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Turning The Tide: Breaking down the two plays that determined the Week 16 Bucs-Lions matchup

This game was over quick, but there were still a couple of plays that changed the game in favor of the Bucs.

Lavonte David made one of his signature plays against the Lions.
| Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Turning The Tide is a weekly segment where Evan will pick the offensive and defensive play that turned the game for the Bucs. Whether it was for good or for bad, we will break it all down and tell you what went wrong or what went right.


Antonio Brown’s touchdown reception before halftime

Yep. Brown makes the list for the second week in a row.

It’s hard to pick two plays that really flipped the script in a 47-7 route. Especially a rout that featured a score of 34-0 at the half. But this play not only represents the final play for Tom Brady in this game, but it caps off a near-flawless first half for the six-time Super Bowl champ.

The Bucs received the ball with about 3:20 left in the first half, so there was a good chance they would be able to run their two-minute offense. To be up by four scores going into halftime is any player’s dream, but it’s a coaches’ dream to be up by that much while running your two-minute offense.

Getting to this point wasn’t easy. The Bucs had to convert a fourth down and had to overcome a 1st and 16. Regardless, Brady and co. found themselves facing a 1st and 10 at the DET12.

Tampa Bay comes out in a compressed formation with 11 personnel. Since the Bucs are in the red zone, they have the receivers align in tight splits in order to take advantage of all the available routes on the route tree.

This play starts with the pass protection. The Lions send four and are in man coverage. Brady has great protection and has a nice pocket around him. He’s able to take the time to process the Lions’ defense and the pocket created by the offensive line allows him to step up and put the needed velocity on the throw to Brown.

The rest is Brady and Brown. The Pro Bowl snub manipulates the safety Duane Harmon with his eyes, which opens the throwing lane just enough for him to fire a missile into Brown’s gut. Brown shows tremendous concentration and hauls in the touchdown pass.

Watch Brady move the safety with his eyes:

And of course, we can’t leave out the ever-wonderous broadcast angle:

It’s a good play design. Chris Godwin hits the flat and Cameron Brate takes the middle of the field. Since it’s man coverage, their defenders follow them, which helps open up the throwing lane for Brown. Once Brady sees that Brown is able to win inside leverage off the line of scrimmage, it’s over.

This play put the Bucs up 34-0 and it officially signaled game over for the Lions. And the Bucs, to an extent. Brady was given the rest of the day off and didn’t take one snap in the second half.


Lavonte David’s forced fumble on the first play of the second half

There’s not much chance of coming back from a 34-0 halftime deficit, but the break represents a great opportunity for a team to get its head together and at least put together a solid two quarters of football. I mean, you don’t have to look further than Week 15 Bucs-Falcons for proof of that.

The Lions were desperate for a spark coming out of halftime. At this point, it was just about respect. You don’t want to get embarrassed in your own backyard like they were at the time.

Well, things didn’t go exactly to plan for the Lions. In fact, things couldn’t have really gone any worse than they did.

Detroit comes out in 11 personnel and in the shotgun formation on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. The Bucs are in their nickel defense and what looks to be one of the single-high defensive formations (Cover 1 or Cover 3).

The play ends up being a run to the right, but Tampa Bay’s defense isn’t fooled, especially Ndamukong Suh. The defensive lineman takes on his double team and is able to hold the line of scrimmage. This enables LVD to make the play.

LVD not only takes on his blocker —who is a 312-pound offensive lineman— but sheds the block and strips the ball out of D’Andre Swift’s hands. This is so much fun to watch, especially if you’re a fan of good defense. Which I’m sure many Bucs fans are.

The refs initially rendered Swift down and blew the play dead, but the Bucs challenged the ruling and the initial call was overturned. The Bucs took over just outside of the red zone and Blaine Gabbert threw a touchdown to Rob Gronkowski on the subsequent play. That put the Bucs up 41-0 and officially sealed their postseason fate (in a good way).

Which play do YOU think turned the tide in favor of the Bucs? Let us know via the poll/comment section below!


Which play turned the tide in favor of the Bucs the most?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    Antonio Brown’s touchdown reception
    (74 votes)
  • 47%
    Lavonte David’s forced fumble
    (66 votes)
140 votes total Vote Now
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