The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did just enough to defeat the Atlanta Falcons, 16-13, Sunday afternoon to improve to 2-1. Tampa Bay, which led 16-3 after the first drive of the second half, barely held on to win, but nonetheless came out on top. ESPN's panel of NFL power-rankings voters didn't penalize the Bucs, but didn't exactly reward them, either. For the second straight week, Tampa Bay ranks 14th in ESPN's power rankings.
Mike Sando, writing the Bucs' blurb on the panel's behalf, points out Tampa Bay is above .500 "despite only two TD passes, four INTs in three games." There are several ways to interpret his comment. One is that the Buccaneers are lucky to be where they are in light of their poor passing game. Another is that their record will only improve once the passing game gets on the right track. Among ESPN's panelists, Sando had the Bucs lowest on his ballot, putting them 17th. Paul Kuharsky, in contrast, ranked the Bucs 9th.
Though some of the Bucs' numbers are mediocre, maybe there's something to be said for winning close games. As Gregg Easterbrook--who writes for ESPN but does not vote on its power rankings--notes, "[Tampa Bay] has won games by four and three points" so far this season, after going an NFL-best 5-1 in close games last season. To Easterbrook, that trend indicates the Bucs are a "young team [that] is growing up fast."