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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rooting Interest | S.S. Mailbag

This week, Buccaneers fans have questions about who to root for this weekend, longest field goals in team history, movie analogies, good reads and more


I don't have one specific idea to flesh out in the intro this week – where's another Mike Evans milestone when I need one? – so I thought I would just throw a handful of statistical notes at you that I find interesting. I hope you do too.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' rushing attack, which has resided near the bottom of the league rankings for the past two years, has found a groove in recent weeks. The 125 yards it produced in Week 12 were a single-game high for the team in 2023…until it produced 128 yards the next weekend against Carolina. That was the high-water mark for seven days, until the Bucs ground out 148 rushing yards in the big win in Atlanta.

Did you know…that's the first time the Bucs have run for at least 125 yards in three consecutive games since 2015? In fact, it's just the 12th time the team has ever done that and it ties the longest such streak in franchise history. Yes, one more big rushing game in Green Bay and the Bucs will have four straight games with 125-plus rushing yards for the first time ever.

The Buccaneers didn't commit a turnover in their win over the Falcons, which of course means they also did not surrender any points off giveaways. Tampa Bay's defense recorded one takeaway and scored a touchdown off of it two plays later for a seven-point edge in points off turnovers in the game. (The Bucs also got two points on a safety, which was made possible by an Antoine Winfield Jr. forced fumble, but Falcons fullback Keith Smith recovered it and was tackled in the end zone, so the play was technically not a turnover.)

Did you know…The Buccaneers have allowed only 16 points off turnovers all season. Since 2000, the lowest points-allowed-off-turnovers the Bucs have finished a season with 37, in 2001. The average number of points off turnovers allowed in a season by Tampa Bay over the last 23 years is 86.4.

Winfield's big play in the end zone on Sunday was his fourth sack of the season, as he continues to fill out every corner of his personal stat sheet. Winfield also leads the Buccaneers with 97 tackles and has four tackles for loss, six quarterback hits, two interceptions, 11 passes defensed, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

Did you know…Winfield is the first defensive back in the NFL to have at least three sacks, at least three forced fumbles and at least three fumble recoveries in a single season since Hall of Fame safety Brian Dawkins of the Eagles did it in 2002.

Tampa Bay had to mount one last touchdown drive to take the lead in the final minute in Atlanta, but they did at one point have a nine-point lead in the second half. The Buccaneers also scored first on Chase McLaughlin's 55-yard field goal in the first quarter.

Did you know…Over the last 10 seasons, the Buccaneers are 46-32 when they score the game's first points, a winning percentage of .590. When their opponents score first, the Bucs are 26-55 in that span, for a winning percentage of .321.

Okay, that's enough of me noodling around with numbers. Now, let's get to your questions.

A reminder that you can send questions to me any time you want on Twitter (@ScottSBucs) and they're easier to find if you include the hashtag #SSMailbagBucs. We are also now soliciting questions each week on our Instagram page; look for that story on Wednesdays. As always, if you want to get a longer question into the mailbag and would prefer to email your question, you can do so to

What is the longest FG a Buc has ever made?

- @00send_me00 (via Instagram)

Okay, yes, this is me starting out with an easy one to pad my stats. I would guess the person asking this question became a Buccaneers fan some time after 2006, because those who witnessed that season are probably yelling the answer at their screen right now.

The longest field goal a Buccaneer has ever made was a 62-yarder by Matt Bryant against the Philadelphia Eagles on October 22, 2006. Time expired on the play and the Bucs won, 23-21, on a day in which it did not score an offensive touchdown. Rondé Barber provided more than half of the Bucs' points with a pair of pick-sixes off Donovan McNabb. The next day, Tampa mayor Pam Iorio declared it "Matt Bryant Day" in Tampa.

Chandler Catanzaro is second on the list with a 59-yarder that beat Cleveland in overtime on October 21, 2018. Matt Gay made a 58-yarder against the Rams on September 29, 2019 and Kyle Brindza did the same against Houston on September 27, 2015. Chase McLaughlin's two 57-yard field goals this season are tied for the fifth longest in team history.

