Bucs win in overtime after blowing lead

by Gary Shelton on December 13, 2021

in general

Monday, 4 a.m.

No matter what your viewpoint to Tampa Bay's great escape against the Buffalo Bills was Sunday, there was ample evidence for you to base your opinion on.

For the optimist, the guy who believes that any minute now, this team will step on the gas and cruise into the posts-season, there was the dominating first half, when Tampa Bay surged to a 24-3 lead and seemed to have the game well in hand.

For the pessimist, the guy who wonders about the lack of a complete game on this team's resume, there was the second half, when Buffalo charged back to force the game into overtime at 27-27. Josh Allen, who ended up with more than 300 yards passing and more than 100 running, continually gashed the Bucs' defense.

And for the realist, the guy who can appreciate the highs and the lows, there was overtime, when Tom Brady hit journeyman receiver Breshad Perriman for a 58-yard touchdown to allow the Bucs to win a 33-27 game. Perriman was acquired on waivers four games ago.

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“Obviously really happy with a good team victory," said Bucs' coach Bruce Arians.

How else can you look at this game except in its totality, the highs and the lows, the successes and the disappointments? At times, it looked as if it were going to be one of Tampa Bay's most solid wins, and at times, it seemed as if it was heading toward one of its colossal disasters.

Said Arians. "I didn’t like the second half – offense especially. Not making third down [conversions], giving the ball back to them and not [staying on] the field. But it showed a lot of our toughness and we had the stop in overtime. Obviously, Tom [Brady] and ‘BP’ (Breshad Perriman) made the big play to win the game, but overall, they’re a really good football team and so are we.”

Start, as usual, with quarterback Tom Brady. In the first half, he was a surgeon, throwing for 216 yards. But he threw for just 82 in the second half. In overtime, he was four-of-four for 82 yards. He set the record for completions by an NFL quarterback, and he threw his 700th scoring pass (regular season and playoffs), but it wasn't his most even performance.

Chris Godwin, coming off his 15-catch performance against Atlanta, had 10 receptions for 105 yards. Leonard Fournette had 113 yards rushing.

The Bucs started well enough, scoring three touchdowns and a field goal on four drives. The Bills, who never used a running back in the first half, had four punts, an interception and a field goal in the first.

But in the second half, everything flipped. Arians blamed the Bucs for not making plays when receivers were open, but Allen's big second half was the reason for the comeback.

"We missed wide opened guys and didn’t covert on third down, so we couldn’t stay on the field," Arians said. "When we ran it, we got a little bit, but we were always third-and-four, third-and-five, third-and-six and punt. Just go back and look at the tape to see what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong."

The highest graded play will be the overtime winner to Perriman.

"It was a great, great play [with a] really good throw," Arians said. "Tom stretched him out in front and obviously he has that great speed and that’s why he’s in the ball game. He’s explosive for us. With this offense, you wait for your turn and when your turn comes you better make the play. You don’t get [any] more turns.

"We ran a good rub route across and he just outran his guy. Tom put it out to where he could stretch him. That’s where that speed comes in. You don’t necessarily have to go down the field, just as much speed coming across and out run that guy.”

Brady was also impressed.

“We had a crosser called, and they kind of jumped Mike [Evans] going across the field," Brady said. "They left B.P. back there and I just picked him up in the corner of my eye and got it to him -- he made a great catch and run. He’s got great speed. Once

"I saw him in the open field, I was ‘Go B.P.! Run!’ and he did. Our defense did a great job at the end the game – holding them to a field goal and got them off the field there to start overtime – gave us a chance and we made a couple plays. We all know we can play a lot better than that.”

Said Perriman: “It was basically a mesh route. It was crazy how it worked. I was supposed to be picking for Mike [Evans], but I went underneath and Mike went over the top and basically picked for me. Tom [Brady] threw an amazing ball and the rest was history.”

The Bucs are home on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints at 8:20 p.m. With a win, they can clinch the NFC South.

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