With no offseason program or preseason, the Buccaneers weren’t as prepared for the 2020 regular season as they could have been. It showed early on, as the Buccaneers developed a habit of falling behind in games.
The Bucs won three in a row after a Week One loss to the Saints, lost on a Thursday night, and won three more. But then came the buzzsaw, with the 6-2 Bucs losing badly at home to the Saints, 38-3, and otherwise landing in a 1-3 slump.
Enter the bye in Week 13. Along with the Panthers, it was the latest week off of the year. So what did they do during the extra time off?
“Just a little bit of looking inside and knowing this is a really good football team,” Arians told reporters on Monday. “We lost some close games to some really good teams. And we have to find a way to win. And it’s gonna take everybody. There’s things that are gonna happen, but if everybody digs a little bit deeper, we’ll figure out ways to win games. And once we get it going, we’re gonna be hard to stop.”
It worked. The Buccaneers have gone from 7-5 to 7-0, counting three straight road postseason wins.
Now, they’ll return home, a place where the Buccaneers went only 5-3 this year (they’re 9-2 as the visiting team). They lost at home to, coincidentally (not ironically), the Chiefs in the last game before the bye.
The Super Bowl rematch gives the Bucs a chance to finish an 8-0 run since winning seven of 12 in the best way possible — by securing the franchise’s second Super Bowl win in team history. The bad news is that they won’t be playing a team from which the head coach had just been traded. The good news is that the quarterback isn’t Brad Johnson but Tom Brady.