Already assured of a first-round bye and home field throughout the NFC playoffs, the Atlanta Falcons didn't have much to play for in their Week 17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but for Bucs fans watching their season come to a close, the win was impressive and reassuring nonetheless.
Over at Bucs Nation, the bloggers had their faith restored by a team that gave an all-around performance in the 22-17 victory to close out the season.
The Buccaneers had an all-around good game for the first time in weeks. The defense was surprisingly strong against the pass, the offense clicked, Josh Freeman had one of his good games and Doug Martin got going on the ground and through the air as well, racking up 142 yards and a touchdown.
Even more impressive for the bloggers was that despite the possibility that there was a lack of motivation on the Falcons' side, Atlanta played its starters the whole game. But overall, Bucs fans saw a tighter performance against stiff competition.
Josh Freeman had his most impressive game in four weeks, despite a bad interception and several bad drops by various wide receivers. He was still a little inaccurate at times, but he showed once again that he can play well. ... This was an offense that looked more like its explosive mid-season version, than the plodding, inconsistent unit we saw in recent weeks.
At the end of the game, the thing that stuck out most to Tampa Bay fans was a team whose performance clearly divided them from a team that went 4-12 last season, this team, which finished 7-9, didn't quit.
In the end, this game was meaningless. Nothing was at stake. But the Buccaneers did show that they weren't folding, that they still had a competitive team. In other words: they showed that despite a five-game losing streak, this is a different team from last year's.