Bryant was not the first Buccaneer to attempt a 62-yard field goal. Martin Gramatica did so in 2003 and Donald Igwebuike did so twice in 1985, but none of them were successful.

Who should we be rooting for this week to help our playoff chances?

- @iamlilleteo (via Instagram)

We anticipate fans wondering this at this time of year, which is why every season that the Bucs are in the playoff hunt down the stretch drive we produce a weekly "Viewing Guide" to suggest which teams Tampa Bay fans should be rooting for that weekend. I used to be the one making those suggestions but I've handed that fun little exercise over to my colleague, Brianna Dix this year. She posted her first Viewing Guide yesterday, so check it out here if you want a more detailed look at the slate of games.

Real quickly, though, I'll let you know that this week is not nearly as complicated as some of them can get when choosing rooting interests. There aren't many NFC contenders playing each other in Week 15 – 6-7 Bucs at 6-7 Packers is a notable exception – so you'll mostly just need to root for the team with the worse record in each matchup. That includes the 6-7 Falcons at the 1-12 Panthers (go Bryce!) and the 5-8 Giants at the 6-7 Saints (go Tommy!). Oh, and root for AFC teams against NFC teams, particularly the Bengals at home against the 7-6 Vikings. And since the Bucs could conceivably still get into contention for the third seed in the NFC field, root for the Broncos to go into Detroit and take down the 9-4 Lions.

Do you see any Bucs winning one of the annual awards like MVP, DPOY, OPOY, etc.?

- @mm8075 (via Instagram)

I do not.

The MVP award almost always goes to a quarterback on a team that is one of the top two seeds in his conference, though wide receiver Tyreek Hill could have a shot this year with his outlier of a season. No receiver has ever won it, though. The frontrunners for MVP are probably Dak Prescott, Brock Purdy and Jalen Hurts, and you can never count out Patrick Mahomes if he goes on a heater over the final month.

The Buccaneers don't have any players with the type of sack or interceptions that would give them a shot at Defensive Player of the Year. There are seven players who already have at least 13.0 sacks, with Micah Parsons right behind at 12.5. I'd bet on one of those players winning it.

Offensive Player of the Year is going to go to whoever voters think got passed over in the MVP voting. That's probably Hill if he doesn't win MVP and someone like Prescott or Purdy if he does.

The best bet for the Buccaneers would be Defensive Rookie of the Year. I don't think Calijah Kancey or Yaya Diaby are in position to win that right now, but they're not far off the rookie sack lead so if one of them gets really hot down the stretch it's a possibility. I wouldn't count on it, though.

If you had to pick a movie as an analogy for this season, what would it be?

- @jddarcey (via Instagram)

This is a fun question, but a really hard one, too. I thought about it for probably a lot longer than I should have. I don't have a really spot-on answer, but how about A Few Good Men? Hear me out.

Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee (Baker Mayfield) is working under the shadow of his famous and incredibly successful father (Tom Brady), and he's given an assignment that most outsiders, including his friend Captain Jack Ross, thinks he has no chance of succeeding at (getting the Bucs into the playoffs). He's not a trial lawyer (a tall quarterback) but he knows how to work the system and he's very charismatic.

Kaffee has two lawyer sidekicks, Lt. Commander JoAnne Galloway and Lieutenant Sam Weinberg who help him throughout the whole process (Mike Evans and Chris Godwin). They suffer a number of significant setbacks along the way, such as Private First Class Louden Downey admitting on the stand that he didn't hear the order of the Code Red (the missed Hail Mary in Buffalo) and star witness Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Markinson committing suicide just before he was to testify (the last-second loss in Houston).

Kaffee and the defense team are behind as the trial closes in on its final witnesses. Before Kaffee, now brimming with confidence, starts his cross examination of Colonel Nathan R. Jessep, Galloway pulls him aside and tells him that, if he doesn't think he can get Jessep to say what he wants to say, "don't go for it" (Bucs fans who wanted the team to start tanking when it fell to 4-7). But he goes for it, and he starts getting some solid shots in on Jessep, such as hitting Jessep with his conflicting orders (beating the Panthers) and making him nervous about the tower logs (beating the Falcons).

