On a day in which the Bucs got a terrific performance from Luke McCown, starting for an ailing Jeff Garcia, a day in which they statistically dominated the New Orleans Saints in every statistical category, it appeared that they would have another loss akin to earlier ones to Detroit and Jacksonville.
The win followed up a game in which the Bucs were summarily dominated in the second half by Washington, but gritted out a 19-13 win, no thanks to Bruce Gradkowski, who could not make a first down in the seoncd half.
Mccown led the Bucs to 24 of those, but after a safety and one ill-advised INT that got run back for a TD, it appeared as if the Bucs would return to Tampa with just a one game lead.
Enter Sean Payton, Reggie Bush, and “The Superdome Special”. Enter Gaines Adams, who went right around Jamaal Brown and had the play completely snuffed out.
Bush’s pitch back to Devery Henderson went awry, Jovan Haye fell on the loose ball and from there, the Bucs offense imposed its will on the Saints.
Undoubtedly, had Earnest Graham been stuffed on fourth-and-1 at the 28-yard-line, coach Jon Gruden would be lambasted much in the same fashion as Sean Payton, Joe Gibbs and Andy Reid.
All of those coaches took gambles on Sunday and came out on the short end of it.
But Graham, quietly having a terrific season for the Bucs, was not to be denied, after running into a wall on third-and-2.
“I was happy as heck to have that play because I was kind of disappointed that we didn’t get it on third down,”said Graham. “Once [Gruden] made that call, I just knew in that situation we were going to get it.”
Gruden echoed Graham’s sentiments. “Well we had a good play there. We had success powering the ball up on the right side earlier in the game