Despite the rest of the Bucs doing their best to give the game back to the Colts Sunday afternoon, Leonard Fournette said “Nope, we’re not losing” and scored four total touchdowns to lead the Bucs to a 38-31 victory in Indianapolis over the Colts.
Indianapolis quarterback Carson Wentz and the Colts turned the ball over a whopping five times, including four in a second half that saw Tampa Bay score 17 unanswered points to start the half (the Bucs outscored the Colts a total of 24-7 in the second half).
Those turnovers started on the first drive of the third quarter, with the Bucs down 24-14, when Carson Wentz was strip-sacked by Shaq Barrett. The Bucs’ offense turned around and scored a touchdown on a (surprise) run by Leonard Fournette.
The Colts got the ball back and proceeded to turn the ball over again, this time on a Carson Wentz interception. The Bucs, again, responded with a touchdown, this one coming from Ronald Jones.
Then the Colts simply punted the ball away, but when the Bucs went three-and-out the following drive, returner Nyheim Hines muffed the Bradley Pinion punt and recently returned receiver and special teams guy Scotty Miller recovered, setting the Bucs up for a chance to go up 35-24.
Instead, the Bucs offense settled for a field goal, and the Colts came back and tied it at 31-31.
Tie game, Tom Brady at quarterback, with over three minutes to play. This time, as opposed to that Saints game where TB12 threw a pick, he allowed Fournette to do his thing, and the Bucs drove down the field easily and scored a touchdown to secure a key victory.
The Bucs defense still looked leaky, giving up five third down conversions and almost 400 yards of total offense, but they came up with five takeaways—desperately needing every one of them.
Offensively the Bucs didn’t look like their usual explosive selves, but they were steady and able to do what they needed to do. Brady only had 226 yards passing and a single touchdown, with an interception to boot. Tampa Bay got an outstanding day out of Gronk, who had seven catches for 123 yards, plus the aforementioned Fournette had 100 yards rushing to go along with his four trips to the endzone.
The best way to describe this victory was (as much as I hate to use this overused phrase that has become meaningless) “complimentary football.” Neither the Bucs offense nor its defense played super well, but they both did enough good things at the right times to come out with the win.
And that’s all that matters, right? The Bucs are looking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, and the way to get there is certainly through trying to get the highest seed possible. Their struggles on the road have been obvious this season, with all of their losses coming away from Raymond James Stadium.
Obviously last season they were able to go on the road for all their playoff victories (except the Super Bowl), but they’ll need to get hot at the end of the season again for that to happen again.
Regardless, this was an important victory for the Bucs to get, one where a lot of things went wrong for them but they still managed to pull out a tough victory. Guess we didn't need Antonio Brown for this one after all.
Fire those cannons.