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Leonard Fournette or Mike Evans | Week 14 Game Ball

Two of the Bucs' core offensive players had huge games on Sunday, but would you pick either of them to get the Game Ball?…Carmen Vitali and Scott Smith make their suggestions for the Game Ball vote

Game Ball

Who deserves the Game Ball for the Bucs' thrilling overtime win in Week 14? Click here to vote!

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their fourth game in a row on Sunday, and in thrilling fashion, and there were plenty of standouts in the 33-27 overtime downing of the Buffalo Bills. For the first time in that winning streak, however, nobody set an all-time franchise record or, say, had four touchdowns on a single afternoon. And that means, for the first time in a month, we have a proper debate as to who should receive our Game Ball.

As we have all season, Carmen and I will be offering our suggestions for the Game Ball after every Buccaneer victory. You then get to vote – with four total choices, actually – and you'll even qualify to win some cool prizes if you do. See the bottom of this article for all of that. Since we are not allowed to pick the same player, the order of selection sometimes matters and it's my turn to go first.

As I said, there are a lot of worthy candidates. We can start right at the very end: Breshad Perriman only had one catch in the game's 65 minutes of play, but it just happened to be one of the most momentous regular-season touchdowns in team history. Can one play win you the Game Ball? Tom Brady delivered that pass, just the second overtime walk-off TD of his career, and also threw for 363 yards and another score, without an interception. He even made some big plays with his legs!

Chris Godwin and Mike Evans had big days, Godwin with his second game in a row featuring double-digit receptions and more than 100 yards and Evans with 91 yards and one of the prettiest touchdown grabs you'll ever see. Leonard Fournette cracked 100 yards again and continued to make his home in the end zone. The offensive line helped the rushing game average 4.7 yards per carry and allowed just two sacks on 48 dropbacks for Brady. On defense, both Shaq Barrett and Devin White had 1.5 sacks of Josh Allen and Carlton Davis was the man on the spot for the Bucs' two huge third-down steps at the end of regulation and of overtime.

So I get first choice out of all that. Let's make our nominations.

Scott Smith: RB Leonard Fournette

Brady and Perriman made the big play at the end to win the game but they wouldn't have been in position to do that if not for the hard work of Fournette. That's very directly true in that he kept the final drive alive with a hard-nosed one-yard run on third-and-one deep in Bucs territory. Fournette absorbed several hard hits on that run up the gut but fought for just enough to get enough to hold up to a replay review.

That was the last of Fournette's 113 rushing yards on the afternoon, as he set a new season high and cracked 100 for the second time in the last three games. His most important run of the day came early, as he took just his second handoff of the day 47 yards for a touchdown seven minutes into the game. On the play, Fournette lined up to the left of Brady, who was in the shotgun. He then took the handoff headed right behind two linemen on a stretch zone run before spotting his seam and cutting sharply upfield. Once he got to the second level, Fournette followed a marvelous downfield block by left tackle Donovan Smith and then turned up the jets. And I mean, really turned up the jets, to the tune of a top speed of 21.29 miles per hour. At that point it became a footrace with safety Micah Hyde, who himself got up to 21.39 miles per hour, but all Hyde could do at the end was push Fournette across the goal line.

That was the Bucs' longest run of the season by a good measure and it helped accomplish what the offense needed to do early – establish the run so that the league's top-ranked pass defense would have to commit more resources to stop it.

Fournette also had a 16-yard catch-and-run late in the first quarter that set up a first-and-goal and led to Ryan Succop's 23-yard field goal. And his 21-yard run in the fourth quarter was the key play in an 84-yard drive that ended in a second Succop three-pointer. Fournette only accounted for four yards on the game-winning drive, but if we zoom out to the full picture, he was absolutely instrumental in the Bucs getting 488 yards of offense and, most importantly, the win.

Carmen Vitali: WR Mike Evans

As much as I want to give Perriman all the accolades here for what was surely the most exciting play of the season so far, I can't undercut the impact Evans had on the game after catching all six of the targets thrown his way. Evans amassed 91 yards on those six catches, giving him a 15.2 yards per reception average but even more than that – those catches came when the Bucs needed them most.

Three of Evans' catches came on third down and helped either extend drives or get into the end zone. You might recall a throw from Brady to the back of the end zone in the second quarter that Evans leapt up to grab with both hands before falling down in-bounds to put the Bucs up 17-3. Yeah, the situation was third and three at the Buffalo 13-yard line. A fitting 13-yard touchdown for number 13. And though Evans didn't get the next score, he was part of the reason it happened. The Bucs were at the Bills' 22-yard line faced again with third and three and it was another pass to Evans that got them to the two, giving the offense a fresh set of downs at the goal line. From there it took two plays but it was Brady that snuck his way into the end zone to give the Bucs a 24-3 halftime lead.

Admittedly the Bucs' offense stalled a bit in the second half but after two punts in the third quarter, Evans helped an 11-play, 84 yard drive that ended in a field goal thanks to a 24-yard grab by Evans and a later 18-yard catch on third down and six. All but one of Evans' catches resulted in first downs for the Bucs.

As an added bonus, even when Evans didn't catch the ball, it was still a positive play. You'll recall he caught six of six recorded targets but there was one that got negated because Evans drew a defensive pass interference call. It happened in the first quarter and was the play before Fournette cruised in on that 47-yard touchdown Scott mentioned above. By my count, that's three touchdowns and a field goal that Evans was either directly or indirectly responsible for and for that, he deserves the game ball.

But that's just me.

Who deserves the Game Ball for the Bucs' thrilling overtime win in Week 14? Click here to vote!

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