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two cents

Tom Jones' Two Cents: Tampa Bay Bucs vs. Atlanta Falcons

Best result

We can debate just how hard the Falcons actually played in what was a meaningless game for them, and thus we can debate just how meaningful the Bucs' victory was.

While we're at it, don't put too much stock in the theory that Sunday's victory gives the Bucs momentum heading into next season. Winning Sunday isn't going to do much for a team that won't play a real game again for nine months.

But this is Sport 101: winning beats losing. And that's true regardless of the opponent or the opponent's will. Maybe beating a team that wasn't going all out isn't that impressive, but losing to such a team would have been disheartening. Besides, it looked like the Falcons were trying to me.

If nothing else, the Bucs won't have to hear over and over for the next nine months that they ended the season with a six-game skid.

Best player

Based on this season, how many running backs would you take ahead of the Bucs' Doug Martin? There's the Vikings' Adrian Peterson, maybe the Texans' Arian Foster, then there's … uh. Seriously, you could argue that Martin, with his running and receiving skills, is among the NFL's top three all-around running backs.

His 142 yards on the ground and his 18 receiving Sunday gave him a total of 1,766 from scrimmage. Especially impressive is the rookie touched the ball 336 times this season and fumbled only once.

That's a team MVP right there.

Biggest question

How does a quarterback as tall as the 6-foot-6 Josh Freeman get so many of his passes tipped by defensive linemen?

On the other hand, as much as some want to rip into Freeman, this is a fact: He set team records for passing yards and TD passes, and the Bucs offense scored more points and gained more yards than any team in franchise history. If you're looking to place blame for the Bucs' losing record, start on the other side of the ball.

Three things that popped into my head

1. You know which loss will keep the Bucs up all offseason? The 23-21 home clunker to the hapless Eagles on Dec. 9. That was Philly's only victory in its final 12 games. Just think how much better you'd feel about the Bucs if they had won that game and finished 8-8.

2. The victory could have cost the Bucs a few spots in the draft, but it's not like they lost themselves the first overall pick. With several games Sunday affecting the draft order, and draft-day trades and free agency changing the needs of teams, you cannot suggest the Bucs should have purposefully lost to get a higher pick.

3. Ronde, how about one more season, okay?

Final thought

Rays pitchers and catchers report in 43 days.

Tom Jones' Two Cents: Tampa Bay Bucs vs. Atlanta Falcons 12/30/12 [Last modified: Monday, December 31, 2012 12:23am]
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