By: Michelle Sabin
Sports Talk Florida
The Buccaneers pulled off a win in the final moments of the game Sunday against the New York Jets.
“We fought until the end and that’s what makes football so great,’ tight end Rob Gronkowski said, “Majority of NFL games go down to the last second. . . You’ve got to play 60 minutes and that’s what we did.”
The Jets dominated from the start. After winning the toss, they elected to receive giving rookie quarterback Zach Wilson a chance to put up the first points.
Wilson completed a few short passes to receiver Braxton Berrios, but it was running back Michael Carter’s 55-yard rush that moved them into the red zone. Bucs Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. was able to separate from his block and make the tackle at the 15-yard line.
Winfield prevented Carter’s touchdown, but it was short lived. The Jets eventually made it to the 1-yard line where they ran a reverse handoff. Carter took the snap, ran left and handed it off to Barrios for the touchdown.
Tampa Bay answered with their own scoring drive that saw Tom Brady target several receivers including Gronkowski, Tyler Johnson and newest back Le’Veon Bell. With the help of running backs Ronald Jones and Ke’Shawn Vaughn, the Buccaneers were down to the 4-yard line where Brady threw a touchdown pass to veteran Mike Evans. The score tied at 7-7.
At the start of second quarter, the Jets cruised through the Bucs defense towards another touchdown. On 3rd and 4 from the Tampa Bay 9-yard line, Barrios broke away from safety Mike Edwards to catch Wilson’s pass along the sideline. Barrios extended over the goal line for a Jets 9-yard touchdown play.
When the Buccaneers got the ball back, Brady targeted Evans on a 31-yard pass and Antonio Brown for a 21-yard play that quickly put Tampa Bay in scoring position. The drive stalled out after Jones was tackled for loss and Brady threw an incomplete pass. The Bucs settled for a 39-yard field goal, but the Jets answered with a 51-yard field goal to bring their lead to 17-10 at the end of the quarter.
The third quarter did not bode much better for the Buccaneers. Despite getting the ball back to start the half, Brady was unable to make progress under the Jets coverage. Meanwhile, New York expanded their lead to 24-10 with a 1-yard touchdown run up the middle by Ty Johnson.
This is where things really got interesting. While the Buccaneers were down 14 points and in the middle of an offensive drive, receiver Antonio Brown decided to leave the game and, apparently, the team.
In a dramatic fashion, Brown removed his pads on the sideline, threw his shirt into the crowd and ran across the field giving the peace sign as he went into the tunnel. After the game, head coach Bruce Arians said, “ He is no longer a Buc. That’s the end of the story.”
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers were on the other side of the field making big plays with their second and third receivers Rashad Perriman and Cyril Grayson to get down to the 7-yard line. After again facing difficulty moving the ball inside the 10, Tampa Bay decided to go for it on 4th and 4. Brady threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cameron Brate to keep the Buccaneers alive.
In the fourth quarter, the Bucs scored a 27-yard field goal narrowing the Jets lead to just 24-20. After trailing behind the majority of the game, it all came down to the final two drives.
The Jets continued to attack with a successful run game, including a 22-yard run by Ty Johnson, that moved them down to the 15-yard line. “I thought some of our young guys were just a little bit confused,” Arians said, “They ran the ball way too good on us. Credit to them.”
However, on 4th and 2, the Jets made the questionable decision to go for the touchdown instead of the field goal. Wilson kept the ball and made an attempt up the middle. He was immediately stopped by the inside line, and linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka came around the outside to make the tackle.
Tryon said, “That last drive it was bend or break. We had to make a decision, and as a defense, we got that fourth down stop. Gave our offense a chance to win the game.”
In under two minutes, Brady targeted receivers Grayson and Johnson as he led the offense 93 yards downfield for the winning drive. Grayson was targeted 5 times completing 4 passes for 53 yards, including the 33-yard touchdown pass. They capped it off with Bell’s two-point conversion up the middle, and only 15 seconds left on the clock.
Brady said, “We literally played from behind the entire day until 59 minutes and 45 seconds. We never got a lead and our defense came up with a huge stop there at the end to give us a chance to go 93 yards.”
It was a team victory, as the Buccaneers scraped by with the win 28-24. Tampa Bay closes out their regular season on January 9 at home against the Carolina Panthers.
The videos used in this story were provided by the Buccaneers Youtube channel.