NFC South Week 5 decisive moment

There’s an old saying in the NFL that big-time players make big-time plays. If that’s the case, the baby Buccaneers are growing up fast and big-time players have been sprouting up quickly in a 3-1 start.

No one has grown faster than quarterback Josh Freeman, who wasn’t even playing at this time a year ago. It still is very early in his career, but Freeman is showing he might be capable of doing what no other quarterback in franchise history ever has done. This guy goes out and wins games.

That has never happened in Tampa Bay before. Through different coaching and front-office regimes, the Bucs always seemed to ask their quarterbacks to not lose games. From Doug Williams to Trent Dilfer to Brad Johnson to Jeff Garcia, nobody ever went out and truly won games. The quarterbacks always were asked to try to be careful while the defense did the winning.

But the Bucs are letting Freeman be a gunslinger and it’s working. The latest example came Sunday in Cincinnati. With one fourth-quarter touchdown pass already under his belt to tie the score, Freeman got a huge break when safety Sabby Piscitelli picked off Carson Palmer.

Freeman charged onto the field and threw a rocket to the sideline where Micheal Spurlock also grew up before our eyes. Spurlock made a tippy-toe catch that prompted a replay to see if he actually made the catch inbounds. He did.

That set up Connor Barth’s game-winning field goal.