It was not the way in which that Tampa bay Buccaneers followers envisioned it, however after an up-and-down season, the Buccaneers are again within the playoffs. A win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon clinched the NFC South for the Buccaneers, locking them into the fourth seed within the NFC playoffs and setting them up for a house recreation on Wild Card Weekend.
All it took on Sunday was one other second half comeback, and classic performances from Tom Brady and Mike Evans, for the Buccaneers to drag out the win.
By nearly any metric, it was the most effective recreation of Brady’s season. The veteran quarterback accomplished 34 of 45 passes for 432 yards (a season excessive) and three touchdowns, posting an NFL Passer Ranking of 127.3 (one other season excessive) and an Adjusted Yards per Try of 10.93 (a 3rd season excessive). However it was additionally the most efficient recreation of Evans’s season, as he caught 10 passes for 207 yards and three touchdowns, all of which have been season-high numbers.
The primary landing connection got here within the second quarter, with the Buccaneers already trailing 14-0. Evans runs a straight go route alongside the proper sideline in opposition to Quarters protection, and simply runs by the cornerback. Brady drops in an ideal throw, and the Buccaneers are on the board:
Nonetheless, the Buccaneers trailed into the fourth quarter, setting the stage for an additional late-game comeback from Tampa Bay. Early within the fourth, the Buccaneers confronted a third and 4 on their 43-yard line. Right here is the route idea that offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich dials up:
This appears to be a variation of the Fish idea, and Brady opens to the left facet of the sector to learn out the three-receiver idea. However each choice to that facet of the sector is taken away from him. He reveals a fast pump faux to attempt to get the protection to chunk on wheel route from Chris Godwin earlier than he breaks vertically, however the curl/flat defender, together with the cornerback, carry that route. Brady then appears to Russell Gage beneath, however linebacker Shaq Thompson drives on that route. Lastly, Brady appears on the dig from tight finish Cade Otton, however each safeties take that away.
So Brady will get to the bottom, the place Evans is working a go route:
Brady will get to the route late within the down, however has time because of the safety up entrance. With the Panthers in Quarter-Quarter-Half, there’s a comfortable spot within the protection for Evans, and Brady hits him in stride for his or her second landing of the afternoon.
After the Tampa Bay protection pressured a punt from the Panthers, it was time for Tampa Bay to take the lead. The Buccaneers began a drive on their very own eight-yard line, however eight performs later they have been on the Panthers’ 30-yard line.
Cue landing quantity three from this pair:
The Buccaneers run a go/out mixture to the proper facet, with Evans working the go route and Godwin working the out route from the slot. Brady flashes a fast pump faux on the out route, maybe making an attempt to affect the cornerback to peel off Evans and “lure” the out route. The Panthers are in Quarters, which may play out like man protection relying on how the routes distribute. Cornerback C.J. Henderson doesn’t chunk on the pump faux, as he’s chargeable for Evans if he goes vertical, however the receiver will get a step on him as he releases downfield. That’s all Brady and Evans want, because the QB drops in one other well-placed throw for the go-ahead rating.
Is that this efficiency sufficient to instill confidence within the Buccaneers because the playoffs loom? Maybe not. In spite of everything, the Buccaneers will host the fifth seed within the NFC playoffs, which may very well be the Philadelphia Eagles or the Dallas Cowboys.
However the Buccaneers at the very least have a shot, one thing that appeared nearly unlikely a couple of weeks in the past. And having the connection between Brady and Evans heating up going into the postseason offers that shot much more of an opportunity come playoff time.