The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are sitting at 3-2 on the season, but their problems continue to mount. The team has been outscored by a combined score of 88-48 during its last three games. Their defense is bad and the offense hasn’t improved enough for them to be competitive in this league. However, it’s not all doom and gloom for them as things appear promising when looking ahead with potential free agent pickups like cornerback Brent Grimes
The “head scratcher” was a play that led to the Buccaneers’ first touchdown of the game. The Bucs were able to capitalize on this mistake, and eventually win their home opener against the Steelers.
There are so many factors that go into determining the ultimate result of legendary NFL games that fans, the media, retired players, and coaches are all left scratching their heads for a long time.
Who thought up these ridiculous overtime rules? With 13 seconds remaining in regulation, why did the Buffalo Bills punt the ball deep? In a 6-6 tie in the second quarter, why did Mike Vrabel go for two?
And why did Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay hand Tampa Bay a lifeline by calling timeout just as the Buccaneers were about to kick it on 4th-and-1 with less than a minute to go in their Divisional Round game on Sunday?
But, following a chaotic weekend that saw four walk-off wins, all of those strange choices are vying for second place. After the Rams’ game-tying score and the accompanying timeout, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles told the world, “Hold my headset.”
After Leonard Fournette knotted the game at 27-27, the Buccaneers’ only chance of losing in the last 40 seconds was for someone like, say, the Triple Crown-winning receiver and league MVP contender Cooper Kupp to go behind the defense and set up a game-winning field goal.
And sure enough, Bowles and Arians called for an all-out blitz that they never needed, Kupp went open, and the Rams are in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
The doubters were out in force within seconds after Kupp’s 44-yard catch. And they were headed by two individuals who had a very near call with the Buccaneers.
Tony Dungy and Shaun King slammed their former squad for making a blunder.
Cooper Kupp | Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Cooper Kupp | Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times through Getty Images
Tony Dungy has some coaching experience and understands how to call defensive plays. His defense was one of the best in the NFL when he coached the Buccaneers in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The last time the Buccaneers and Rams met in the playoffs was in 1999, when Dungy came within a whisker of derailing Kurt Warner’s “Greatest Show on Turf” in the NFC Championship Game due to one of the worst official mistakes in NFL history — the Bert Emanuel catch deemed non-catch.
So, imagine Dungy’s thoughts when Kupp was suddenly wide open and the Rams were still alive. You don’t have to imagine anything. Dungy retweeted it almost instantly:
I didn’t understand the Bucs’ final defensive call. Is it an all-out blitz? Why not simply sit back and wait for them to execute a 15-yard throw in bounds to send the game to overtime? I’m not sure what you’re talking about!
— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) January 23, 2022
Dungy wasn’t the only one who wondered about it. Shaun King, Dungy’s former quarterback from the 1999 Championship Game, virtually stated the same thing three minutes after Dungy’s tweet.
I’ve seen some ridiculous things in football, but Todd Bowles, what was he thinking?
— shaun king (@realshaunking) January 23, 2022
If anyone had hoped that Arians would provide a reasonable response to those questions following the game, they were sorely disappointed.
As only Arians can, he exacerbated a terrible situation by putting his guys under the bus.
“There were a few men who didn’t blitz.”
Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians says there should’ve been an all-out blitz on the play Cooper Kupp broke free for a huge gain. pic.twitter.com/RjVvQnIfOO
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) January 23, 2022
Coach Mike Vrabel could have punished quarterback Ryan Tannehill for his three damaging interceptions in the Titans’ 19-16 defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday, but he chose the high road instead.
When asked what occurred on the play, Arians, on the other hand, has all the tact of a wrecking ball, and instead of admitting that they should never have called for a blitz in the first place, he threw his defense under the bus, blaming the failure on the play’s execution.
“There were some players that didn’t blitz,” Arians said. “It was a full-on assault.” We should have been under a lot of stress.”
It’s worth noting that Arians’ first query was, “How was Kupp able to get so open?” “Did you go on a blitz?”
That query was not addressed, except from the fact that a blitz had been ordered. Rather of accepting responsibility for what had transpired, Arians punted and then drove the bus over his teammates.
On the field, it seemed like there was a misunderstanding, as at least one player who should have blitzed instead fell back into a no-land, man’s leaving safety Antoine Winfield to cover Kupp on his own.
But it doesn’t alter the fact that ordering an all-out blitz in a circumstance where the only way to lose is to lose an all-out blitz was a huge mistake. It became much worse when Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford weighed in on the play.
By reading the blitz and then defeating it with a brilliant strike, Stafford had the final laugh.
Even if everyone on the Buccaneers’ side of the ball understood the message and executed the blitz exactly as instructed, the outcome would almost certainly be the same. Stafford was able to do so because he had read the blitz from the beginning.
Stafford remarked after the game, “I felt it after the snap.” “Kind of sensed it was going to be a full-on pressure situation and was able to position it well.” Coop also made a fantastic grab.”
Stafford knew Kupp would have single-coverage as soon as he saw there was a blitz coming on. In fact, the blitz transformed Kupp from a decoy on the play into the primary receiver, making the blitz choice appear even worse.
“You’re never going to receive the ball,” Stafford said of Kupp’s pre-snap involvement on the play. “All you’re doing is clearing away some space and preparing for alternative ways.” They chose to bring everyone, which was the greatest decision at the time.”
That is, the Rams’ best choice.
Pro Football Reference provided the statistics.
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