When it comes to the Bucs’ 2020 season, many consider the second half against the Falcons in Week 15 to be the season’s turning point. What many don’t know, however, is how much Jason Pierre-Paul keyed that comeback win.
The Bucs were down 17-0 at the half. The Falcons were absolutely pounding them. One could have easily thought the Bucs had the 4-9 record instead of Atlanta. With the playoffs on the line, the team needed a spark.
As it turned out, the Bucs would receive that spark in the form of Pierre-Paul. He may not have shown up on the stat sheet that day, but he certainly showed up when it mattered most.
“JPP hyped us up,” Mike Evans said on Buccaneers.com’s latest episode of In The Current. “He started calling everybody out, telling them, ‘We can’t do this if we want to make the playoffs. We can’t let this game slip away.'”
The Bucs came out of halftime and scored 21 points in the third quarter. Those points would end up representing the foundation for the Bucs’ eventual comeback win.
It was clear that whatever Pierre-Paul said resonated with the team.
“I feel like losers lose, man,” said JPP. “Losers should lose and winners should win. I think guys get caught in situations saving stuff. You know what I’m saying? [Like] saving for the next play. ‘Oh, next play we can probably do this.’
“Don’t save it.”
That kind of mentality is exactly why Bucs GM Jason Licht traded for Pierre-Paul back in 2018. Two seasons of no playoffs was the limit for JPP. He had enough and he wasn’t going to let the Bucs go into an obsolete January again.
“We went into halftime and JPP was just, on fire,” said Tom Brady. “He was lighting everyone up. Talking about all the different things we needed to do on offense and on defense and showed incredible leadership. Those 30 minutes, I think, changed the whole football season.”
But for the Bucs and Pierre-Paul, it wasn’t just about the comeback. The team found itself in that second half and it instilled the mentality needed to not just move forward, but win the Super Bowl, as well.
“We said, ‘Alright, we’re not letting this get away from us anymore,'” said Brady. “We’re playing like this the rest of the year. We made our minds up that this is what we were going to become over the last quarter of the season.”
You can check out the newest episode of Buccaneers.com’s In The Current here. Be sure to check out a new episode every Wednesday night at 8PM EST.