Now, most of us know how that movie ends. Kaffee does go for it, and he wins when he gets Jessep to admit he ordered the Code Red. The Bucs' 2023 movie doesn't have an ending yet, but they are going to go for it, even if there are those out there who think they can't win. Will they be able to get the rest of the NFC South court-martialed? We'll see.

(That was a pretty tortured analogy, wasn't it? I really just picked that movie because I love it and will watch it any time I come across it on TV.)

What is one book everyone should read before they die?

- @kahaian (via Instagram)

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller. It's a war movie and is tragic, but it's also one of the funniest books I've ever read in my life. I still think about it quite frequently when something unusual or contradictory happens in my life that reminds me of a scene in the book. And if you've used the term 'Catch-22' all your life but didn't really know what it meant or where it came from, reading this book will enlighten you on the subject. I won't spoil it in case anyone out there actually takes my recommendation.

Is Lambeau Field really as iconic as the 'legend' says? I hate the Packers

- @nickpiscitelli_ (via Instagram)

I don't see what hating the Packers has to do with anything. I hate the Chicago Cubs with every drop of my St. Louis Cardinals-red blood, but I'd go to Wrigley Field any chance I got. Going to college just outside of Chicago and being able to ride the El right down to the stadium was awesome. It's just a really great place to take in a baseball game, and it's even better if the Cardinals are in town and are beating up on the Cubbies.

I'd have to say yes to that question though. For one, I've been there multiple times and it really does feel like a football cathedral. It breathes history. But even more so, I've heard enough players and coaches talk about playing there to believe they are not just emptily paying homage to Lambeau. They aren't just saying what they think everybody wants to hear. Why, just yesterday, Bucs Pass Game Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach Larry Foote, who played 13 NFL seasons as a linebacker, most of them with the Steelers, said this:

"I loved playing there. I loved going there. There are certain stadiums I was fortunate to walk in that just had an aura about [them] – the [Los Angeles Memorial] Coliseum and then Lambeau Field. They said before they added the seats, Solider Field [too]. But those two places, you walk in there and… I don't know, you've got to be there, but there is something special about those two places. The Coliseum and that place – it just takes you back. It's a special place."

Or hears former Head Coach Bruce Arians a couple days before the Bucs went up to Green Bay for the 2020 NFC Championship Game (a truly glorious day):

"Just the history of the place. I think they [have] great fans, it's always been a joy to go coach there just because of the history of the game. We won some [and] we lost some, but Lambeau is one of the true iconic venues to play in."

I could find plenty more but I don't think I need to. Take my word for it: NFL players and coaches really do view Lambeau Field as an iconic place to play.

Playoff chances if we win vs if we lose?

- @Rossleach8 (via Instagram)

Well, that will depend some (or a lot) on what happens in the Atlanta and New Orleans game, but if you want me to check in with the New York Times playoff odds calculator again, I'd be happy to do so.

According to that simulator, the Buccaneers have greatly improved their playoff hopes in the past two weeks, after they had fallen quite low. Now the Bucs are seen as having a 55% chance of making the playoffs, with 46% of that being from winning the division. If the only outcome from this weekend we add is the Bucs beating the Packers, that goes up to 77%, which I have to say is wildly encouraging. If we add in a Falcons loss, it only goes up a little to 80%. If we add in a Saints loss (but no result in the Atlanta game), it's the same thing, 80%. If we add in losses by both the Falcons and Saints, now we're at 84%.

Now, the other scenario. With just a Bucs loss in Green Bay submitted, Tampa Bay's playoff odds drop to 42%, with 37% of that winning the division. Adding in a Saints win over the Giants doesn't change things too much, only dropping the Bucs' odds to 35%. Same thing with just a Falcons win over the Panthers, and same thing if we add in both the Falcons and Saints winning.

So, it's obviously a very important game this weekend, but the Bucs will be far from out of it if they fail to extend their winning streak to three games.

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