All those in the land far and wide came to know the man called Famous Jameis

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[Gamebook]

[Jameis Winston Highlights] [Pewter Report] [Rick Stroud] [Joe Bucs Fan]

As with all greats, the wins and stories of legend are beginning to pile up. From the Tampa Bay Times:

Aside from going 4-for-4 for 42 yards on the final drive, Winston turned in one of the most spectacular individual plays of the season, scrambling 20 I-can’t-believe-he-wasn’t-down yards on third and 19. In the huddle three plays later, he asked who wanted to score the winning touchdown. When receiver Mike Evans said, “Me, me, me,” Winston obliged, hitting Evans with a 6-yard TD pass with 1:01 left.

Jameis Winston is a racehorse that is worth a lot of money because he often wins. That’s how I felt about him when he played on Saturday’s and it’s happening again at the next level. He did it again today with 1:39 left in the game, hitting Mike Evans with the game-winner. Leap-frogging the Atlanta Falcons and in fact; sweeping them.

The Buccaneers are 6-6, at .500 once again. Jameis Winston has his first career game-winning drive and 4th quarter comeback. In a game where there are constantly players who are the latest and greatest, this kid is absolutely showing that he’s the player I’ve waited on to arrive. It’s not about his stats. He had a very Winston like day; 18 of 27, 227 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He rushed for his fifth touchdown on the season.

But it’s maybe THIS PLAY in which Jameis Winston is best evidenced and summed up. A 20-yard run on 3rd and 19 with the game on the line. His refusal to lose or go down. It was ugly, but he got it done. As I am typing this post, I hear analyst and former head coach Tony Dungy say on Sunday Night Football that ‘the Buccaneers may not make the playoffs, but they have a winner in Jameis Winston’.

It’s been a fun season, and you can just tell that this is going to be the long-term guy for the Buccaneers. First December game, a big win for Winston and the Buccaneers.

They won this game without Gerald McCoy and Jacquies Smith. When I saw those two guys were out, I figured there was no chance the Buccaneers win this game which opened basically as an even spread.

This was probably the best home win yet for Winston – I have a feeling it’s going to be replaced by a lot of games in the not so distant future.

Buccaneers win one for the ages in Overtime in Atlanta, 23-20

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[Game book]
[Joe Bucs Fan] [PFT] [Tampa Bay Times]

Maybe this one was for Kwon Alexander, playing in honor of the loss of his murdered brother on Saturday morning. Maybe it was for Lovie Smith, who was certainly under fire last week after the team blew a huge lead in Washington. There were so many ways this one could have broke; and the Buccaneers got it done.

Alexander was definitely the MVP of today’s game. The Buccaneers would not have won without him. The play of the game came when he stripped Julio Jones of the football. He stripped it away, and the Buccaneers tied the game at three. He later added an interception and led the team in tackles with 11.

I’ve always liked Kwon Alexander. Something told me that this guy had ‘it’, some type of swagger. He’s going to be one of those middle round draft pick guys that just sticks. Barring injury, he’ll be a long-term cog on the Buccaneers roster. He can play.

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Jameis Winston didn’t throw an interception for the third straight week. He went 16 of 29 for 177 yards, a touchdown and had several big hitters in the game like this strike to Cameron Brate, and had a rushing touchdown from four yards out to put the Buccaneers up 20-3.

He was a leader. He managed the game. He hit WR Adam Humphries on a crucial third down play to keep the Buccaneers drive going in Overtime; the drive that eventually was the game-winning drive. He went into Atlanta, to the dome where they are so tough to beat with Matt Ryan at the helm and beat a 6-1 team to keep his squad in the playoff race. Jameis said that the crowd noise was for him and Kwon Alexander.

I thought the guy in this game who could factor big was Donteea Dye. It turned out to be Cameron Brate – a tight end from Harvard who was on the Saints practice squad weeks ago. It’s absolutely amazing that Jameis Winston took this group of receivers and half strength Mike Evans and went into Atlanta and won the game.

