Down 13-9, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers needed to drive 60 yards in 44 seconds with no timeouts. Enter Tom Brady. In 35 seconds, Brady led a methodical drive, culminating in a touchdown. From first-and-goal with 13 seconds remaining in the Week Nine clash, the ball was snapped and Leonard Fournette motioned to the left, which deceived the Rams' bunch formation. Cade Otton chipped the linebacker, pivoted, and turned his body around to catch a perfect Brady pass out of the flat, resulting in a 16-13 win at Raymond James Stadium.
"The premise of the play is just to sell the run, and, in that aspect, you have to take pride in the run game and in blocking to set up that play," Otton described. "Everyone executed on that play - the wide receivers did their job, Tom did his job, the running back, offensive line and that is what happens when the team executes. Super thankful for these guys and to get the win."
Five plays prior to the touchdown, Brady hit Otton over the middle of the field for a 28-yard gain, which set up the ensuing score. The chunk yardage play allowed the Bucs to spike the ball and then have enough time to have a few perimeter, quick out routes to move the team into prime position. Otton became Brady's go-to target on the critical drive and the catalyst that sparked the offensive transformation.
"I think it was a lot of relief and so much joy," Otton stated after the win. "I see the work all the guys in this room put in and I felt like we deserved the result. We were working so hard, and it just wasn't happening. It's a team game, so we did it enough to get the win and I'm just so proud to be part of this team."
The Bucs' selected Cade Otton in the fourth round in the 2022 NFL Draft out of Washington and he has made an immediate impact on the gridiron in his first-year campaign – a rarity at the hybrid position. Most rookie tight ends take a couple of years to acclimate to the intricacies that encompass the position at the NFL level. In college, many either solely work as essentially a big slot receiver or as an in-line blocker. The process of learning to do it all to do it all in the league is often a reality check that requires a learning curve.
Otton spent the majority of his collegiate career with his hand on the ground. The grandson of the all-time winningest high school head coach in the state of Washington, Otton is a nuanced route-runner with natural pass-catching ability outside of his frame. He is physical at the point of attack with developed blocking awareness that has translated at the pro level. He plays the prototypical Y-tight end position for the Bucs, with the capability of holding point in the run game and creating an added dimension in the passing game. As a finisher at the catch-point, Otton's versatility creates an added wrinkle to Byron Leftwich's offensive attack. Otton has quickly garnered the trust of Brady - who became the first NFL player to surpass 100,000 passing yards - and has been a consistent player throughout the 2022 slate. As Otton continues to stack games in the NFL, his ceiling will rise. No. 88 has only scratched the surface.