Forty days and 40 nights without Tom Brady were more than enough for the Buccaneers to gain perspective.
“It’s a Super Bowl. Right now, it’s a Super Bowl or nothing,” linebacker Devin White said Wednesday. “We know that. I’ll say that in front of all the cameras. That’s the only goal. That’s what we want. That’s what we after. That’s what we after. We know we’re not there yet because it’s a long season, a long way to go But that’s what we’re fighting for. “
White was a catalyst to Tampa Bay’s championship run two seasons ago. The Pro Bowl LB burst onto the scene during the 2020 playoffs, when the Bucs won three road playoff games on their way to a Super Bowl LV victory.
Tampa had a good chance at repeating in 2021, winning the NFC South with ease and earning a home start for another would-be Super Bowl run. The eventual Super Bowl-champion Rams dashed those hopes in thrilling fashion with a last-second victory against the talented Bucs defense in the Divisional Round.
The heartbreaking loss loomed amid a roller-coaster offseason for White and the Bucs, which included Brady’s retirement and unretirement.
“It took a long time,” White said of getting over the playoff loss to LA “I just knew, I kept telling everybody in the locker room whoever win this game gonna win the Super Bowl because we both had great balance of offense and defense .When we were in the locker room – man, if they had cameras in there – they could tell you, I told them we coming back, we gonna come back.The ball gonna eventually go our way, and it did. think we capitalized on it, but at the end, it was just one missed opportunity. Obviously, can’t dwell on it, but it’s fuel to fire for this year. “
The Bucs will have a chance at revenge versus the Rams in Week 9 this season, and it could be looked at as a necessary hump to get over during their journey towards another Super Bowl appearance in February 2023.
“I always got that one circled,” White said. “We never beat them. I definitely know that. We never beat them. There was a perfect time to beat them when it really, really mattered. But we want to win every game, we want to just show ourselves that we are better. “
The Bucs aren’t taking for granted the availability of their seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback after this offseason. Brady has taken them to the promised land once before, and his Tampa teammates are motivated to take him there once again in order to appropriately bookend the most accomplished career in NFL history.
“If it last ride,” linebacker Shaquil Barrett said Wednesday, “I want to send him out on top of the mountain.”
To reach that mountain, the Bucs will have to beat teams like the Rams and Saints, against whom they are 1-7, including the postseason, since Brady joined the team. Those seven losses account for all but three of Tampa Bay’s defeats since 2020.
“The first thing when I talked to coach (Todd Bowles) when he became the head coach is the teams that we lost to,” White explained, “we need to find a way and we need to emphasize on what we don’t do when we play them, what we don’t do well, and we need to get over that hump. “