Other notes:

  • Howard Jones had another sack.
  • Gerald McCoy had a quiet day on the stat sheet – just one tackle. But he was in on the last play of the game, putting Matt Ryan in the grasp and hanging on leading to the errant pass that clinched the game.
  • Brandon Myers had three catches for 32 yards.
  • Jameis Winston had a 21 yard run, the longest of his career.
  • Winston has thrown 87 consecutive passes without an interception.

Next week at 4:00 PM ET the Buccaneers host the Giants in Tampa, with the Giants fresh off that Arena league type game in the Superdome in New Orleans (52-49 loss). It is basically my birthday weekend, and my wife’s team plays mine. Both in need of a win to get to the playoff chase.

Great win by the Buccaneers today.

Ace Boogie, Carolina Defense take care of Atlanta in the Georgia Dome

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NFC South Champions 2013 and 2014

[Game Book]

[NFL.com] [Charlotte Observer] [ESPN NFL Nation] [Pro Football Talk]

Cam Newton made it a memorable season yet in what seemed to be a constant in-doubt campaign for the football team in Charlotte. A team that did not even win eight games has a chance at redemption in the second season, as the Panthers defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-3 in Atlanta in a game that was never really close and will be hosting a Wildcard Playoff Game at home on Saturday at 4:35 PM ET.

Newton had the dominant look early, but the Panthers returned two touchdowns for scores and he finished the day just very regularly 10 of 16 for 114 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t turn the ball over and he ran for 51 yards and a score.

The Panthers will host the Arizona Cardinals in a game that is about as good as they could have hoped for; with Arizona missing Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton and down to Ryan Lindley as a starter. The Cardinals have a fierce defense and a coach that gets everything out of them. The Panthers open as a four-point favorite, which I expect to climb by a point or so. I don’t think this is an easy game to handicap outright.

I’m excited the game will open up Wildcard weekend and I can’t wait to see the Panthers playing in Charlotte in their black uniforms in one of the best environments in football. The bottom line is that with all the teams in disarray from year to year in the NFL, the Panthers are in the playoffs for the second year in a row. It says something about their organization – that they’re not perfect but on the right track – and that their quarterback is a winner who is destined for some degree of greatness in this league.

I can’t wait for Saturday. Cam Newton has made it a good couple of weeks here at my home in a year that has been harder to enjoy than ever before as far as football goes.

The Sunday that Cam Newton and the Panthers locked up the two seed in Atlanta

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[Game book]

[NFL.com] [Charlotte Observer – Panthers NFC South Champions] [ESPN NFL Nation] [PFT]

[Newton to Ginn TD] [Newton to Olsen TD]

The Panthers did it. They went into another proverbial Lion’s Den in Atlanta (a place that they felt a haunting, collapse loss fall them in 2012) and won 21-20 to lock up the NFC South title, finish 12-4, and lock up the number two seed in the NFC. This of course means no Panthers next weekend, and two weeks from now they’ll be at home wearing the black uniforms on the national stage hosting anyone from Philadelphia to Dallas to Green Bay to New Orleans. They can’t welcome San Francisco.

But more on today’s game. Cam Newton once again reached way down deep to pull this one out, and even though the Carolina defense won them the game (nine sacks, a defensive touchdown, and held on for the win late) the game’s biggest moments belonged to Cam Newton.

Twice in the game, Newton touchdown passes put the Panthers in the lead. The first one before the half to Ted Ginn, and the second was the final touchdown of the game that allowed them to hang on for the single point win. Newton finished 15 of 27 for 149 yards, the two TD’s and an interception on a tipped ball. He also ran for 72 big yards on 12 carries.

Greg Hardy racked up four sacks and literally would not let his team slip. I cannot wait to see what the Panthers do next weekend, and today the team announced they’ll be wearing those cool all-black uniforms in their home playoff game against either the Eagles, 49ers, or Packers.

