The Bucs will play their last game of the 2022 calendar year on Sunday night when they take on the Cardinals in Arizona. This primetime game should have been a major headliner of the NFL’s Christmas slate, but both teams have fallen short of expectations this season. Nevertheless, Tampa Bay has plenty to play for as it appears to hold a chance to clinch the division to begin 2023.
Last week, the Bucs played two completely different halves of football. For the first 30 minutes of the game, they took it to the AFC North leading Bengals. They looked competent on offense and matched their points per game average in the first two quarters. The defense also held Cincinnati under 100 yards, leading Tampa Bay 17–3 at halftime. But in the final 30 minutes, everything unraveled for Todd Bowles’ team. A botched fake kick and then turnover on four straight drives doomed them as they fell to 6-8 on the season.
So, on the way to Christmas night, the Bucs hope to avoid a three-game losing streak. The Cardinals come in 4-10, plus they have their number 3 quarterback left. It is a favorable game for the visitors, but that is not much this season. Despite having two games under .500 with three weeks left in the regular season, Tampa Bay is in control of its own destiny in the NFC South. Beating Arizona would mean a win over Carolina in Week 17 puts the Bucs in the playoffs – with a home game in the first round as well.
Aside from those implications, there’s always time to dive into some of the individual milestones and records at stake. Last week, Tom Brady passed Josh Freeman for third-most passing yards in team history, Leonard Fournette passed Doug Martin for sixth-most receiving yards by running back in franchise history, and Chris Godwin passed Kevin House for fourth-most receiving touchdowns of all time.
Where are things heading into week 16? Let’s get into it.
After passing Josh Freeman last week for the third most passing yards in Bucs history, Brady has his sights set on second before the season comes to a close. He needs 975 more yards to pass Vinny Testaverde (14,820) for second in franchise history.
A win over the Cardinals would make Brady the first player in NFL history to record 250 regular season wins, and it would give him two wins to tie Doug Williams (33) second by a quarterback in team history.
Fournette hasn’t found the end zone since the Bucs’ victory over the Seahawks in Germany on Nov. 13. If he can do that against Arizona, he will tie Ronald Jones II (18) for the eighth-fastest touchdowns in franchise history. .
With one more receiving score, Fournette can tie Adger Armstrong, Michael Pittman and Charles Sims (six) for fourth by running back in team history. He would also go on to tie Sims (four in 2015) the most by running back in a single season.
White has 41 catches this season, meaning he’s just seven away from James Wilder (48 in 1981) for third by a running back Bucs rookie.
Evans looked more like himself in the first half of last week’s loss to the Bengals, but he still hasn’t reached the end zone since Week 4. He’s 21 points from passing Michael Husted (502) for second place in team history.
Sunday marks Evans’ 135th career start, leaving him two behind Mike Alstott (137) for sixth in franchise history.
And finally, the 1,000 meter mark is within reach for Evans. He already holds the NFL record for most consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons to start a career, and he can extend that record to nine consecutive seasons with 112 extra yards. He has to cover an average of 37.3 meters per game over the last three weeks of the season to get there.
With his touchdown catch last week, Godwin is now one touchdown of any kind after passing Cameron Brate (33) and tying Jimmie Giles (34) for the fourth most touchdowns in team history. Another receiving touchdown ties him with Brate (33) for third in franchise history.
Godwin is also eight catches away from passing James Wilder (430) for second in Bucs history.
Brate remains one touchdown behind Jimmie Giles (34) for fourth-most total touchdowns and second-most receiving touchdowns in team history. He also needs just seven more catches to pass Giles (279) for the most by a tight end in Bucs history.
Otton needs only four more receptions to put Alex Smith (41 in 2005) in second place by a Bucs rookie tight end.
With his 124th career start on Sunday, Donovan Smith is six behind Warren Sapp for eighth in franchise history.
Sunday will be Gholston’s 151st game as Buc, leaving him seven behind Mike Alstott (158) for eighth in team history.
David will play his 164th career game on Sunday, tying with John Lynch for fifth in team history. It also will be the veteran linebacker’s 164th career start, leaving him 19 behind Paul Gruber (183) for third all-time.
With a sack against the Bengals, David is now 10th in franchise history with 29 career sacks. He needs 4.5 more to pass Jason Pierre-Paul and Brad Culpepper (33) for eighth.
David is now five passes defended behind Carlton Davis (63) for fifth in Tampa Bay history.
With his monster game against the Bengals last week in which he recorded four passes defensed, Davis needs just one more to move Donnie Abraham (64) up to fourth in team history.
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