Breshad Perriman's teammates call him 'B.P.' Here's one of many examples from the postgame press conferences following the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 33-27 overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills:
"Once I saw him in the open field, I was 'Go B.P.! Run!' and he did," said Tom Brady.
The reason for the nickname is obvious, of course, but after Sunday's white-knuckle win, that abbreviation may have a double meaning. Just call him 'Big Play' Breshad Perriman. BP2.
Perriman's biggest play of the season, most likely of his NFL career, came with just over five minutes left in overtime, after the Buccaneers had left a 24-3 halftime lead devolve into a 27-27 tie at the end of regulation. Tampa Bay's defense got a huge three-and-out to start the extra period but Bills punter Matt Haack boomed a 63-yard kick that went out of bounds at the home team's six-yard line. That put the Buccaneers 94 yards away from the opposite end zone, although at that point a field goal would have won the game.
A field goal would not prove necessary on this fine evening. The Buccaneers got to their own 42 with a combination of a couple Leonard Fournette runs, a timely defensive pass interference flag and a very nice run-after-the-catch by Rob Gronkowski on a second-and-17. That made it third-and-three and the Bucs needed a first down in order to avoid the tough decision of going for it on fourth down near midfield.
Well, the Buccaneers got that first down…and much more. Perriman ran a crossing route from left to right and ended up with a coverage mismatch against linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. Brady hit Perriman in stride and the receiver turned upfield and accelerated 58 yards to the end zone. The Bucs and the home crowd then celebrated a 33-27 walk-off win on just the second overtime touchdown in franchise history.
Let's take a closer look at how that play unfolded with the help of NFL Next Gen Stats.
The first thing to note is that NGS gave the Buccaneers a 56.1% win probability before that play and that the play itself had an expected points added of 1.09. Obviously, that win probability shot up to 100% by the time Perriman was in the end zone, and the play itself had resulted in six points. That added win probability of 43.9% and expected points added figure of 5.91 make Perriman's score one of the most impactful of Tampa Bay's entire season.
The second thing to note is that it took excellent protection from the Buccaneers' offensive line, with some help from running back Leonard Fournette. Brady came into the game averaging 2.51 seconds from the snap to the throw, third-fastest in the league and the fastest for him since NGS started tracking in 2016. On this play, however, he held onto the ball for 3.44 seconds, a virtual eternity by comparison. Brady first looks to his left, where Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski and Mike Evans all end up. Perriman is the only one who ends up going to the right, as Fournette has stayed in to block.
That is sort of the design of the play, although Perriman revealed afterward that he and Evans didn't do their crossing routes exactly as intended. Evans, who lines up to the right but well inside the numbers, is supposed to take his route across the field underneath that of Perriman, who lines up in the left slot after the huddle. However, Evans ends up taking the higher route and cornerback Levi Wallace, who appears to have coverage duties on Perriman to start the play, peels off and goes with Evans. Cornerback Dane Jackson starts the play off in coverage of Evans but falls behind in the wash of the crossing routes.
It is left to Edmunds, who is extremely fast for a 6-4 linebacker but is actually moving in the wrong direction at first, to try to pick up the coverage on Perriman. The confusion is probably heightened for the Bills' defense by Godwin's pre-snap motion. He moves from outside Perriman at the numbers to just inside Perriman to his right. Wallace was lined up over Godwin and nickel back Taron Johnson over Perriman before the motion but Johnson switches to Godwin and Wallace initially follows Perriman, though with about six yards of cushion.
But we'll get back to that. First, more on the protection. The Bills bring five defenders into the backfield after Brady: down linemen Jerry Hughes, Ed Oliver, Efe Obada and Mario Addison, and blitzing off-ball linebacker Matt Milano. With Fournette staying in to block, that's a five-on-five pass-rushing situation. Of those five, only Oliver gets anywhere near Brady. The Bucs' interior blocking trio of center Ryan Jensen and guards Alex Cappa and Ali Marpet keep Obada, Addison and Hughes bottled up near the line of scrimmage and Fournette helps right tackle Tristan Wirfs send Milano around and behind Brady. Addison initially tries to go inside on left tackle Donovan Smith, and when Smith picks that up Oliver stunts around the end. Smith switches and gets enough of him to keep him from getting to Brady in time.
Other than Oliver, none of the Bills' pass rushers get closer than 4.8 yards away from Brady, and since Oliver, who ends up 1.7 yards away and is credited by NGS with a pressure, is coming from behind him, Brady has a clear view of Perriman on his passing route. Actually, Brady happened to catch a glimpse of Perriman, who was not intended to be his first read, and that drew his full attention in a split-second.
"We had a crosser called, and they kind of jumped Mike going across the field," Brady explained. "They left B.P. back there and I just picked him up in the corner of my eye and got it to him -- he made a great catch and run."
Brady's pass technically travels 6.2 yards down the field from the line of scrimmage, but the actual distance of the throw from his hand to Perriman's hands was 18.2 yards and it was in the air for just 0.9 seconds. Because Perriman had a step on Edmunds and Brady had a clear throwing lane, the completion probability of this throw was high, 73.6%.
At the moment Perriman catches the ball, he is running at 15.26 miles per hour, but that won't stay true for long. At this same moment, Edmunds is actually running a little faster than the receiver, at 16.51 miles per hour. Soon, however, Perriman will max out at 20.56 miles per hour while Edmunds won't get above 18.49 miles per hour before he trips at the 25-yard line trying to reach out for the disappearing receiver.
Edmunds makes a valiant effort. At the Bills' 40-yard line he is still essentially matching Perriman's speed at about 18.5 miles per hour each and he's close enough to prompt Perriman to try for a stiff-arm. But then Perriman really turns on the jets and reaches his top speed at around the 25-yard line. He is not touched, as safety Jordan Poyer tries to hustle over to the play but can't get closer than 10.11 yards from Perriman as the receiver cross the 10 and decelerates the rest of the way to the end zone.
Perriman's top speed of 20.56 miles per hour is the third fastest that a Buccaneer has run with the ball in his hands this season. Interestingly, the top play on that list was Fournette's 47-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, as he got all the way up to a top speed of 21.29 miles per hour. On this play, Fournette helped in a different way by picking up a blitz, and Perriman and Brady also got huge help from the offensive line, the play design and a little unexpected route reversal by Perriman and Evans. It all added up to a very B.P. for B.P.