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After a roller coaster season, Bucs land at Ray Jay for the big one

I can't remember a season that had so many ups and downs. So many opinion changing games. Before the season started, I felt very, very good about the Bucs chances of going deep into the playoffs. I felt this would finally be the year that we dominated the Saints. Then week one came and went with the same usual results against our division nemesis. The Bucs lost that game 34-23, and it left a big hole in my stomach. I started questioning my whole evaluation of this Tom Brady led team. Week two came around with an expected win against the Panthers. Then came wins against the Broncos, and the surprising rookie led chargers.

Those three wins were against teams we should have beaten. They were closer than I would have liked them, but wins all the same. I will admit that to me the whole "a win is a win" mantra wasn't for me. I think you can tell a lot about a team by the way they win, or lose for that matter. So I wasn't comforted much by the wins. I was happy, don't get me wrong. I was looking for something deeper in those wins. Most of all, probably domination, clean playing without a bunch of penalties etc.

Then we traveled to the Windy City to play an under-rated Bears team. The Bucs just didn't seem like they were getting better with each game. Matter of fact they had now lost to the two teams they played that were really any good at all. One point, thirty points, I didn't like what I was seeing.

Next up Green Bay came to town undefeated, and Rodgers was playing some of his best football ever. During the first quarter, I almost turned the channel. Down ten to nothing to a resurgent Packers team looked like the beginning of a huge rout. Turns out it actually was. For the first time all season, the Defense stood up in a huge way and shut Rodgers down the rest of the way. Making him look very average on the way to a 38-10 straight up beat down. I was ecstatic after the open hand face plant that was the Packers win. My confidence in the playoffs had returned.

Then the next week we put it on our old friend Jon Gruden 45-20 which only bolstered my post Packers feelings. Then came the Giants game. For whatever reason the Giants lately have had our number. They came in with a bad record, and nothing to lose. The loss to them last year still fresh on my mind, I was losing my mind for the entire game until we finally put it away. It was a very unsatisfying win for me. It showed regression since the Packers and Raiders games, and I was again back to earth worrying we just didn't have it down yet. That is winning, and beating bad teams by convincing scores. The Giants are not what their record showed at the time, still though, it was a let down for me.

Then we faced a re-match with the Saints at home. Coming off the close Giants win, I did not feel good about this one. Those feelings rang true as we got the hell beat out of us for the whole country to see. At this point I have the feeling that this team is going nowhere fast. That if we were lucky enough to make the playoffs, it would be a first round exit in a bad way. We again beat the Panthers in the next one, but then lost to the Rams and Chiefs in consecutive weeks. So at this point the only teams we had played minus Green Bay that were any good at all, we had lost to. At this point I'm beyond consoling and I truly believed the playoffs were out of the question. Along with any chance at a historic home field advantage in the big game.

Then we entered the bye week, and when we came out of it, we won our last four games looking pretty darn good along the way. Although we didn't really play anyone too tough, so I was sure it was still window dressing. The team though appeared to have come together during those final four contests. The Offensive line had played very well, Defense, the whole nine yards. Penalties weren't a problem anymore, but a date in Washington in the wild card game looked like a great place to blow it all. That of course didn't happen and for some reason I had a good feeling going into the third showdown with the Aints.

With Arians finally giving the running game it's carries in these playoffs, the Bucs were looking solid, and they proved it by upsetting the Saints in the Big Easy. Then we were on our way to Lambeau Field, the frozen tundra where it was forecast to be below freezing at kickoff. The Packers were itching for pay back from the regular season, but they came up empty handed as we punched out ticket to the Big Game and the first home team to do so.

It was a torturous year for those of us that think too much and overanalyze things at times. It wasn't at all like the 2001-02 run to the Super-Bowl. That season it felt good all season long up until the big win against the Raiders. This season was up and down probably due to no practice time in camp etc, and no pre-season games. Another post season re-match against the Chiefs is what we have earned. In a season of rematches, this will be our third in the post-season. I'm expecting the same results in this one as well. It was a rough ride, but we made it Bucs Fans, now it's time to put Mahomes on his backside. Go Bucs!!

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