What it means: The Buccaneers are tied with New Orleans for first place in the NFC South, just like everyone expected. But, seriously, this was a big win for the Buccaneers, who have been losing fans since losing early and often last season. A win over Cleveland is not going to start selling out Raymond James Stadium, but it’s a good start for the Bucs. They played good defense and Josh Freeman threw two touchdowns and showed he might be the “franchise quarterback’’ the Bucs have been saying he is.
What’s next: Tampa Bay goes to Carolina next week and is home at Pittsburgh the week after that before a Week 4 bye. Let’s not get carried away just yet, but a 2-1 or 3-0 start suddenly looks possible. Pittsburgh will still be without Ben Roethlisberger and there’s a chance Carolina might have to turn to rookie Jimmy Clausen next week because starter Matt Moore is in a New Jersey hospital right now after taking a big hit late in the loss to the Giants. Freeman could be the best quarterback on the field for Tampa Bay’s first three games.
Big Revelation: Ronde Barber’s got some gas left in the tank. Even though the veteran cornerback, who some have said no longer should be starting, didn’t make it into the end zone his 65-yard return on an interception set up Freeman’s first touchdown pass. This defense is very young and getting better, but keeping a veteran like Barber around gives the defense someone with a track record for making big plays and a steady influence on the rest of the defense.
Unsung Hero: Micheal Spurlock. Most of the preseason talk about Tampa Bays’ receivers centered on rookies Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn. Williams did produce a touchdown catch. But it was Spurlock who came through with a 33-yard touchdown catch that put the Bucs ahead to stay.