Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Happiness Is a Bucs Team That Never Stopped Fighting

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Happiness Is a Bucs Team That Never Stopped Fighting

Article excerpt

TAMPA

Donald Penn was happy. For a man who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 340 pounds, that's a whole bunch of mirth.

"A lot of people could have folded and called it in,'' said the Bucs' left tackle. "We're still fighting.''

Happily so. Not remotely close to sharing Penn's Big Gulp stature, running back Bobby Rainey, too, was happy. Happy and sore. But it sure beat the alternative. Pain free and unemployed.

Somewhere the squirt's former college head coach shared in his joy.

Some guy named Taggart.

Doubly happy was back-up quarterback Dan Orlovsky. Happy he finally got into a game, happy he didn't need a GPS to find the field. Ditto running back Michael Hill -- yes, that Michael Hill.

Indeed, it was a happy group of Bucs that departed the field on Sunday.

The stands at Raymond James Stadium were about 75 percent empty, suggesting the ending to this one didn't merit any happiness at all.

The numbers on the scoreboard indicated differently. Yet again, the Bucs finished with the bigger one.

"We're playing for everybody,'' said linebacker Dekoda Watson, with a blocked punt, another hero on a Sunday stage crowded with them.

"It's not just for coach (Greg) Schiano. It's for the fans and everybody that's in this room, especially inside these four walls.''

Weeks ago, the four walls of the Bucs' locker room could have been outfitted with thick padding. Even rubber. The team was losing, but in many instances, they were co-conspirators in their own demise.

It was maddening. Mistakes were self-inflicted. Leads weren't protected. Heads in helmets were used as weapons, but for little else. Each Sunday seemed to reveal yet another way to lose a football game.

Tampa Bay did it too many times to consider this latest Sunday, as well as the six Sundays that follow, as anything more than opportunities for redemption. Of course, the Bucs aren't going to the playoffs, but does anyone really need to remind them? …

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