For the first time this season, it took more than 60 minutes of football for the final turning point to decide the outcome of a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game.
One could argue that there were only a few players for each team on the field in Seattle when this final turn happened between the Bucs and Seahawks. After a late Tampa Bay touchdown and a missed Seattle field goal sent the game to overtime, the teams' captains gathered at midfield for the second coin flip of the day. The Buccaneers had won the first one, before the start of regulation, and had taken the ball, leading to a game-opening touchdown drive. That went well for the Buccaneers. The second coin flip did not.
Seattle won that toss and elected to receive. Under the current NFL overtime rules, each team is guaranteed at least one possession unless the first team with the ball scores a touchdown. That ends the game immediately, and that's what happened when tight end Jacob Hollister scored for the second time on the day, catching a 10-yard pass from Russell Wilson to conclude a 75-yard drive. Given the hot hand of Wilson – that was his fifth touchdown of the day and his 22nd of the season against just one interception – and the Bucs' injury-depleted and gassed defensive front, such a drive was not a shocker to anyone in the building. Losing the coin flip ultimately meant that the Buccaneers' own red-hot quarterback, Jameis Winston, never got to touch the football in overtime.
According to the game's "win probability" chart, however, the Seahawks didn't really take over as favorites to win the game for the last time until a few plays into overtime. More on that below.
This season, we're looking for that final Turning Point in every game. After each Buccaneers contest we're going to find the moment when things swung in favor of the eventual winner and never swung back. We're going to do so using the aforementioned "win probability" charts on ESPN.com. At any given point in the game, that chart displays the percentage that each team could be expected to win, based on data from similar situations in thousands of historical games. Unless one team gets above 50% at the very beginning of the game and never dips below that mark, there is going to be a single point where the team that eventually wins goes from underdog to favorite for the final time.
View photos of Tampa Bay's Week 9 matchup against Seattle.
Week Three Turning Point: Seahawks Move the Chains in Overtime
Outcome: Seattle 40, Tampa Bay 34 (OT)
· Buccaneers score a touchdown (Ronald Jones run) at 11:30 of the first quarter for a 7-0 lead
· Seahawks score a touchdown plus two-point conversion (Tyler Lockett reception/D.K. Metcalf reception) at 8:03 of the third quarter for a 21-21 tie
· Buccaneers kick a field goal (Matt Gay) at 3:18 of the third quarter for a 24-21 lead
· Seahawks kick a field goal (Jason Myers) at 14:26 of the fourth quarter for a 24-24 tie
· Seahawks kick a field goal (Jason Myers) at 8:19 of the fourth quarter for a 27-24 lead
· Buccaneers kick a field goal (Matt Gay) at 2:57 of the fourth quarter for a 27-27 tie
· Seahawks score a touchdown (D.K. Metcalf reception) at 4:25 of the fourth quarter for a 34-27 lead
· Buccaneers score a touchdown (Dare Ogunbowale) at 0:46 of the fourth quarter for a 34-34 tie
· Seahawks score a touchdown (Jacob Hollister reception) at 6:22 of overtime for a 40-34 win
The Seahawks were 5-2 coming into the game against the 2-5 Bucs and have long wielded a sizeable home field advantage at CenturyLink Field. As such, the line on the win probability chart started out on Seattle's half of the page and stayed there (albeit barely) even when the Bucs took a 7-0 lead. It finally crossed over to the Bucs' side when they made it 14-7 late in the first quarter on a deflected-pass touchdown catch by Breshad Perriman, though the Seahawks claimed it back for a quick moment when they took the ensuing drive into Buccaneers territory.
However, Jason Myers missed a field goal at the end of that drive and the Bucs then went 63 yards for another touchdown, a Mike Evans catch, and with a 21-7 lead they at one point got the line all the way up to 84.9% on their half of the chart. Then the Seahawks rallied before and after halftime and managed to tie the game at 21 each midway through the third period. The line hovered around 50% for about a quarter as both teams hit field goals, bounced down deep into Seattle's half after another field goal and then came back to the middle stripe when the Bucs matched that, too.
The Buccaneers' drive at the end of regulation defied the odds, which had reached 87.8% in Seattle's favor with less than four minutes to go, and when Myers missed another field goal try at the end of regulation, the win probability chart said, "Tie."
It actually took a brief turn in the Bucs' favor when rookie cornerback Jamel Dean broke up a pass intended for Tyler Lockett on the first play of Seattle's overtime drive. The increased possibility that the Seahawks might have to punt on that drive, coupled with the Bucs' own strong offensive showing of the day suggested that things could quickly turn in the visitors' favor.
Instead, they quickly went the other way. Wilson's next pass was complete to David Moore for 12 yards, moving the chains and getting the drive started. The Buccaneers were still given about a 20% chance to win when Seattle got into their territory and on the fringe of field goal range, especially when the Seahawks faced a third-and-six at the 35. That's when the Seahawks converted a third down for just the second time all day, this one on a marvelous spinning and falling catch by Metcalf at the Bucs' six-yard line. The line plunged to 97.3% in the Seahawks' favor on that play, and Wilson sealed the deal two plays later.