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Wild final play for Bucs vs Falcons is one that they practice

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Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

It came down to one final play at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday. And as crazy as it looked, it’s actually a play that the Buccaneers practice and came very close to pulling off a last-play touchdown in a 34 – 29 loss.

First, let’s set the stage with the particulars.

After Matt Bryant’s amazing 57-yard field goal, on a kick where he injured his right hamstring making it, Tampa Bay knew it needed a touchdown to win.

Without any timeouts, the Buccaneers marched into Falcons territory on two big completions to receivers Mike Evans and then, to Adam Humphries. That second catch by Humphries came in the middle of the field and required Tampa Bay to run up and spike the ball to stop the clock.

Now, with 12 seconds remaining and at Atlanta’s 21-yard line, Winston dropped back under pressure and threw the ball away with 7 seconds left.

That meant there would be one final play, without a timeout, where the Bucs had to have a touchdown from the 21-yard line.

Atlanta was expecting anything and everything defensively, and even put wide receiver Julio Jones in at safety to stand in the middle of the end zone in case there was a jump ball with one of the big Buccaneer receiving targets.

What happened next was something straight out of the Old Cal-Stanford “the band is out on the field” lateral play in their famous 1980s finish with one of the Golden Bears smashing into a trombone player in the endzone for the win.

Watch the final sequence here as Jameis Winston, on purpose, takes off with the ball running towards the middle of the field:

Crazy.

Even crazier, DeSean Jackson is standing by himself on the near side line, and if Mike Evans had gotten him the ball cleanly, he more than likely would have raced into the corner of the end zone with no time left.

And now the craziest, as Winston (shown flinging the ball above) explained after the game on the Buccaneers radio network, it is a play that they practice:

“We prepare for that a lot. The main thing is: don’t get tackled with the ball in your hands. So, give everybody a chance….you can’t go down with the ball in your hands.”

Winston was asked whether he has an option to fling the ball to either side on the play? “Absolutely. The main thing about that play is you cannot get tackled with the ball in your hands. We had a good chance there. It just didn’t turn out how we wanted.”

Further, receiver Adam Humphries, who was the first player trying to pick the ball up after Winston had flung it backwards, had this to say in his post game radio interview:

“They (Atlanta) are in a ‘Sticks coverage’ kind of, on the goal line. They’re trying to guard the out of bounds-trying to keep us in bounds…ran a little draw play, got a lot of options to pitch it back….it had a chance.”

Clearly, the Falcons were confused and were going at the pile and the ball.

One defender, Domontae Kazee, was outside of the pile of players and might have been the guy that could have tackled Jackson had he caught the Evans lateral cleanly. Again, most likely Jackson would have scored had he gotten the ball.

In an amazing offensive day for both teams, and the Falcons deserve credit for the win.

And while there will be a lot of second-guessing on Monday, Winston did get inside the 10-yard line and the Bucs did have a chance at that final touchdown.

Would they have had a better chance lobbing the ball into multiple players and hoping for a penalty? That can be debated.

Still, a lot of times games end in crazy fashions, a broken play succeeds.

And, the Buccaneers almost scored on one has the clock read 0:00 Sunday.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs DE Barrett basked in first Pro Bowl appearance Wednesday

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Off the best pass-rushing season in Buccaneers history, potential free-agent defensive end Shaq Barrett was soaking things in Wednesday in Orlando.

That’s where the NFC and AFC top players have congregated for the 2020 Pro Bowl coming Sunday.

Barrett, who set the Buccaneers single-season sack record with 19.5 this past season, ended up being the lone Buccaneer able to play in the game. This, after receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have both had to bow out due to hamstring injuries.

Barrett got props on day one from one from Cardinals DE Chandler Jones, whom he battled for the sack title all the way down to the final Sunday of the season:

Barrett then got to hangout and sign autographs with the fans assembled at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. The sixth year player out of Colorado State, who was originally undrafted but signed with the Broncos in 2014, then told the media, he’s looking for a big-money free-agent deal. And, further, his preference is that he stays in Tampa Bay.

After all, Barrett surpassed anyone’s expectation in 2019, while playing for a modest one-year free agent deal and betting on himself to cash-in. And now, after his agent Drew Rosenhaus and Bucs GM Jason Licht are done, it appears he will be making in the neighborhood of $18-20 million per year just like the top pass rushers in the NFL.

The Bucs also have the possibility of putting the franchise tag for 2020 on Barrett which would also be valued around that same amount for just the one season.

One final cool moment came Wednesday, where Barrett got introduced to a young Buccaneers fan who’s enduring tremendous family hardship with one parent battling cancer and another suffering from the debilitating ALS disease. After signing an autograph for the young man, Barrett gave him the surprise of his young life with two tickets to next weekend’s Super Bowl in Miami:

And just like that fantastic reward, Barrett will soon be similarly rewarded for his fantastic year and upcoming potential. And most likely, it will be in Tampa Bay for a long time.

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Bucs Evans got respect from LeBron James Saturday night

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The new present day cliche’ for respect among athletes/opponents in sports is: “Game Recognizes Game.” And, there was a neat example of that Saturday night, as the Houston Rockets of the NBA hosted the L.A. Lakers. That’s when iconic NBA star LeBron James of the Lakers came over to acknowledge Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans in the seats behind him.

As you probably know, James is arguably the most recognizable and successful NBA hoops player worldwide in the last 10+ years. He’s a 15 time All Star, a four time MVP, and helped the Miami Heat win two World Championships. And, then came back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who originally drafted him out of high school, and led them to the city’s epic first professional title in any sport in over 50 years back in 2016.

And, LeBron has the Lakers rolling at 34-8 with another win in Houston last night.

As for Evans, he is a Tampa Bay Buccaneers biggest offensive weapon and was having a tremendous 2019 season statistically until it was cut short with a hamstring injury in the Bucs early December win over the Indianapolis Colts.

That’s when Evans suffered a severe hamstring injury on a 61 yard touchdown catch from Jameis Winston and did not play another down in 2019. Still, he joined teammate Chris Godwin, as they both went over 1,000 yards for the season, which was the first time in Tampa Bay history that that happened.

Evans is also only the second player in league history, besides Randy Moss, to have 1,000 or more yards receiving in a season in his first six years in the NFL.

Further, it’s also well-known that Evan is a huge fan of the NBA and he’s originally from Galveston, Texas and play in college at Texas A&M. So, it’s only fitting that he would be courtside during the off-season and the Rockets game against the Lakers.

Evans has made mention earlier in his career that he had met and talked to LeBron James on previous occasions. One reason that Evans brought that up during the season, was his touchdown celebration dance when Tampa Bay outgunned the L.A. Rams in late September.

In that 48 – 40 win Evans caught this clinching fourth-quarter bomb touchdown from Winston and then, celebrated with LeBron James’s signature dance move

James has previously and frequently used that on the court after a big moment, a big win or a championship.

Again “Game recognizes Game,” and clearly James wanted to give some recognition to the Bucs star whiteout Saturday night courtside at his own game.

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