It was a stunning 17-16 win for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they stole victory from the jaws of defeat against the New Orleans Saints. After trailing by double digits after the first 55 minutes, the Bucs stormed back in the last 2:40 seconds to steal this game.
In order to do this the team has to be clicking on all cylinders. The defense had to get the ball back and the play makers had to make plays. This included a pair of rookies stepping up with touchdown catches in Cade Otton and Rachaad White.
Of course with so many stars shining brightly down the stretch there were a few key players who flew under the radar. Unsung heroes who the Bucs couldn’t have won this game without. Here are the three who stood out to me.
3. Scotty Miller
The Bucs burner only made one catch on this game, but it was a big one. The score was 16-10 with just under one minute to go. And on a critical 3rd & 6 on the Saints 27 yards line Mike Evans went to the sidelines.
In his place came little Scotty Miller. A man who has made his living as a deep threat in the NFL. However, that would not be what he did today.
Miller ran a slant route into traffic. He caught the ball and took a big hit to give the Buccaneers seven yards and a first down in the red zone. This helped set up the go ahead touchdown about 50 seconds later.
Making that type of tough gritty catch was something Miller hadn’t done consistently in the past and has been criticized for. To come up with that catch in that moment was one of the best seven yard highlights you will see this year.
2. Todd Bowles
Let’s set aside the fact that Todd Bowles punted from the Saints 40 yard line in the fourth quarter while down two scores. I hated that decision almost as much as I hated him punting in a similar situation last week. Gaining just 20 yards on that punt was just the icing on the terrible cake.
Outside of that, Bowles had a really good night. The defense only gave up 16 points despite not having Antoine Winfield Jr or Mike Edwards in this game. That is a reflection of Bowles and what he does for this defense.
He also made the extremely bold call to over rule Tom Brady on going for it on 4th and 10 from their own 25 yard line with 7:06 to go in the game. This after Brady had visibly waved the punt team back to the sidelines.
At the time I felt like it was a tough choice on what to do in that situation. It’s that much more difficult to openly go against Brady on how to handle that moment. However, this turned out to be the right call and the game played out exactly according to plan.
1. Josh Wells
There was a lot said about the loss of Tristian Wirfs this week. That’s only natural when an All Pro caliber player gets injured. This put a lot of pressure on Josh Wells to come in and fill those shoes.
Perhaps pressure is a word I should use because Wells was allowing none of it. Despite going against Cameron Jordan on most plays, the backup offensive tackle went toe to toe with him all night. Jordan recorded just one tackle, which was made about ten yards down field, in the game.
For Wells to anchor the offensive line like this gave Brady the time he needed to pick the Saints apart. Without him the pair of fourth quarter touchdowns would not have been possible. He’s not only the top unsung hero of the game, but he was quite possibly the Bucs key to victory.
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