Late bye has fueled Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl run


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.