Just how big was Jamel Dean's interception at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' eight-yard line with less than four minutes to play in Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals? Before Dean got his hands on that Kyler Murray pass, the visiting Cardinals had a 90.6% chance of victory.
Dean's play was perhaps the biggest one of a back-and-forth affair that saw seven different lead changes or ties. It was the second time in the second half that Tampa Bay's defense had stopped a Cardinals drive with a takeaway, and in Dean's case it also gave the ball back to the offense for what would prove to be the game-winning drive.
If you were charting the ebb and flow of the Bucs-Cards Week 10 game, which included four turnovers in the last 17 minutes, a daring and successful fake punt by Arizona on its last scoring drive, and a rare overturn of a non-call of pass interference at the goal line, you'd almost certainly point to Dean's pick as the point where the tide surged back in the Buccaneers' favor.
And maybe that's true. It certainly kept Arizona from closing the gap between that 90.6% chance of winning and the final 100% death knell. But if we're looking for the points where the pendulum swung to Tampa Bay's side for the last time, that actually occurred a couple minutes after Dean's takeaway.
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 10 matchup against Arizona.
Week 10 Turning Point: Barber Powers Game-Winning Drive into Red Zone
Outcome: Tampa Bay 30, Arizona 27
· Cardinals kick a field goal (Zane Gonzalez) at 11:13 of the first quarter for a 3-0 lead
· Buccaneers score a touchdown (Ronald Jones run) at 3:42 of the first quarter for a 7-3 lead
· Cardinals score a touchdown (Christian Kirk reception) at 1:03 of the second quarter for a 13-10 lead
· Buccaneers score a touchdown (O.J. Howard reception) at 0:08 of the second quarter for a 17-13 lead
· Cardinals score a touchdown (Christian Kirk reception) at 8:10 of the third quarter for a 20-20 tie
· Buccaneers kick a field goal (Matt Gay) at 9:44 of the fourth quarter for a 23-20 lead
· Cardinals score a touchdown (Christian Kirk reception) at 7:22 of the fourth quarter for a 27-23 lead
· Buccaneers score a touchdown (Peyton Barber run) at 1:43 of the fourth quarter for a 30-27 win
The Buccaneers started the game on their home field as clear favorites, with the win probably chart opening at 72.0% in Tampa Bay's favor. Even when Arizona intercepted Jameis Winston's second pass of the game and opened the scoring with a field goal, the line stayed on Tampa Bay's side. It did dip to 55.9% when Winston fumbled on a Chandler Jones sack on the Bucs' second drive, but center Ryan Jensen fell on the loose ball, the Bucs scored a go-ahead touchdown a few plays later and that line subsequently hovered in the 60-70% range on their side for most of the first half.
The win probability line finally got very close to even when the first of Christian Kirk's three touchdowns gave Arizona a 13-10 lead, but it quickly swung back to 64.7% in the Bucs' favor after Winston responded with a quick two-minute drill and a touchdown pass to O.J. Howard.
Arizona finally got the line on their half of the chart in the third quarter, not after tying the game at 20-20 but a few minutes later when Winston missed on a deep ball to Mike Evans and the Cards had the 53.0% edge.
That's when the wild swings took over for the remainder of the contest. To wit:
· It was 58.2% in Arizona's favor after Jordan Hicks intercepted a pass in the third quarter and gave the Cards a golden chance to take the lead.
· It swung to the Bucs side at 50.8% just a few plays later when Lavonte David forced and recovered a fumble by David Johnson.
· After Matt Gay gave the Bucs a 23-20 lead and Kyler Murray missed on a third-and-10 pass on the ensuing drive, the win probability chart indicated a 70.4% chance of victory for Tampa Bay.
· But that immediately fell to 55.7% when the Cardinals pulled off the aforementioned fake punt.
· That fake punt kept alive a touchdown drive that put Arizona up by four points and dragged the win probability line back to their half of the graph. After a Ronald Jones fumble and a subsequent drive that got all the way to the Bucs' 15-yard line on a 24-yard Larry Fitzgerald catch, we finally get to that 90.6% moment noted above.
Dean started the comeback and Chris Godwin's 49-yard catch-and-run on the very next play pulled the Cardinals' win probability down to 60.4%. That was the biggest play on a 92-yard drive, but the one that made the Buccaneers favorites to win for the final time was actually a handoff. After a pass-interference call made it first-and-10 at the Cardinals' 27 with 2:49 to go, Peyton Barber got that handoff and blasted around right end for a 14-yard gain to the Arizona 13.
The game was still in doubt, and the Cardinals managed to get two stops after another pass-interference call made it first-and-goal at the one. But the odds were still heavily in the Bucs' favor at this point and Barber put the nail in the coffin with a touchdown run around left end on third-and-goal. Arizona was still showing a 10% chance to pull out the win at that point, but the odds held out in the end.