Bruce Arians on Bucs comeback win: Would've gotten 'beat by 20' last year
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wiped out a 17-point deficit against the Los Angeles Chargers in the blink of an eye, scoring on four straight possessions in the middle of the bout to pull off the 38-31 win in a back-and-forth affair.
“I don’t think we were mature enough to win this game a year ago,” defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said Monday morning of the 17-point comeback, per Greg Auman of The Athletic.
The first “maturity” factor that leaps to mind with Tampa was swapping Jameis Winston for Tom Brady. While TB12 had his best game in a pewter helmet, the comeback was kickstarted by Bowles’ defense.
Ndamukong Suh forced a fumble with 40 seconds left in the first half as the Bucs trailed by 17. Linebacker Devin White recovered at the 6-yard-line. Brady tossed a TD to Mike Evans three plays later, and the comeback was on.
The Bucs defense, which struggled at times against big-armed rookie QB Justin Herbert, made just enough plays to give the offense a chance to win the game, forcing the fumble, icing the game with an INT, and generating two sacks.
Bowles echoed Bruce Arians’ thoughts that, a year ago, the Bucs would have been blown out.
“We knew we played poorly. It was just a show of character. I can honestly say, had this been last year, we would have gotten our ass beat by 20,” Arians said. “[With] Tom — he’s never behind in his mind, so we can always make plays to win games.”
Brady and the offense moved up-and-down the field, gobbling up 484 yards and averaging 6.6 yards per play on 73 total plays. After the recovered fumble just before halftime, Brady generated a perfect passer rating (158.3) the rest of the way.
Sunday marked Brady’s first game with at least five passing TD since Week 3, 2017 (vs. Texans) and the first game with five passing TDs to five different receivers in his career. Brady (43 years, 62 days old) unseated Hall of Famer Warren Moon (40 years, 342 days old in Week 9, 1997) as the oldest player in NFL history with at least five passing touchdowns in a game.
It wasn’t perfect for Brady, who threw an early pick-6 that helped dig the 17-point hole. But the GOAT showed he can still spread the ball around like a point guard on the gridiron. That the Bucs rolled up 369 passing yards without Chris Godwin and with Evans not at 100 percent, speaks to the potential for Tampa as the unit begins to gel.
As for the comeback that wouldn’t have materialized last season, Brady clearly brings a confidence that reverberates throughout the organization.
“How can you not believe in him?” receiver Scott Miller said. “He’s the greatest to ever do it. We just needed to go in there and follow his lead. We know he’s gonna get the job done, so we’ve just gotta do what we do and help him out a little bit.”
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