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Jags fans aren't alone


It could be worse. You could be a Tampa Bay fan today.

Hey, what was that last night? Are you kidding me? Homefield advantage and a first-round bye for the playoffs was on the line and the Bucs weren't ready to play?

How do you call a team out for the second consecutive year and lose to them, again, on your home turf? Maybe Lee Flowers is right. Maybe the Bucs are "paper champions."

Jaguars fans wanna know why their team gave such a poor effort this past Sunday against archrival Tennessee. It's a fair question. Sunday's performance shamed a season of trying hard, and it's no excuse that the playoffs were not at stake for the Jaguars. These are professional football players and they draw the same paycheck regardless of a game's significance. Their effort should also be the same.

In the Bucs' case, significance filled the air. They are a team attempting to take one more swing at the Super Bowl. They've mortgaged much of their future to take that swing; parting with a significant portion of their future drafts in having hired Jon Gruden.

With a win last night against Pittsburgh and with a win this Sunday at Chicago, the Bucs would've earned a first-round bye. More importantly, they would've avoided having to play in Green Bay in the playoffs. And if Philadelphia was to lose to the Giants this Saturday, the Bucs would've avoided having to play anywhere in the postseason other than in the warmth of home.

Consider these facts: The Bucs are 0-21 in their history in games when the temperature has dipped below 40 degrees, and they are 0-6 in their history in road playoff games. Do you think they should've had some motivation to wanna not play in Green Bay in January? Do you think the Bucs should've been up for last night's game against the Steelers?

Early in the week, defensive tackle Warren Sapp made a point of angering the Steelers. Sapp made sure his teammates would be focused when he called out Flowers and the Steelers. The table was set, right? The Bucs were going to have smoke coming out of their ears for the Steelers, right?

They did, in the pregame. Sapp taunted the Steelers and there was a brief scuffle, and the Monday night air was electric for the start of a game between two bad-boy teams.

But the Bucs "stayed" in the locker room. They left their game-face in the pregame. Pittsburgh went 80 yards lickity-split in their first possession, then returned an interception for a touchdown a few plays later and dominated the game as though the Bucs were out of playoff contention and had already packed it in.

The moral of the story is this: Jacksonville isn't the only town in the NFL where the fans are perplexed.

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