December 27th, 2009
It was a pure French Quarter fantasy.
It was a miracle of Mardi Gras proportions.
In a matchup of the meek against the mighty it was the meek who inherited the Super Dome in New Orleans on Sunday.
It was the meek of the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who stunned the mighty, the New Orleans Saints in one amazing overtime stunner.
It was a 20-17 stunner courtesy of a meek, previously unemployed kicker named Connor Barth who joined the Buccaneers late this season and provided the reality of what might have been a Raheem Morris dream.
“I told him last night (Saturday) that we would win by three and he would win it for us,” Morris said after the improbable Tampa Bay victory.
A premonition by Morris?
“No,” Raheem admitted, “a guess!”
Morris guessed right and his team played its most complete game of the year to come away with its third win, a second straight and this massive upset of the playoff-bound Saints.
This unlikely Buccaneer victory seemed even more improbable given the early 14-0 lead the Saints held. It looked like another beat down of the Buccaneers was in the works.
Still seemed that way at the half.
Still seemed that way after three quarters with the hot-shot Saints up 17-3.
Then things got miraculous in those last 15 minutes.
Cadillac Williams, whose resurgence is nothing short of miraculous, scored early in that final quarter from 23 yards out then another of the meek, previously unemployed Michael Spurlock fashioned a stunning 77 yard punt return that tied it up at 17 and left the New Orleans crowd reeling at the thought of these lowly Bucs stealing one from their mighty Saints.
Surely the Saints would drive for the winning field goal in the last two minutes. Surely Garrett Hartley would hit that 37-yarder with but a few seconds to play.
Surely he would.
Wide left and the door was wide open for those lowly Bucs and instead of the Saints marching in, the Bucs decided that on this day, they would.
Miraculously, the Bucs would win the overtime coin toss then drive the ball on the ground, right down the Saints’ gullets. There were 10 plays, nine runs by Cadillac for 40 yards and an eight-yard scramble by Freeman that set up Barth for that 47-yard throat shot to the mortally wounded Saints.
Stunned were the now 13-2 Saints.
Ecstatic were the 3-12 Buccaneers.
“It was great to see good things happen for us at the end,” said young Josh Freeman.
And it was surely a “WOW.”
Just like Raheem said it was.
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