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Sunday, December 21, 2008
Rapid Reaction: Chargers 41, Buccaneers 24

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

As collapses go, this one could turn out to be epic.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who once seemed destined to become the first NFC South back-to-back champions and a lock for the playoffs, might be done next week. Their return to the comforts of Raymond James Stadium was supposed to cushion the fall from two straight losses.

Instead, they lost to the Chargers and officially went into free fall. The defense was horrible, as it's been for the previous two weeks, and the return of injured quarterback Jeff Garcia didn't make much difference on offense.

You look at the Bucs and you suddenly see turmoil everywhere: Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin is leaving, the defense in general suddenly looks very old and head coach Jon Gruden and Garcia are a loss away from ever being in the same room together again.

Garcia will be gone after the season and there's going to be a lot of housecleaning at other positions. You even have to start wondering about Gruden's future, if the Bucs miss the playoffs. He hasn't won a playoff game since the Bucs won the Super Bowl and four straight losses and not making the playoffs would be a huge disappointment for a team that was 9-3. Ownership once fired Tony Dungy after a season in which the Bucs made the playoffs.

Then again, all that could be moot. The Bucs host the Raiders next week.