DLT’s Doubloons – Four-Tuddie Lenny Powers the Buccaneers Past the Colts

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Well, you didn’t think it would be easy, did you? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers pulled off a thrilling come-from-behind 38-31 victory over the tough Indianapolis Colts thanks to four touchdowns from Leonard Fournette and five turnovers forced by the Bucs’ defense.

What I Liked

  • Gronk really getting back into the swing of things with 7 receptions for 123 yds.
  • The Buccaneers defense snagging 5 must have turnovers, four in the second half.
  • Lenny, of course.
  • The Bucs will to win despite an ugly first half.

What I Didn’t

  • A first half that looked like every other game on the road this season.
  • Jamel Dean going down with an injury again.
  • The Bucs’ defense in the second quarter.
  • Tom Brady’s interception.

Pieces of Eight

One

What a road for Fournette. He was cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars and basically was a backup with the Buccaneers for most of the season in 2020. It led to him being depressed and discouraged about his role. Bruce Arians challenged Fournette to buy in or get the hell out and since that moment, he transformed into Playoff Lenny, to Lombardi Lenny, and now, as the Bucs top running back, FourTuddie Lenny.

Fournette won’t make anyone forget Jonathan Taylor or Derrick Henry, but he’s been solid all season for Tampa Bay. He’s improved greatly in the receiving game, now second on the team with 51 receptions for 354 yds and his score on Sunday. Fournette leads the Bucs in rushing with 621 yds and 7 touchdowns. He’s just 379 yds away from 1,000 with six games left to play.

He was instrumental in the Bucs’ win in Indianapolis. With Indy determined to take the Bucs’ passing game away, it was Fournette and Ronald Jones who had to carry the load on offense. The Buccaneers running backs combined for 137 of the teams 142 yds rushing and four touchdowns. Fournette would add another receiving touchdown and finish the day with 100 yds on 17 carries, 3 rushing touchdowns, along with 7 receptions for 31 yds and his first receiving TD of the season.

Fournette’s stellar play will be crucial down the stretch and in the playoffs as we know passing games seem to settle down in December and January and it’s teams that can sustain a credible running game that usually win the day. We may not see too many more 400 yd, 4 touchdown games from Brady this season. Everything gets tighter in the latter months, so Fournette producing will be key for the Bucs to return to the Super Bowl.

Two

The scoreboard said the Bucs defense again struggled on the road, surrendering 31 points. Yet, it was the Bucs’ defense that kept the Bucs in the ball game and then ultimately turned it in favor of Tampa Bay.

The Bucs’ offense started the game cold as ice, with 3 punts and a fumble in their first four possessions of the first quarter. Tampa Bay’s defense responded with three consecutive three-and-outs of their own and surrendered just three points (thanks to a partially blocked punt that set up the Colts deep in Tampa Bay territory on their first drive). The Bucs’ defense would set up Tampa Bay’s first score of the game, forcing a fumble at the Indy 34.

Then, disaster struck as the Buccaneers lost both CB Jamel Dean and star LB Devin White for the remainder of the first half (Dean for the game). This shook Tampa Bay, and the Colts mounted three long second quarter drives that ended in touchdowns, several 3rd-and-long conversions killing Tampa Bay, particularly on the last drive of the half.

Down 24-14, Indianapolis received the opening kickoff and marched down the field again, getting to the Tampa Bay 20. White had returned for the second half, but definitely wasn’t himself. Another score there by the Colts and it could have been lights out for the Super Bowl Champions. Yet Shaq Barrett rose up, turning around the game and perhaps the Bucs’ fortunes on the road with a crucial strip sack of Wentz.  Tom Brady and the Bucs’ offense would take that turnover and get a Fournette touchdown, closing the gap to 24-21.

Next drive, Wentz goes deep on a Bucs’ defense he had burned deep earlier in the game, but this time, Bucs’ safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. made possibly the interception of the season. The 5’9″ safety Moss’d the 6’4″ Michael Pittman, Jr for a crucial turnover, returning it 30 yds to the Bucs’ 35. Brady and the Buccaneers would cash that one in for another touchdown and took over the lead 28-24.

Two turnovers, 14 points, and maybe a 28 point swing in events.  That, folks, is how you break out of a slump on the road.

Yes, the defense got torched by Jonathan Taylor on the Colts’ final drive to surrender a 31-24 lead, but honestly, Tampa Bay was playing the Colts for the pass – which they had done the entire game. Indy basically helped the Bucs by taking the football out of their best player’s hands after he was stuffed a few times early in the ballgame, yet oddly went to him down by 7 with time waning in the game. It worked, as the Colts tied the game at 31 setting up a classic Brady drive to win the game and Fournette sealing the deal with a 28 yd run.

Well, almost…the Colts’ kick return team nearly gave Bruce Arians a heart attack, returning the kickoff 72 yds to the Tampa Bay 32 with 10 seconds left. The defense would have to defend two passes into the endzone, the second, which resulted in Pierre Desir’s interception to wrap up a thrilling win.

In the end, Tampa Bay’s defense produced four turnovers (with a fifth added on a muffed punt) and kept the Bucs’ offense in the game while they struggled to find themselves against Indianapolis. Against a team that had the league’s best turnover ratio by a wide margin, a +3 advantage is unheard of.

Great job, defense.

Three

No one will be happier to see the month of November end than Tom Brady. Brady’s Novembers in Tampa Bay has been very un-Brady like. He has a 4-4 record, with 15 TDs, 11 Ints, and averaging just 267.8 yds passing a game.

