Going South: Bucs clinch division title

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson If the finale was any indication, complacency won’t be a problem. Tampa Bay was assured a playoff berth when the Giants beat the Raiders on Saturday night, but needed to beat the Saints (3-13) to finish a worst-to-first division turnaround that few envisioned when the season began. The Bucs lost 20 of 32 games and missed the playoffs the past two seasons, the first team in NFL history to win the Super Bowl and then post losing records the following two years. “That was one of our goals, to win the NFC South, and we found a way to do it,” cornerback Ronde Barber said. “Regardless of what 2004 was all about, 2005 gave us a new opportunity. Everybody jumped at it, believed in it, worked for it.” Joey Galloway has been a big part of the transformation, rebounding from injuries that sidelined him part of 2004 with 83 receptions for 1,287 yards, including TD catches of 7 and 4 yards from Chris Simms on Sunday. TAMPA, Fla. – Even as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were slipping into hats commemorating their first NFC South crown in three years, linebacker Derrick Brooks was issuing a stern message to his teammates. “It’s just the first leg of the championship – division, conference and Super Bowl,” the nine-time Pro Bowl selection said Sunday after the Bucs beat the New Orleans Saints 27-13 to guarantee themselves a home playoff game. “As good as this feels, we’re looking to feel even better next week.” Tampa Bay (11-5) will play host Washington on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium, where the Bucs are 6-2 this season. “Everyone feels the same way we feel, that their chances are just as good as ours,” Brooks said. “If everybody is not feeling that way in this locker room, I hope to have a conversation with them.” center_img The loss was the 11th in 12 games for the Saints, who essentially played all 16 games on the road after Katrina forced them to flee New Orleans for San Antonio. “This is not a 3-13 football team. They’ve been through a lot,” New Orleans coach Jim Haslett said. “I’m not happy with our record. But if you could have seen the circumstances, the things they went through, you’d be proud of this team.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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