Saturday Night Football

I miss Saturday afternoon NFL football (like Drew on Deadspin) on this Saturday when the college season is over. I remember watching the New York Giants (Snowball Game, anyone?) on so many Saturdays just before Christmas growing up. It blended in perfectly with the holiday season. There’s something wonderful about the NFL on Saturday.

Tonight, it’s a showdown in Motown. The Lions and record-chasing Calvin Johnson against the Atlanta Falcons who are trying to lock-up home-field advantage. I got the Falcons in a close one tonight.

Tomorrow is the big showdown between the Bengals and Steelers. The future is now for the team from the Queen City.

Carolina Defeats 11-1 Atlanta in their season Apex Game

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[Game book]

[Cam Newton highlight package] [PFT] [Cam Newton Press Conference] [NFL.com]

This was the game you waited all season for if you like the Panthers. Cam Newton is a star. He’s a star, a star, a star. A great, big shining star. Over his last six games, Cam Newton has accounted for 15 touchdowns and two turnovers, 11 touchdowns. This includes a stretch of four games with no turnovers.

How about that 72-yard touchdown run when Supercam showed his face in Charlotte again?

Today was about Cam and Kuechly. Two young stars on opposing sides of the ball. Cam rifled pass after pass today in successfully reaching a 100 QB rating for the third straight game and Kuechly made 16 tackles, ending the game with a drive in which he made a tackle on five straight plays. Cam made a little history, aside from the rifleman scoring pass to Greg Olsen that closed a perfect 5 for 5 start scoring drive.

It’s a shame to think about what should have been for the 2012 Carolina Panthers. They should have beaten this Falcons team twice; not once. And while they haven’t won many that they shouldn’t have, they can look back to a lot of last-minute losses that should have been wins and have them in the thick of the NFC playoff race. It just wasn’t meant to be.

This game had everything working. DeAngelo Williams was a running back again. Steve Smith got his. The Panthers never stopped attacking, for once.

It was the best Sunday of the year for the team from Charlotte. And then there’s this–Greg Hardy’s rebuttal to Matt Ryan telling the Panthers to “Get the F— off the field” at the Georgia dome in week four.

Carolina Drops a Cleveland-Style Heartbreaker

[Falcons 30, Panthers 28]

[NFL.com] [Cat Scratch Reader] [Inside the Panthers]

[Cam Newton Press Conference] [Ron Rivera Press Conference]

If this one ended as it should have, the post would have come before Sunday ended. As it was, it felt familiar to when I spent Sundays rooting for the Cleveland Browns.

First off, Cam Newton couldn’t have played a much better ballgame. He was outstanding all day long, and a one-man gang in the face of such harsh criticism. From the opening bell you could tell that he was a man on a mission. His 32-yard rush around the end set up a 17-yard touchdown pass to Greg Olsen. Newton went 15-24 on the day for 215 yards, two TD passes and no interceptions. He also ran the ball nine times for 86 yards and a score. While he didn’t turn the ball over, it was his fumble on 3rd down the last series the Panthers had the ball that kept the Panthers from a monumental upset of the Falcons in their dome.

Another thing I’ll take from this game is the efforts of the Carolina defensive line. It was incredible the amount of pressure that they were able to get on Matt Ryan. Charles Johnson had 3.5 sacks while Frank Alexander added 1.5 of his own.

In the end, Ron Rivera couldn’t help himself. He punted the ball to the 1-yard line where ultimately you knew as a long-time football fan that the Panthers sealed their fate at that moment. By playing not to lose football, it was a self fulfilling prophecy for Rivera. No one in their right mind would have questioned him for using his big-bodied quarterback on 4th down and 1 to get a few inches and win the ballgame. There wouldn’t be the amount of second guessing he’s opened himself up to with chips falling as they did.

Instead, the Falcons threw a bomb to Roddy White on the first play from their own one, and Haruki Nakamura got burnt. From there it was elementary football and the Panthers lost their biggest game of the season.

You want to talk about heart? How about this to begin willing your team back from a 24-14 deficit: