There’s no question that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have gotten hot at the right time, rattling off seven wins in a row following their bye week, including three wins on the road in the postseason.
There is a ton excitement in the city of Tampa now that the Bucs are the first team in history to play in the Super Bowl in their own stadium, but things weren’t always easy this season. Right before the bye, the Bucs were 7-5 after two straight losses and three of their last four, all playoff teams, including a 27-24 loss to their Super Bowl opponent the Kansas City Chiefs.
Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
It was the second half of that game that Arians felt was when things started clicking for the Bucs, as he talked about while appearing on the Rich Eisen show.
“I really saw it starting in the second half against Kansas City.” Arians said. “Things really solidified, and then we got on that run.”
Arians can see a lot of similarities in the Bucs that he saw when he was a wide receivers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers when they won Super Bowl XL as a team that rallied late in the season. He realized it after his wife Christine brought it up.
“My wife made a comment – ‘This team really reminds me of the Steelers when we went to Detroit in the Super Bowl,'” Arians said. “They’re so close. There’s so many similarities, it’s really remarkable. [We] went 7-5 and then won them all, go on the road and win them all, that team was probably the closest group of guys I’ve been a part of until this group. Just the camaraderie on the sidelines, how this team pulls for each other, everybody’s just having so much fund doing it, this team is really, really close.”
The notorious mantra of Arians has been, “no risk it, no biscuit.” And that was no better exemplified in the NFC Championship by deciding to go for it on fourth down from just outside the 40-yard line at the end of the first half. One play after, it led to Scotty Miller’s highlight-reel touchdown to put the Bucs up 21-10. Arians told Eisen the entire thought process that went into going for it, followed by the play call.
“I had to calm myself down from being so pissed that we didn’t make the first down,” Arians said. “So I just hollered, ‘Punt team!’ But as I started thinking about it, I said, ‘We can not come out of this drive after getting this turnover and not get points.’ [I] called a timeout, went through a couple of scenarios, I think at the worst, they might get three points out of this but we’d still have the lead and it’s worth the risk to go after the points.”
Arians then credited offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich with calling the right play since Green Bay expected them to get closer to just kick a field goal.
“I thought Byron had a great idea,” Arians said. “Because that’s exactly what they’re thinking, that they would be sitting in the short stick area, field goal range, so let’s go for the touchdown. Tom, he was out there on the field, he did a great job of completing that ball to Leonard. Byron and I just looked at each other and he said ‘How about this?’ And I said ‘I love it, man, I love it.'”
You can watch Arians interview with Eisen here.