With apologies to the Bee Gees, it’s not as though the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have night fever, night feevaaaaa.
They do know how to do it. But do they know how to show it?
Head coach Bruce Arians’ Buccaneers did win their lone night game in 2019, his first year at the helm in Tampa: 20-14 at Carolina.
This season they’re 1-for-3. The sole victory, on Monday night three weeks ago at the New York Giants, was by the skin of the Bucs’ teeth, 25-23.
They lost in Week 5 at Chicago, 20-19, in a game they had under control early and — in one of the most perplexing results of the 2020 NFL season — three Sundays ago at home the Bucs got blown out by New Orleans, as wholly as the 38-3 score suggests.
Tampa Bay (7-3) plays host to the Los Angeles Rams (6-3) on Monday night in the Bucs’ final scheduled prime-time game of the regular season (8:15 p.m. EST, TSN via ESPN).
Both teams are in the thick of their respective division races in the NFC, with December just around the corner.
The Bucs were so distraught, and shocked, by their across-the-board awful showing against the Saints two weeks ago that Arians decided a change of practice routine might help. That is, if the game’s at night, why not practise this past week at night too? So that’s what they did on Friday and Saturday.
“I thought it was good to be in the stadium,” Arians said Saturday of the odd-timed work under Friday night lights. “Really good practice. Always good to be in there, getting the wind and everything. We’ll find out Monday night if it worked.”
This will be the Rams’ fifth and final road game played in the eastern time zone in their first 10 games, and second in Florida. They crushed the Eagles in Philadelphia 37-19, lost at Buffalo 35-32, blew out the Washington Football Team 30-10 and got roughed up by the Dolphins in Miami 28-17. So 2-2.
Will Rams head coach Sean McVay be glad to stay out west for the remainder of the season?
“Yeah, I’m not going to be sad about missing these four-hour flights,” McVay said. “(The biggest) deal to me is just waiting around all day Monday. That’s the stuff you don’t want. I don’t mind the East Coast trips when you travel and then you get up, play, and then you come back home.
“It’s the waiting around all day. But … I trust that our players will find our rhythm, and we’ve got to be peaking at the right time — at 8:15 on the East Coast and 5:15 in our head.”
The game is a rematch of the quarterback combatants of Super Bowl LIII, in which two stout defences prevented either Jared Goff of the Rams or Tom Brady — then of the New England Patriots — from completing more than a small handful of impact passes.
Few defenders and defensive-side coaches remain from that 2018 Los Angeles team. One is tackle Aaron Donald, arguably the NFL’s foremost defensive performer of the 21 st century. Here’s what he had to say about Brady, arguably the NFL’s foremost offensive performer of the 21st century:
“He knows the game. He knows how to take control of the game. So you’ve got to be smart when you’re playing against a quarterback like that … Ball is out quick. He’s not going to let you really get a clean hit on him … We’ve definitely got to do our jobs as far as when the ball is coming out, getting our hands up, trying to affect the play any way we can to try to make him uncomfortable.”
In that Super Bowl two seasons ago, Brady ultimately hit his current Tampa Bay teammate, unretired tight end Rob Gronkowski, with a pinpoint deep lob for a 29-yard gain to the Rams’ two-yard line. That set up New England’s winning touchdown midway through the fourth quarter in an eventual 13-3 Patriots victory.
B … G.
With further apologies to Barry and the late Maurice and Robin, that’s just one of many cures for night fever the Bucs have in their arsenal.
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