The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Cincinnati Bengals 24-21 on Sunday.
What it means: The Bucs are for real. We’re not talking dynasty just yet and they might not even be a playoff contender. But the Bucs are 3-1 and this was their biggest win of the year. Unlike the first two, it didn’t come against Jake Delhomme or the guy who replaced him (Matt Moore) in Carolina. It came against Carson Palmer, generally considered a good quarterback. The Bucs went on the road, fell behind a decent team and had enough talent to come back and win. This one was a major sign of progress.
Injury of note: Center Jeff Faine suffered a quadriceps injury. He’ll be examined and tested more thoroughly back in Tampa, but this one sounds fairly serious. The Bucs likely would slide backup guard Jeremy Zuttah over to center if Faine is going to miss time.
Heroes: Take your pick because there were a number of candidates. Connor Barth kicked the game-winning field goal. Josh Freeman set him up to do it. Much-maligned safety Sabby Piscitelli made a key interception to allow Freeman to set up Barth.
Hindsight: Remember when everybody was freaking out because rookie safety Cody Grimm gave up a big play against Pittsburgh in his first NFL start? A lot of knee jerkers wanted Grimm run out of town. That wasn’t realistic because seventh-round picks aren’t supposed to be immediate starters. But Grimm used the bye week and some coaching and came up with an interception that he returned for a touchdown. There still will be ups and downs for Grimm, but this guy might have a future.
What’s next: If you truly want to measure progress and find out if the Bucs just might be a legitimate playoff contender, start looking to next week. The Bucs host the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. Yeah, the Saints haven’t exactly been lighting it up like they did last season, but they’re still the champions and that will provide an excellent test for Tampa Bay.