Even though seven starters are already on injured reserve and an eighth, WR Arrelious Benn, is expected to be added to the list after hurting his knee Sunday, the Buccaneers aren't exactly limping into Week 17. They scored their biggest blowout of the season Sunday, beating the Seahawks 38-15, and are still alive in the playoff race.
The Bucs outgained Seattle 439-174, and QB Josh Freeman threw for a career-high five touchdowns, completing 21-of-26 passes. RB LeGarrette Blount rushed 18 times for 164 yards (9.1 yards per carry), which was also a career best, and WR Mike Williams and TE Kellen Winslow each had two TD catches.
Tampa Bay will have to beat the Saints — a team it lost to, 31-6, in Week Six — at the Superdome in Week 17, and it also needs both of these outcomes to get into the postseason — a Packers loss to the Bears in Week 17 and a Giants loss to the Redskins in Week 17.
The PFW spin
The Bucs clinched a winning record Sunday, getting their ninth victory of the season against a Seattle team that is still just a win away from securing the NFC West title, but Freeman wasn't ready to celebrate after the game.
"If we don't make the playoffs, it doesn't matter if we're 3-13 or whatever we are, the season is considered a failure," Freeman said. "That's our mentality and that's what we're working for."
We didn't need to hear that from Freeman to know how serious he is about making the postseason, but it was his way of sending a clear message to his teammates and anyone else following his career that he's not going to be content with a winning record alone or with posting big numbers.
Whether they make the postseason or not this season, that type of attitude, coupled with his considerable physical gifts, gives the franchise plenty of confidence that Freeman is going to have the Bucs in the playoff picture this late in the season on a consistent basis.