The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2019 season finale had a very dramatic ending, if not necessarily one enjoyed by the Buccaneers. The same cannot be said of our Turning Point article series. There hasn't been a more obvious final turning point to a Buccaneers game all season.
Still, the Bucs' 28-22 overtime loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday did have some twists and turns during its 60 minutes of regulation before surprise reveal one play into overtime. So let's wrap up the 2019 Turning Point series with a quick look at those ups-and-downs before the last decisive moment.
All this season, we've looked for that final Turning Point in every game. After each Buccaneers contest we identified the moment when things swung in favor of the eventual winner and never swung back. We did so using the "win probability" charts on ESPN.com. At any given point in a 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.
Week 17 Turning Point: Deion Jones's Pick-Six in Overtime
Outcome: Atlanta 28, Tampa Bay 22
· Falcons score a touchdown (Ty Sambrailo reception) at 10:33 of the first quarter for a 7-0 lead
· Buccaneers score a touchdown (Devin White fumble return) at 3:07 of the second quarter for a 14-13 lead
· Falcons kick a field goal (Younghoe Koo) at 0:58 of the second quarter for a 16-14 lead
· Buccaneers score a touchdown and a two-point conversion (Breshad Perriman reception; Jameis Winston run) at 0:11 of the second quarter for a 22-16 lead
· Falcons kick a field goal (Younghoe Koo) at 0:00 of the fourth quarter for a 22-22 tie
· Falcons score a touchdown (Deion Jones interception) at 9:53 of overtime for a 28-22 win
View photos of Tampa Bay's Week 17 matchup against Atlanta.
The Buccaneer started the game as favorites on the win probability chart, with a 62.7% chance of victory, but the Falcons quickly chipped away at that with a game-opening touchdown drive. The Bucs' edge was down to 52.1% after a neutral-zone infraction gave the Falcons a first-and-five at Tampa Bay's 35, and then the line crossed over to Atlanta's side on Ty Sambrailo's trick-play touchdown on the next snap. It was only 55.1% in the Falcons' favor but it quickly climbed as high as 71.9% after a Ronald Jones fumble on the next play and a 12-yard catch by Julio Jones down to the Bucs' 13-yard line.
Tampa Bay's defense held for a field goal on that drive but the Falcons' win probability shot back up to 72.6% when a short punt gave Atlanta another possession in Bucs' territory with two minutes left in the half. However, the Bucs' defense held again, this time forcing a turnover on downs, and the line on the chart started heading back towards the home team's side, if slowly.
Jameis Winston's two-yard touchdown pass to Cam Brate on fourth-and-goal didn't quite get the Bucs the lead or the favor of the win probability chart, but it made both close and when Shaq Barrett recorded his record-breaking sack of Matt Ryan three plays later the line barely crossed over the midway point and the Bucs were 50.5% favorites again for a very brief moment.
As it turned out, Atlanta overcame that sack and took that drive into Buccaneers territory for a field goal and a six-point lead. And when Ricardo Allen intercepted a Winston pass on the next drive and returned it to the Buccaneers' 19, the Falcons' win probability jumped to the highest point it would achieve in regulation, 75.4%.
Then came the one play that could have been the most dramatic win-probability swing in a Buccaneers victory all season. Facing a third-and-goal at the Bucs' 10-yard line, Ryan dropped back to pass but just as he was starting to get his arm up to throw Jason Pierre-Paul hit it, causing a fumble that went forward and got to inside linebacker Devin White on one hop. White snared it and shot off in the other direction, going 91 yards untouched for the go-ahead touchdown. The Falcons were 72.6% favorites on the win probability chart before that play; the Bucs were 61.6% favorites after it, for a swing of 32.2 percentage points.
Atlanta very briefly got the lead and the win probability favor back with a minute left in the first half on another field goal, going up 16-14, but the Bucs quickly answered with a touchdown drive and they would hold on to the lead on the chart from that point through the second half. Younghoe Koo tied the game as time ran out in regulation with a 33-yard field goal, but the Buccaneers won the coin toss and had the ball to start overtime. The chart called the win probability exactly even after that kick but then it swung in the Bucs' favor, to 55.5%, simply due to the home team winning that toss.
Then, of course, came the final turning point. Thanks to the sudden death nature of NFL overtime, Deion Jones' 27-yard pick six could not be countered. In seven seconds, the time it took for the ball to be snapped, passed, picked off and run back, the Bucs' saw their expected chance to win go from just over 50% to zero.