If you have been a Buccaneers fan for any decent length of time, you probably have a handful of favorite moments you can replay at will in your mind. A highlight reel that runs on the back of closed eyelids, perhaps even with the echo of an excited announcer's call. Your own Sportscenter Top Ten.
Maybe it's Derrick Brooks picking off that Rich Gannon pass late in Super Bowl XXXVII, putting "the dagger" in the Oakland Raiders, as Gene Deckerhoff put it. Maybe it's Mike Evans making that one-handed sideline catch against the Falcons and somehow hanging on while getting his clock cleaned. Some of your mental highlights may be about the magnitude of the moment, like Ronde Barber's pick-six to shut down the Vet. Some may just be memorable because of the sudden shocking visual, like LeGarrette Blount leaping over a tackler.
Whatever they are, they're all yours.
But do you ever wonder how reliable your memory is. Are you sure Brooks was cutting from right to left when he made that Super Bowl-sealing pick? And do you have all the details? Do you just remember the moment of Evans getting hit, or can you picture the route he took to get to the spot of the catch?
To put it another way, do you think you could identify that big moment simply from seeing the path of the players involved as the play unfolded? That's what we're going to find out in our new Path to Glory series here on Buccaneers.com. We've selected a handful of plays from Buccaneers history, most of them since the turn of the millennium, and reduced them to diagrams. We want to know if you can recognize the specific plays from those diagrams.
Here's how it's going to work. First we'll show you a field with the paths of the players involved drawn on it, but without any other identifying characteristic. You've probably already noticed the first one below; resist the urge to scroll farther down until you've tried to guess what memorable play it depicts. Some diagrams will show just one player's path, others will outline the motions of several players. If the football travels in the air between players during the play, that will be shown with a dotted line.
After you've had a chance to guess the play from the first diagram, we'll provide you with some hints and then show it to you again with a some more details to help those who weren't able to pinpoint the play initially. Then, as your reward for guessing the play, we'll finish up with an animated diagram and the actual video clip of the play.
So, here's your first Path to Glory:
Can you tell which play is being depicted? Let's break it down a little bit. The short dotted line that begins the play is clearly a shotgun snap, so the player that receives the ball there is the quarterback. He then apparently goes meandering around the field on a lengthy scramble, even briefly retreating behind his own goal line.
Meanwhile, the other player's path starts off in a well-defined route but then becomes rather improvisational. Could this be a receiver who, seeing his quarterback extending the play by quite a bit, heads off in another direction as part of a scramble drill?
The long dotted line is clearly a deep pass, and it seems to find its mark. As we'll show you on the more detailed diagram below, the opponent is the Chicago Bears and the score of the game at the time is 17-10 in the Buccaneers' favor. The game is from the 2016 season. Can you place it now?
Let's take a look at the second diagram, which also includes the jersey numbers of the player's involved:
We call this play "The Scramble" and the principals involved are quarterback Jameis Winston and his favorite target, wide receiver Mike Evans. There were also a bunch of frustrated Bears defenders involved, not depicted here, such as the various pass-rushers who failed to get their hands on Winston and the defensive back who leaped at the end but not as high as Evans did.
The game was at Raymond James Stadium and the Buccaneers would go on to win it, 36-10. However, the halftime margin was just 17-10 after Jay Cutler had hit what was essentially a 50-yard Hail Mary to Cameron Meredith as the second quarter expired. The home team got the ball first to start the second half but quickly fell into a third-and-10 at its own 23. That's when Winston took a shotgun snap and quickly had to vacate the pocket due to pressure. His scramble took him increasingly backward, which is usually not a good strategy, and it started to look particularly dire when he reversed direction several times and ended up in the end zone. A safety was a real possibility and that would have made the game very close indeed.
Instead, Winston avoided some more tacklers, got out of the end zone and spotted Evans sprinting downfield. He stopped just long enough to get off a deep heave, and it found its target, with Evans adding his own great play on the end to haul it in at the Bears' 38. On the very next snap (after a delay-of-game penalty on the Bucs), Winston hit Freddie Martino on a 43-yard touchdown pass and the rout was on.
Now watch the play unfold on this final diagram:
And here's how it looked and sounded:
So now you've seen the path that Winston and Evans took to glory on that very memorable play from just two years ago. Please come back each week to see if you can identify another unforgettable Buccaneer moment simply from the play's diagram.