Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Top Three Takeaways from Bills vs. Buccaneers

Just a few notes from the Bucs’ dramatic overtime win over Buffalo at home. 

takeaways

1. All the drama.

It was exciting, albeit maybe a little unnecessary. Head Coach Bruce Arians said as much following the game.

"We know how to win," he said to reporters. "I would just like to see us not make it that close."

And for the first half of the game, it didn't look close. The Bucs went into halftime with a 24-3 lead. After punting their first possession they scored on the next four, while the defense forced four punts and recorded an interception while allowing just a field goal. The Bills didn't convert a single third down attempt in the first half (and only converted two of a total of 13 attempts on the day when all was said and done). The offense was outpacing Buffalo 303 yards to 158. They had passed for 214 yards and three touchdowns on the league's top-ranked passing defense and made it look easy.

But then, the tides turned. The Bills were able to climb back in the game in the second half, scoring three touchdowns in four drives at one point while the Bucs managed to tack on just three points.

"I think we just had a mental lapse," said inside linebacker Devin White. "Kind of got overly confident and just expected them to lay down because we had put them down so early, but at the end of the day we've all got to keep playing hard, we've got to play with that same energy that we had in the first half, because teams can crawl their way back in. They're a good team, we talked about it, we talked about them being a wounded dog and that they were going to continue to fight. So we've just got to do a better job on the defensive side of the ball, because 24 points was enough to win and we made it harder than what it was."

Brady wasn't going to let the defense take full responsibility for the close game, though.

"We needed to find a way because we kind of let them back in there with [by not executing] a bunch of plays that were kind of routine for us," said Brady. "Again, execution when it's good, we are tough to stop. When it's not good, they don't have to do much. We had some plays there that were too easy to make, and we didn't make them – but in the end we made enough plays to win."

And therein lies the focus. The Bucs still found a way to win. So the Bills had a good second half? Tampa Bay had set themselves up with a good first half. And then in overtime for the literal tiebreaker, the Bucs came through with an incredible play that probably only happens with a guy like Brady under center.

Wide receiver Breshad Perriman, who became the man of the hour following the play, described it as a mesh concept where he was lined up opposite Mike Evans and supposed to run a shallow crosser over top of Evans' complementary route. The purpose of this, as Perriman explained, was that he was supposed to 'pick' for Evans, meaning by going over top, he was heading off an incoming defender and allowing Evans to get the separation he needed to give Brady a wide enough window. Mesh concepts are used as man beaters for this exact reason. Only, the defender jumped to cover Evans and Perriman ended up running underneath him instead. It put the entire focus on Evans but here's where having a quarterback like Brady comes in handy: Brady doesn't stop at his first read or intended target. If the defense does something, like the Bills did for instance, that the Bucs aren't expecting, there are further built-in options. Brady said out of the corner of his eye, he realized because the defender that was now on Evans went to that side of the formation, there was one less to Perriman's side and Perriman was one-on-one with his man, already gaining separation with his speed. Brady placed the ball perfectly to Perriman who was then able to turn on the jets and get 58 yards into the end zone. Not only had Evans taken defenders with him, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski were both occupying their men and the deep safety was clearly more concerned with Gronk than he was with Perriman, leaving Perriman's side of the field completely empty. It's why the play worked out so perfectly and is a testament to the amount of experience Brady has.

"I would much rather not have it come down to that but in the end they all count the same," Brady said of just his second walk-off touchdown in overtime of his career. "We have to learn from it, and we have to move on. Obviously, we are playing for a division championship next week, which is pretty exciting for all of us."

2. All the records.

Should the Bucs win the NFC South, which looks pretty inevitable at this point, it will be the first time they'll do so since 2007. Yes, they won a Super Bowl last year, but they did it as a Wildcard team – a first for Brady. Another first for him? He's now the only player in NFL history to record 700 touchdowns in both the regular and postseason in his career after that walk-off touchdown in overtime. During the game, he also surpassed Drew Brees for the most all-time completions in league history. You have to hand it to the guy, when he does things, he does them in style.

I think Arians said it best after the game:

"I can't keep up with him. I don't think there will be any records left when he's done."

3. Not all the buzz.

I want to use this opportunity to call a little bit more attention to some specific skill players that all had excellent games this week… and almost every other week as of late, yet I don't think there's enough buzz about any of them. Godwin surpassed the 1,000-yard mark on the season during the game. He followed up his 15-catch performance in Atlanta with another double-digit day, catching 10 passes for 105 yards. Week in and week out, he's a work horse for the Bucs. He has the second-most receptions of any player in the league and has the fourth-most yards through Sunday's games. I guess because he only has five touchdowns on the year, people forget about him but he deserves a lot more recognition for his role in getting the Bucs up and down the field than he gets.

A guy who does have the end zone production? Yeah, Evans. Through Sunday's games, he's tied for the league lead with 11 touchdowns with the Rams' Cooper Kupp. Evans is flirting with his single-season best in the category already, too, and we still have four games to play. He's at 885 yards on the season, meaning he needs just 115 more to surpass 1,000 and extend his own NFL record to eight consecutive seasons to begin a career with 1,000 or more yards. These guys are putting up these numbers while on the same team. I guess that's what happens when your quarterback has the most completions and attempts in the league, while also leading the league in passing yards and passing touchdowns. Sheesh.

And sometimes, when Brady throws that ball, it actually goes to a running back. Where are all the people that wondered if Leonard Fournette could become an effective multi-purpose back? Because guess what? He's about as effective as they come. Fournette has matched his previous single-season high in scrimmage touchdowns on Sunday – tallying 10 on the season so far. Going into the game, Fournette led all running backs in receptions and was one of just three players with over 600 rushing yards and 50 receptions. Against the Bills, Fournette rushed for 113 yards and added four catches for 19 yards.

"I've been an every-down back, to be honest," Fournette said after the game. "A lot of people talk about me catching, but I had [76] receptions in Jacksonville (in 2019) … Just coming here and playing with guys like [Tom] Brady, 'Gronk' (Rob Gronkowski), Mike [Evans], A.B. (Antonio Brown), Chris [Godwin], Cam [Brate] – it's a great feeling. We go out there each week during practice putting in the work. As you can see, it shows."

It certainly does, so can we shine a little more light on it?

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