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Welcome to a NEW post-game column, where I’ll take a look at the moment the game turned either in favor or against the Buccaneers. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive look at all the reasons the Bucs won or lost, but instead the singular moment where things went north or south for the team.

Setting The Stage

Despite the Bucs second half offensive struggles, this one never really felt in doubt. The game-changing moment of the game might honestly have been Pat O’Connor’s blocked punt on the Broncos first possession of the game, which set the Bucs up for a touchdown less than five minutes into the game.

But the Broncos were still alive with under five minutes left in the second quarter, when the Bucs took over at their own 44-yard line after a Denver punt, up 17-3. Would the play-calling and offensive execution wilt like it did late in the first half a week ago? Or would the Bucs bury the overwhelmed Broncos by coming out aggressive?

The Turning Point

On first-and-ten, Byron Leftwich dialed up a shot play off play-action, a terrific call that set the tone for the whole drive.

Off a split zone play fake, Howard slipped out the backside of the play on a Y-Leak concept, but was alertly picked up by linebacker Joey Jewell. As Howard wheeled down the sideline, Jewell was step-for-step with the big tight end as the Broncos had seemingly snuffed out the play.

But Brady let the throw rip anyway, trusting his big 6-6 tight end to go up and make a play on a beautifully thrown ball. Howard ripped the pass away from Jewell with one arm, working back through the linebacker to make a huge play despite defensive pass interference.

It was a perfect thrown and an incredible circus catch, and the exact type of opportunity I pleaded with the Bucs to give Howard just this past week. He’s a dynamic threat that will definitely mess up at times, but has the ability to make plays that other tight ends just can’t. Use him! On Sunday, the Bucs did and they prospered.

Following Howard’s big catch, it took five plays for the Bucs to find the end zone, as Brady connected with Mike Evans for the second time to put Tampa Bay up 23-3. The Broncos never seriously threatened the Bucs for the rest of the game. Howard finished the game with three catches for 49 yards on a day where Brady spread the ball around consistently, which could be the sign of a developing connection between the veteran quarterback and the former first round tight end.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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11 months ago

That was another pinpoint throw and an INCREDIBLE catch. OJ not only caught the ball with one hand, but also caught the defender’s helmet in the other lol

11 months ago

Anyone who says Brady is washed should be shown this clip. Dude can still ball with the best of them. And a big catch from a TE that has had some drop issue. Great play.

Last edited 11 months ago by PatrioticChief
Reply to  PatrioticChief
11 months ago

Hey Chief, most of that talk was from sore NE fans. Brady still throws a beautiful deep ball. He is getting close to connecting regularly with Miller. That’s going to be fun to watch too. Miller has to be stoked to be catching balls from Brady! Brady is a perfect QB for this Buc offense. He can and will do what needs to be done. It’s just reps. The more he gets the more dialed in he will become.

11 months ago

Yep, was a sensational throw and catch and like the other posters, anyone who thinks TB can’t throw the deep ball any more (yes, I am looking at you Max Kellerman), watch the damned tape!

The turning point for me was even earlier, the O’Connor blocked punt, which set the tone right out of the gate and gave us the ball on their 10 yard line to set up the first score.TB’s deep connection with Scotty Miller also deserves an honorable mention.

11 months ago

That was about as an impressive catch as it gets. I think the guys are finally starting to get used to the fact that Brady will put it right there for you 9 times out of 10. They’ve never had a WB be able to drop the ball exactly where it needs to be. When you can trust the ball will almost always be in the right spot you don’t have to think about anything but turning and catching. The Offense is doing really well but probably still only 60% what it’s capable of. Smith made his typical couple boneheaded… Read more »

11 months ago

We haven’t seen the real Brady yet. He missed some easy throws that he usually makes. I think it’s more to do with him getting more comfortable with the offense, then him declining. I also will say he held the ball longer then he has in the past. I think that also will change with more reps. Think his best is yet to come.

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