The Buccaneers played like Super Bowl champions in the first half, and in the second half, played as though they had already had the game won. They played with little passion and aggressiveness on both sides of the ball until the overtime.
Then something clicked in that OT period, and we saw the team that played so well in the first half come back and play like the team that we saw in the first half.
The Buccaneers dominated play in the first half, outscoring the Bills 24-3. Buffalo could not do much offensively and outside of a couple of Josh Allen runs, the Bucs kept the Bills running game grounded.
In the second half, Tom Brady played what may be his worst half of football in a Tampa uniform. He completed just six of 20 passes and moved the offense down the field just once for a Ryan Succop 24 yard field goal.
The Bucs could not convert on their third downs in the second half. Bruce Arians talked about the play in the second half. “We missed wide-open guys and didn’t convert on third down. We couldn’t stay on the field. When we ran it, we got a little bit, but we were always third and 4, third and 5, third and six and punt.”
Then in the overtime, the Tom Brady we have come to know and love in Tampa returned and hit Breshad Perriman for a 58-yard touchdown pass with 5:26 left in overtime to give the Bucs the 33-27 victory.
Perriman was with the Bucs in 2019 and had some excellent games with Evans and Godwin both out. Bruce Arians never forget that, and when the Lions cut Perriman on November 10th, he was signed to the practice squad.
With Antonio Brown’s injury, he would not have to wait long for an opportunity. Perriman had just three catches before the game-winning catch on Sunday.
Arians talked about Perriman and what he brings to the team. “Man, he had a great year here three years ago, and he was our No. 1 at the end of the year when Chris and Mike were out. He had 100-yard ball games, so we know he can do it. He’s got great speed. He’s big. He’s active in the blocking.”
“With this offense, you wait for your turn, and when your turn comes, you better make the play, or you don’t get any more turns.”
Perriman noticed how calm the sideline was when the game went to overtime. “It’s amazing. I was just kind of looking around, seeing everybody’s reaction to going to overtime. Nobody was worried.”
However, it should never have been this close and never have gone to overtime.
This was not all on the offense. The defense did not play well in the second half as the defense allowed Bills quarterback Josh Allen to seemingly make plays whenever he wanted to, to get the Bills back in the game.
Allen totaled 417 of the Bills, 466 yards of total offense with 308 through the air and 109 on the ground.
What caused the collapse of the defense in the second half? Shaq Barrett gave us some insight in his post-game press conference. “We were expecting them to pass, and they were lining up in pass formations and still doing the quarterback powers and stuff like that, so that threw us off a little bit. But we were able to regroup at the right time and make the plays.”
Along with Devin White, Barrett had the combined three sacks of Josh Allen for the Buccaneer defense.
Barrett now has 36 sacks since joining the Bucs in 2019. That is the third-most in the NFL during that span.
The Bucs will need to learn from this and correct the mistakes to repeat as Super Bowl Champions. Although Leonard Fournette had 113 yards rushing the ball, the Bucs still have problems running the ball at will against good teams to close out games.
In the playoffs, you will need to run the ball to move the chains and run the clock. I’m not convinced the Bucs are there yet.
This was another record-setting day for Tom Brady. Brady surpassed Drew Brees for the most completions in NFL history with 7,136. In overtime, Brady’s pass to Perriman was the 700th touchdown pass of his career, playoffs included.
It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win. Shaq Barrett talked about making some plays and closing out the Bills.
“We were able to just regroup at the right time and make the plays,” Barrett said. “I don’t like the way we played in the second half, but a win’s a win, and we’re going to take our win, just go back and learn from it.”
Bruce Arians summed up the feeling of Buccaneer fans everywhere when talking about the victory over the Bills. “We know how to win. I would like to see us not make it that close.”