With 12:52 remaining on the clock in the third quarter of Sunday's game, rookie quarterback Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense decided to gamble on first down from their own 43-yard line, and run a trick play. The play was a designed throwback to Josh Freeman from second-year running back Clifton Smith, who received the ball on a direct snap from center Jeff Faine. The result was an overthrown pass behind the line of scrimmage, and a loss of six yards on the play after the ball rolled out of bounds.
Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris shed some light on why the gadget play failed during his Monday night radio show on 620 WDAE.
"It was kind of a double pass," said Morris. "Clifton intercepts the snap, runs across, and he's able to throw it back to Josh because he has a great arm, just not on that play."
Morris said that Smith had thrown the ball in front of Freeman, but because it was behind the line of scrimmage, the ball was ruled a fumble when it bounced out of bounds. This may have had to do with 15-25 MPH winds, which completely took the ball away from Freeman, according to Smith.
The first-year head coach said that if Freeman was able to catch Smith's pass, he would have thrown it deep down the field, hoping to catch the Packers' secondary off guard and find an open receiver.
"The trick play would have been great if it would have worked because it would have been a play from the 50-yard line that would have really lit the crowd up," said Morris. "You just want to take your shots and that was an opportunity for us to take our shot and try to manufacture a big splash play by the offense. We got the ball back there at the 50-yard line right at midfield where you have an opportunity to change the dynamics of the game."
Trick plays are a very common occurrence in the NFL, but many times don't turn out according to the way they were originally planned, which was the case on Sunday during the Buccaneers' 38-28 win over the Packers.
"We see it every week," said Morris. "We see all of the great offenses in the league that come out and execute their offense and usually have some type of trick play in there. It's usually a flea flicker or a throwback pass or something like that. You see the creativity of the great offenses in the league and you're talking about [Indianapolis], the Saints, and the Patriots."
The Saints, Patriots, and Colts are ranked first, second, and fourth, respectively, in total offense this season, and Morris says that some day the Bucs want to play like those teams on the offensive side of the ball.
"They all have that creative wrinkle in their offense," said Morris. "I know people think I'm joking, but we want to be like those guys that have the offense that people look for and are excited to watch. We had a little glimpse of it in the fourth quarter which was fun."