The Bucs experienced a night so remarkable, both for good and bad, you’d be hard-pressed to sufficiently sum it up in a tidy lede, but I’ll try: Put Tom Brady in the Hall of Fame tomorrow.
Down 13 with 3 minutes left in the game, Brady and the Buccaneers overcame terrible coaching decisions and generally lackluster execution to forge an inexplicable 17-16 comeback victory over the New Orleans Saints — the first home win against their division rival since 2017 and first season sweep since 2007.
The Bucs had been 0 for their last 69 when trailing by 8+ in the fourth quarter, until the Saints made some horrible calls of their own (punting on 4th and 1 on the plus side of the 50??) and Brady flipped on the afterburners to keep this half-lifeless team in the NFC South driver seat — it’s a ramshackle seat jury-rigged with economy duct tape and children’s glue, but it’s a seat nonetheless.
Trailing 16-3 with 5:34 remaining in the game, the Buccaneers had just a 0.7% chance of winning.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) December 6, 2022
The Buccaneers late-game comeback goes down as the 4th-most improbable of the Next Gen Stats era (since 2016) based on the NGS win probability model.#NOvsTB | Powered by @awscloud pic.twitter.com/9i9GTEqjFW
Let’s give some shout outs before bedtime:
Offensive Top Performer: QB Tom Brady
Such a shock, I know.
Brady struggled through three quarters, missing several guys deep and looking petrified to take any sort of hit behind a weakened offensive line. With 7 minutes left while down 16-3, the Todd Bowles even chose to punt in a dire situation. Given how New Orleans’ defense had performed to that point, it seemed like a do-or-die moment.
Well Tampa’s defense somehow got the ball back and Brady decided to casually complete 14 of his final 19 passes for 118 yards and two scores, absolutely dicing a Saints’ defense that was not playing full prevent. A touchdown to Cade Otton brought the deficit to 6, and then another defensive stand set the stage for the final 63-yard march.
.@CadeOtton hauls it in for 6️⃣— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) December 6, 2022
: #NOvsTB on ESPN pic.twitter.com/lFn19Mmj2D
Brady connected on beautiful passes to Scotty Miller and Julio Jones before hitting Godwin for the tying score...until it was called back due to a Donovan Smith hold. As time clicked down to mere seconds, an underneath pass to Rachaad White put the finishing touches on the comeback.
Overall, No. 12 finished 36 of 54 for 281 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. It was his 44th career fourth-quarter comeback, which broke a tie with Peyton Manning for most all time — because if there’s one thing Brady needs more of, it’s all-time records. Without him, this is a 3-win team at best, so it’s incredible that he’s still pulling these performances out of his 45-year-old ass.
Fire those cannons, baby!— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) December 6, 2022
: #NOvsTB on ESPN pic.twitter.com/r4t1nV3fnz
Chris Godwin again looked strong with 8 catches for 63 yards, and it should’ve been more with the game-winning tuddy if not for Smith’s terribleness. Mike Evans also reappeared with 4 catches for 59 yards, and he also drew a massive pass interference in the endzone to set up the first touchdown.
The rookie White again gets props, too. He fumbled earlier in the contest but recovered to make several key catches, including the game-winner of course. He finished with 6 receptions for 41 yards, as well as 9 carries for 28 yards.
Defensive Top Performer: LB Lavonte David
David is a machine who simply does not quit. Always reliable, he put up 12 combined tackles — two for loss — and a sack to lead a unit that once again needed to dig deep to keep this game within reach for a sputtering offense.
Lavonte David- this guy - has lived in the backfield for a decade - 121.5 run/pass stuffs - only Junior Seau had more since we've tracked them#NOvsTB #WhoDat #BucsNation #GoBucs pic.twitter.com/B2ZvrvWHPR— ᑭᖇO ᖴOOTᗷᗩᒪᒪ ᒍOᑌᖇᑎᗩᒪ (@NFL_Journal) December 6, 2022
That said, he did have some help this time around. Carl Nassib made some excellent hustle plays, including a sack on the final Saints’ possession. No one is going to mistake him for Nick Bosa, but Nassib gives it his all and he delivered when the team needed him most.
DROPPED ‼️— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) December 6, 2022
: #NOvsTB on ESPN pic.twitter.com/63WB1wjs1i
Keanu Neal also gets big props for laying a massive hit on Taysom Hill on a critical third down to dislodge a sure first-down catch. Neal, who made five tackles, has his liable moments in coverage but is still a hammer.
Special Teams Top Performer: K Ryan Succop
This was far from a banner performance from special teams.
The coverage unit allowed multiple big returns, including a 42-yard punt return, and Jake Camarda produced his worst outing in weeks with two touchbacks that absolutely needed to be dropped in play.
So by default, ole reliable Succop gets the nod here. He nailed his field goal attempt and made sure those extra points sailed between the uprights. Remember, those are far from givens anymore and even one miss would’ve screwed the comeback attempt. Good job, Succop!