LeGarette Blount takes the hand off from Josh Freeman in the shadow of his own goal line, his Buccaneers hanging on to a tenuous three-point lead with just over two minutes left to play. He drives towards the line which is crowded with black jersey clad Arizona Cardinal’s defensive linemen, there is no hole to run through, Second and 10 is looming. But then….
With one miraculous run Blount put the first nail in the Cardinals' coffin; all but icing a wild affair that featured six turnovers and 800 yards of total offense. More importantly, with that 48-yard scamper LeGarrette Blount may have cemented himself as the Buccaneer’s feature back for the foreseeable future. For a team that has struggled running the ball all season long the emergence of a viable ground threat may be more valuable than this single win.
Blount has shown flashes of potential in the previous two games combined and with Cadillac Williams’ struggles continuing the fans were beginning to clamor for more of the Oregon product. Against the Cardinals he showed what we have all been waiting for - 22 carries for 120 yards, two touchdowns and a giant 48-yard game sealer. Sure, he also fumbled leading directly to a Cardinals touchdown in the middle of a dramatic comeback but the coaching staff demonstrated trust in the young running back handing him the ball repeatedly at the end of the game.
Blount wasn’t the only rookie standout on the afternoon; Star in the making Mike Williams continued to demonstrate why he may be the best young wide out in football, hauling in 4 passes for 105 yards including a 47-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Fellow rookie Arrelious Benn added a 53-yard deep catch of his own setting up Blount’s second touchdown of the day from the 1-yard line.
Second year quarterback Josh Freeman has now played in 16 regular season NFL games and has six game-winning 4th quarter drives after orchestrating yet another come from behind victory today. He may not be the flashiest quarterback in the league, or put up the sexiest numbers, but Freeman continues to be unflappable under pressure and clutch when it counts. He also takes care of the football and generally avoids the big mistake that many other young signal callers fall victim too.
The Buccaneer’s moved to 5-2 with their third road win on the season (and fifth consecutive) and into a tie for first place with the idle Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South. Does this win prove Raheem Morris’s point that the Bucs may be the best team in the NFC? Probably not, but it does remind us once again that they do have arguably the best young core of any team in all of football.