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Freeman's clutch TD pass has NFL buzzing

Bucs WR Vincent Jackson hauls in the touchdown pass that forced overtime at Carolina.

 By IRA KAUFMAN | The Tampa Tribune
Published:  November 24, 2012 - 12:00 AM


In a topsy-turvy span of three hours Sunday at Carolina, Josh Freeman tossed his worst pass of the year and launched perhaps the most majestic throw of the NFL season.

Bucs fans experienced the full range of emotions during a 27-21 overtime victory that left Tampa Bay at 6-4 heading into this week's NFC South matchup against the division-leading Falcons.

The Bucs had silenced fans at Bank of America Stadium, cruising with a 10-0 lead late in the opening quarter until Freeman falling backward under heavy pressure floated a pass intended for tight end Dallas Clark. Captain Munnerlyn's 74-yard interception return for a score got the crowd back into the game and triggered a run of 21 consecutive points for the Panthers.

But with Tampa Bay trailing 21-13, Freeman capped an 80-yard drive by throwing a dart to well-covered Vincent Jackson from 24 yards out with only 12 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

"That throw Josh made before the two-point conversion was about as good a throw as I've seen all season long,'' said ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, a former Pro Bowl quarterback for the Eagles who has few rivals when it comes to watching film of every NFL game.

Lined up in shotgun formation, Freeman was slammed by Carolina defensive end Charles Johnson, one of the league's premier pass rushers, as he released the pass down the middle into triple coverage.

"You talk about a guy who is as tough as nails,'' Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said, "in terms of his ability to hang in there and still maintain that downfield focus. Josh isn't a happy-feet guy. He's a tough guy, no doubt about it. Anyone who had any doubts about his level of toughness needs to put that tape on.''

Freeman's vantage point on the touchdown pass was from ground level as Johnson came off the left edge and leveled him a split-second after the ball was delivered.

"I have a job to do each play,'' said Freeman, "regardless of what's happening around me.''

Freeman went on to find Jackson for a two-point conversion that sent the game into overtime, then flipped a winning 15-yard scoring pass to Clark to cap the only possession of the extra session.

Days later, Bucs wide receiver Mike Williams was still in awe of Freeman's long connection with Jackson, who had a half-step on rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly under the shadow of the goalposts in Charlotte.

"I think it's going to be the best pass you're going to see in the next few years,'' Williams said. "That's your No. 1. If Josh threw it a little bit left, it would have been tipped down. If he throws it a little lower, it would have hit Vincent's helmet. It was the most perfect ball I've ever seen.''

Jackson, who signed with the Bucs as a free agent from San Diego in March, also showed remarkable focus en route to his seventh touchdown catch of the year only two away from tying his career high.

"You get a Vincent Jackson, not only do you look at Philip Rivers' negative performance, you look at Josh Freeman's positive performance,'' Jaworski said. "On my quarterback board, going into last week I moved him up from No. 21 to No. 16. If Josh keeps playing the way he's playing, he's going to crack the Top 10.

"The throw he made to Jackson was an absolutely phenomenal throw. It kind of crystallized to me the year that Josh is having. I think clearly Freeman is on his way to becoming a superstar in this league. He's got all the attributes you would want in a quarterback and clearly, those are being refined.''

Good pass.
Quite different from this one.

Yup. He's improved. ...just like you just now stated.

Glad your finally seeing the light.


Cris Carter echoed the same, stating that it may have been the best throw of the year.


--- Quote from: chace1986 on November 24, 2012, 02:00:51 AM ---

Cris Carter echoed the same, stating that it may have been the best throw of the year.

--- End quote ---

Word has it that Beatles123 said it was the best throw he has ever seen!


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