The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trailed the Atlanta Falcons 17-0 at halftime on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, and then 24-7 after each team scored on its first possession of the second half. From that point on, Tampa Bay outscored its opponent by a 24-3 margin, earning a 31-27 victory that put the Buccaneers on the brink of qualifying for the playoffs.
The rally tied for the second largest comeback in a victory in Buccaneers franchise history. Tampa Bay came back from a 21-point deficit to beat the Chiefs in Kansas City on Nov. 2, 2008 for the team's largest comeback ever; Sunday's game was the eighth time the team has dug out of a 17-point hole to win. But by at least measure, Tampa Bay's latest comeback is its most impressive one ever.
As noted, the Falcons took a 24-7 lead in the third quarter when they answered Tampa Bay's touchdown drive with one of their own. The Falcons scored with 7:34 left in the third quarter and the Buccaneers took their next possession 75 yards for another touchdown to close the gap back to 10 points with 3:34 left in the period. That is the latest the Buccaneers have ever trailed by 17 or more points and still won a game.
Here are all nine times Tampa Bay has won a game after trailing by 17 or more points, listed chronologically, and the point in the game in which they finally cut into that lead:
· Sept. 9, 1979, at Baltimore: 10:39 left in the second quarter
· Jan. 2, 1983, vs. Chicago: 5:05 left in the third quarter
· Oct. 4, 1987, at Detroit: 14:49 left in the second quarter
· Nov. 2, 2008, at Kansas City: 2:13 left in second quarter
· Nov. 23, 2008, at Detroit: 11:19 left in the second quarter
· Dec. 27, 2009, at New Orleans: 0:00 left in second quarter
· Sept. 18, 2011, at Minnesota: 10:59 left in third quarter
· Oct. 4, 2020, vs. L.A. Chargers: 0:22 left in second quarter
· Dec. 20, 2020, at Atlanta: 3:34 left in the third quarter
The Buccaneers have now won three games this season in which they were trailing as they entered the fourth quarter. That is tied with Chicago and Minnesota for the most victories this year in that situation. The Bucs, who also beat the Los Angeles Chargers in Week Four after first falling behind 17-0, are responsible for two of the eight biggest comebacks in the league this year. They are the only team to have erased two deficits of 17 or more points to win this year.
Tom Brady led the thrilling comeback by throwing for 320 of his 390 yards and two touchdowns in the second half on Sunday. That is the most yards that any quarterback in the NFL has thrown in a second half this season.
Most Second-Half Passing Yards, Single Game, NFL, 2020
Brady threw touchdown passes to Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, the latter a 46-yarder in the fourth quarter that provided the game-winning points. That increased Brady's 2020 touchdown pass total to 32, which currently ranks fourth in the NFL.
Most Touchdown Passes, NFL, 2020
Those two touchdowns also put Brady on the verge of breaking the Buccaneers' single-season record in that category, which was set just last season by Jameis Winston.
Most Touchdown Passes, Single Season, Buccaneers History
Brady's 3,886 passing yards this season are also the fifth most in a single season in franchise history and, with two games still to play, he seems very likely to move into second place on that list by season's end.
Most Passing Yards, Single Season, Buccaneers History
Brown's touchdown catch was his first as a Buccaneer but hardly the first of his career. He has caught 76 scoring passes since entering the league with Pittsburgh in 2010, the third most by any player in that span and the most by a wide receiver.
Most Touchdown Receptions Since 2010, NFL
|Jimmy Graham||TE||4 teams*||80|
(* Graham has played for the Saints, Seahawks, Packers and Bears.)
Godwin's touchdown was the 21st of his career, which allows him to join Mike Evans and Cameron Brate on the Buccaneers' top 10 list for touchdown receptions.
Most Touchdown Receptions, Buccaneers History
|Dave Moore||TE||1992-2001; 05-06||24|
Evans did not find the end zone against the Falcons, which means he remains at 11 touchdown catches on the season, just one off his own team record set in 2014 and 2016. However, he did lead the team with six catches for 110 yards, giving him the 27th 100-yard game of his incredible career. Evans has owned that team record for a long time; the next closest player on the Bucs' list is Mark Carrier, who had 15 career 100-yard games as a Buccaneer. Since he entered the league in 2014, Evans has more 100-yard receiving games than all but three other NFL players.
Most 100-Yard Receiving Games, NFL, 2014-20
Evans' 110 yards in Atlanta pushed him over the 8,000-yard mark in his career, as he now stands at 8,039 with two games to go in 2020. That is more than 3,000 more than the next player on the Buccaneers' career list, Carrier, who finished with 5,018 receiving yards. Evans' total is the third-most in the NFL since 2014, with Brown just behind him.
Most Receiving Yards, NFL, 2014-20
Brate didn't score against the Falcons either but he did move up a spot on the Buccaneers' all-time receptions lists for tight ends. The only tight end in franchise history who has more catches than Brate is Ring of Honor member Jimmie Giles.
Most Receptions by a Tight End, Buccaneers History
|Dave Moore||1992-2001; 05-06||184|
All of those offensive players contributed to the Buccaneers' thrilling second-half comeback, but it wouldn't have been possible without a strong showing by the defense after the intermission, as well. The Falcons gained just 108 yards in the second half, including just 23 on their last five possessions, and they were held without a first down on four of those six drives.
Leading the charge was inside linebacker Devin White, who led the team with 12 tackles and added 3.0 sacks, four tackles for loss and two passes defensed. White joins Jets safety Marcus Maye (at Buffalo, Sept. 13) as the only players in the NFL this season to have multiple sacks and multiple passes defensed in the same game. White is the only player this season to record at least three sacks and at least two passes defensed in the same game.
In addition, according to Stathead, White is the only player in the NFL since at least 1999 to have multiple games in which he recorded 10+ tackles and at least three sacks.
White's three-sack game was actually his second of the season, as he accomplished the same thing at Las Vegas in Week Seven. He is the only player in the NFL to have more than one three-sack game in 2020. White now has many three-sack games as Hall of Famer Warren Sapp recorded during his nine-season tenure in Tampa.
Most Games with 3+ Sacks, Buccaneers History
|Lee Roy Selmon*||1976-84||4|
(* Pro Football Hall of Fame members.)
White is also third in the NFL in total tackles, with 130, just six off the lead.
Most Tackles, NFL, 2020
White increased his season total 8.0 sacks, which is tied with teammate OLB Shaquil Barrett and five others for 11th in the league. In addition, OLB Jason Pierre-Paul is tied for seventh with 9.5 sacks. The Buccaneers and Steelers are the only teams in the league to boast three different players with at least eight sacks so far this season. Only the Buccaneers and Steelers (T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree) have even two players with eight or more sacks.
With those three leading the way, the Buccaneers have recorded 43 sacks, which is already tied with the 2002 championship team for the fifth most in franchise history. The Bucs need only five more sacks in the last two games to move as high as second on that list, though the top mark of 55 by the 2000 squad is probably out of reach. The Buccaneers are tied for the fourth most sacks in the league this season.
Most Sacks, NFL Teams, 2020
2t. L.A. Rams…44
4t. Tampa Bay…43
Kicker Ryan Succop scored seven points in Sunday's win on four extra points and one 27-yard field goal. Succop has now made 21 straight field goal attempts, the second-longest streak in franchise history. Connor Barth set the record across the 2011-12 seasons with 25 in a row. Overall, Succop has made 25 of his 27 field goal tries this season for a success rate of 92.6%. He has a chance to surpass the Buccaneers' all-time single-season record in that category.
Highest Field Goal Percentage, Single Season, Buccaneers History