Buccaneers’ latest embarrassment summed up by one key stat
By Asher Fair
Of the 12 NFL playoff teams that competed during this past weekend’s Super Wild Card Weekend, only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers never led.
The NFL added a seventh playoff team to each conference ahead of the 2020 postseason, which resulted in Wild Card Weekend becoming “Super Wild Card Weekend” and expanding from four games, two per conference, to six games, three per conference. Now just one team in each conference, not two, gets a first-round bye.
This year’s postseason is the third under the new format, and Super Wild Card Weekend produced the most drama since the expansion. There were four one-possession games this past weekend after there were five in the last two Wild Card rounds combined.
Through the first five games of the six-game weekend, all 10 teams held the lead at some point. The San Francisco 49ers opened up the weekend with a 41-23 win over the Seattle Seahawks, but the Seahawks held a 17-16 lead at halftime (and a 14-13 lead before that).
The Jacksonville Jaguars overcame a 27-0 deficit to beat the Los Angeles Chargers by a score of 31-30, completing the third largest comeback in NFL playoff history. Then the Miami Dolphins nearly pulled off a stunning upset over the Buffalo Bills. While they fell 34-31, they had a 24-20 lead after Zach Sieler returned a Josh Allen fumble for a touchdown early in the second half.
While the Minnesota Vikings fell to the New York Giants, they scored the first touchdown to take a 7-0 lead. After the Giants tied it up at 7, however, the Vikings never led. They were able to tie the game up at 24 in the fourth quarter, but the Giants scored another touchdown to seal the 31-24 victory, their first playoff win in 11 years.
Finally, the Baltimore Ravens held a 10-9 halftime lead over the reigning AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals. With the score tied at 17 in the fourth quarter, the Ravens nearly retook the lead before a Tyler Huntley fumble at the goal line was returned for a touchdown by Sam Hubbard.
A Ravens Hail Mary attempt on the final play of the game nearly worked, but it ultimately fell incomplete. The Bengals survived, winning 24-17.
Then came Monday night’s game between the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when this impressive streak came to a screeching halt.
The Cowboys scored four touchdowns (and missed all four extra points) to take a 24-0 lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and they never relinquished that lead.
Things did look like they might get interesting, however, when the Buccaneers scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion to make it 31-14 with just over two minutes remaining.
With all three of their timeouts remaining, they recovered an onside kick, and Tom Brady nearly hit Mike Evans for a long touchdown on the first play of the ensuing drive, which presumably would have made it 31-21 — and 15 of those 21 points would have come within a 10-second span.
But another signature Brady comeback was not in the cards, and the Buccaneers ended up being the only one of the 12 teams in action this past weekend which never led, wrapping up a disappointing season that failed to meet expectations in every way, other than winning a weak NFC South.
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