It was another underwhelming November performance for the G.O.A.T, completing just 6.64 yds per pass attempt with 1 touchdown and 1 ugly interception on a deep ball and just 226 yds passing, 2nd lowest of the season (the lowest, 220 yds against Washington, was at the beginning of the month of hell).

The good news for the Buccaneers is usually Brady busts out of these November lulls. Last season, the great one was 4-0 with 1,333 yds passing, 12 touchdowns, and 1 interception in the final quarter of the season, and is 60-16 as a starter in his career in the NFL’s final stanza of the regular season.

Four

While we were excited about the outcome, there were some ugly trends in the first half continuing the Bucs’ road woes. Outscored 24-14, Tampa Bay seemed incapable of getting much going on offense, and defensively, the Bucs were determined to force the game into the hands of Carson Wentz and Wentz went crazy on the Bucs’ beleaguered secondary with 3 second quarter touchdowns.

Slow starts have put the Bucs behind the eight ball too many times on the road this season. Now, Tampa Bay rallied and outscored Indy 24-7 in the second half, which is great, but if the Bucs are going to become the road warriors they need to be, especially if Arizona and Green Bay don’t falter down the stretch, the Bucs will face some road tests again in the playoffs.

Five

Man, the Bucs just can’t catch a break with injuries can they? Just when the secondary seemed to finally be getting back healthy, Dean goes down with an upper body injury and it looked like Sean Murphy-Bunting wasn’t feeling too great after that bruising last drive by the Colts behind Jonathan Taylor. Add to that Devin White being in-and-out and clearly limited and Aaron Stinnie going down with a knee injury while playing in place of the already injured Ali Marpet – if the Buccaneers can somehow get to the playoffs intact, it will be a darn miracle.

The good news is it looks like WR Antonio Brown and top CB Carlton Davis should be back soon – they are desperately needed.

Six

If there ever was an “Oh God No!” moment, it was the ensuing kickoff after the Bucs retook the lead at 38-31 with 20 seconds left. I remember thinking to myself, “Damn, if Lenny just takes a knee at the one, this ball game is over, no way Succop misses a 19 yd FG.”

Still, leaving 20 seconds on the clock should be enough to secure the game – if you don’t give up a long return on the kickoff…and they – gulp – did. It led to a harrowing last 10 seconds. Mike Edwards knocking the returner out at the Bucs’ 35 yard line may have saved the game.

So many flashpoint moments in this game, if this happens or if that happens another way, the result could have been so different. It was something to witness for sure.

Seven

It was another good week for the Buccaneers in the NFC South. Tampa Bay moved to three games up on their division rivals with their victory and the Saints getting their clocks cleaned on Turkey Day by the Bills. The Falcons rose from the dead to get a closer than it should be win over the Jaguars and believe it or not, Atlanta is now second in the division. Apparently, Cam Newton isn’t leading the Panthers to the NFC South crown after all. Carolina got curb stomped by Miami and Newton was benched. Whoopsies. The Panthers now occupy the cellar of the NFC South.

In the chase for the number one seed, the Bucs solidified at 3rd overall thanks to the Cowboys’ surprising loss against Vegas. The Rams continued to plummet, getting spanked by the Packers at Lambeau. This left the top-seeded Cardinals, who were on a bye, with a comfortable 2 game lead in the NFC West and the Packers holding on to the two seed. So, no real changes this week, but at least Tampa Bay held serve and stayed in the race.

Eight

Speaking of those revived Falcons, the Bucs head to Atlanta to try and complete their second consecutive sweep of the Dirty Birds. While they ended their ugly two game losing streak where they were outscored 68-3, the Falcons didn’t exactly blow the doors off the Jaguars, one of the worst teams in football, holding on for a 21-14 win. But hey, Atlanta is in 2nd place in the South and a win over the Bucs would be…well, it would be annoying. So let’s not let that happen, okay, Tampa Bay?

DLT’s Who to Root For This Week

NFC Playoff Standings Table
Tm W L T Position Reason
Arizona Cardinals (1) 9 2 0 West Champion
Green Bay Packers (2) 9 3 0 North Champion
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3) 8 3 0 South Champion
Dallas Cowboys (4) 7 4 0 East Champion
Los Angeles Rams (5) 7 4 0 Wild Card #1
San Francisco 49ers (6) 6 5 0 Wild Card #2
Minnesota Vikings (7) 5 6 0 Wild Card #3 conference win percentage
Atlanta Falcons 5 6 0 head-to-head record
New Orleans Saints 5 6 0
Philadelphia Eagles 5 7 0 head-to-head record
Carolina Panthers 5 7 0
Washington Football Team 4 6 0
New York Giants 4 7 0 conference win percentage
Chicago Bears 4 7 0
Seattle Seahawks 3 7 0
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/29/2021.

 

The Washington Football Team can really get into the playoff chase with a win over Seattle on Monday Night Football (which hasn’t been played at the time of this writing).  The Seahawks are barely hanging on in this race and frankly, another loss, and I think they’re cooked.

More importantly, let’s see who the Buccaneers fans should root for this week (besides Tampa Bay, of course).

Cowboys over the Saints – this is one is an either-or. If the Cowboys win, the Saints will be four games back in the NFC South and inch the Bucs closer to clinching the NFC South. If the Saints win, it solidifies the Bucs as a top three seed and keeps the Cowboys down the pecking order. I think, at this point, a Dallas win would be more beneficial.

Bears over the Cardinals – This one has little chance of happening, but hey, it’s the NFL and especially this year, any given Sunday.

Jaguars over the Rams – If the Rams lose to Jacksonville, there will be full-fledged panic in L.A.

With the Packers and Panthers off this week, it’s a light week for games to watch.

Tweet of the Game

 

 

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