The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have jumped up and become one of the surprise teams of the 2010 season. After amassing just three wins all last season, who'd have thought that they would match that total only five weeks into the NFL's new campaign? But that's just what they've done -- the Bucs stand with a 3-1 record after picking off the Cincinnati Bengals, 24-21. Tampa Bay scored the last 10 points in the game, and the play of the day was quarterback Josh Freeman's(notes) throw to receiver Michael Spurlock with 14 seconds left.
The catch was reviewed by the booth and deemed complete, and that took the ball from the Cincinnati 34 to the 13. Bucs kicker Connor Barth(notes) had a chip shot to win it on the next play. Great news for the Bucs, and yet more curiosities for the Bengals, who reinforced their receiver corps with Terrell Owens(notes) and Jermaine Gresham(notes) in the offseason and are still misfiring at 2-3.
As much as football is the ultimate team sport, and blaming one player for a unit's woes is generally a bad idea, it's impossible not to lay the majority of the responsibility for these issues at the feet of quarterback Carson Palmer(notes). Palmer made some howlingly bad decisions in this game -- he checked down into trouble when deeper receivers were open, he looked flustered when there was no reason to do so, and two of his three interceptions were absolutely his fault. The one that wasn't was his last, and that came one play before the Spurlock catch when his pass bounced off Chad Ochocinco's(notes) hands and landed in the arms of safety Sabby Piscitelli(notes) (who really didn't deserve that bit of luck with the awful game he played).
Meanwhile, the Bucs are riding high in the NFC South. The Saints are still trying to find their way, the Panthers are a disaster, and the Falcons are just one win ahead with two head-to-head matchups to come.
- Michael Spurlock