Buccaneers players know the final score of a preseason game normally does not matter.
However, they all felt like winners on Saturday.
Tampa Bay recorded a 17-13 win against Miami, but its biggest victory occurred before the game, when cornerback Aqib Talib was informed he would not be suspended this season by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
After the game, Talib was upbeat as he spoke with reporters.
"I gave the commissioner the rundown on what really happened," Talib said. "My lawyers did a good job of presenting information that he really did not know about. It was a good meeting.
"We definitely respect the commissioner's decision."
Talib, 25, is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, accused by police in Garland, Texas, of firing shots at his sister's boyfriend and trying to hit him with a handgun. The charge is a second-degree felony and carries a punishment of five to 20 years in prison.
His trial is scheduled for March 2012.
While it is possible Talib could face a suspension next season pending the outcome of the case, players were happy to know he will play this season.
"It's good for Aqib," cornerback Ronde Barber said. "How the legal system plays out next year, I'm sure we'll revisit it then. Aqib is a heck of an asset to our football team.
"You hate that he gets in trouble sometimes. It being over helps everybody. We can stop talking about it, though I'm sure (the media) will find a way to continue talking about it. We just want to get moving on. I know he wants to get moving on."
Talib is trying to move on from a history of violent acts since becoming a first-round draft pick by Tampa Bay in 2008.
Last season, he was suspended one game by Goodell for violating the league's personal conduct policy after the Florida Highway Patrol accused him of assaulting a cab driver in 2009. Talib entered a written plea of not guilty, and later reached a monetary settlement with the driver before also entering a pre-trail intervention program.
Talib had a heated confrontation with an NFL official after playing Baltimore last season, swung a helmet at teammate Donald Penn and accidentally hit Torrie Cox instead, plus fought a former teammate at the NFL's rookie symposium.
Despite those altercations, Talib's teammates still love him.
"We need that guy — he's the 'X' factor out there," tight end Kellen Winslow said. "We love Aqib here … great kid, great guy. We're there for him. I'm glad he's not going to be suspended.''
Talib had six interceptions and 50 tackles in 11 games last season before a season-ending hip injury. Three of his interceptions came against Washington.
"He's a great player," cornerback Myron Lewis said. "We need him. We need everybody on the field. We need everybody on defense. With him, it will help us out even more."
Talib has been limited this preseason by a hamstring injury. He does not expect to play against Washington on Thursday but said he will be ready for Tampa Bay's season opener against Detroit.
His immediate challenge is figuring out how to slow down Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, who had 10 catches for 152 yards against the Bucs late last season while Talib was injured.
Preseason wins and losses normally do not matter.
Talib's victory is one his teammates are celebrating.
"It's great for us," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "He played so well. I think he's one of the best corners in the league. Personally, I think he's underrated.
"To have a guy back like that with what we're doing right now, golly, it's extremely exciting."
BUCS AT REDSKINS
Preseason finale: Thursday,
7:30 p.m.; TV: CBS, Channel 10