The 2020 season, like any other, was a roller coaster of highs and lows. Hot and cold streaks. Sometimes we get so focused on the results that we lose sight of the key plays that helped shape the season. That’s what this series will focus on: the plays that helped shape the Bucs’ 2020 championship run.
If you missed the Chargers and Bears turning points, be sure to check those out. The third key play in this series happened early in the second quarter of the Bucs’ Week 6 thrashing of the Green Bay Packers.
The Bucs entered Week 6 against the Packers looking for redemption after sleepwalking through much of a 20-19 Thursday Night Football loss to the Bears. The first quarter of the ballyhooed Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers matchup went in favor of Rodgers. The Packers’ signal caller led field goal and touchdown scoring drives to post a 10-0 lead after one quarter. After a Bucs drive fizzled out near midfield, Green Bay took over at their own 22-yard line. After two incompletions, the game turned on 3rd and 10.
The Packers lined in up shotgun, and the Bucs brought five rushers. Davante Adams ran a 10-yard out route, and Rodgers lifted the ball his way. CB Jamel Dean was stuck on Adams like glue. He jumped the route, picked it off, and raced 32-yards for a game-swinging touchdown.
As our own Evan Winter noted in his recent article, Bruce Arians called Dean’s pick-six the biggest play of the year. And, as usual, Arians is correct. Not just for this game, but for the entire season. The Packers’ remaining drives for the game? Spoiler: they weren’t good:
3 plays, 7 yards – interception
3 plays, 0 yards – punt
3 plays, -4 yards – punt
5 plays, 2 yards – end of half
3 plays, 5 yards – punt
9 plays, 23 yards – punt
6 plays, 22 yards – punt
3 plays, -7 yards – punt
By my calculation, that’s 35 plays for 48 yards. Perhaps the most impressive defensive performance by any defense of the 2020 NFL season, to be honest.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneer offense came to life. After Mike Edwards’ interception, Ronald Jones found paydirt from 3 yards out, and the floodgates opened. Brady led methodical touchdown drives on the next two possessions. He distributed the ball all over the field, hooking up with Tyler Johnson and Rob Gronkowski on touchdown strikes. It was 28-10 at the half, and the shell-shocked Packers were done.
The dominating performance showed the Bucs were indeed for real. It surely gave them a huge shot of confidence that not only could they beat the Panthers and Broncos of the world, but they could beat anyone at any time in the NFL. They would go on to win three straight games from here, with a dominating blowout against the Raiders preceding a nail-biting Monday Night Football win over the Giants.
And it all started with a huge play from Dean.