up the playoff race. Until they pile on a few more victories, the Bucs can only loosely be considered a playoff contenders.