Third Down Dominance

January 25th, 2021


A team converting third downs tells Joe something.

It tells Joe the team is moving the ball and eating clock. And one reason the Bucs came out swinging so well in the first half yesterday in the game that launched them to their second Super Bowl was that the Bucs were converting third downs at a crazy rate.

Kevin Patra of has the details.

You could compile a highlight of just the third-down plays from this game, and it would be an exciting affair. The Bucs came out converting their first five third downs of the game, including a gorgeous teardrop from Brady to Evans for a TD. Tampa converted 9-of-14 third downs on the day. Part of the plethora of third downs came from the struggles on early downs, but Brady made plays early on the key down.

Aaron Rodgers was strong on third downs, as well. In fact, he converted one less than Brady. And the Bucs defensive stop associated with that one more third-down failure was huge, maybe the biggest stop of the season.

Late in the game with the Packers marching and down eight points, Green Bay had the ball on the Bucs-8, a first-and-goal. Rodgers tried three passes; the last two to All-Pro receiver Davante Adams were successfully defended.

The Packers chose to kick a field goal and that it was it for Green Bay. The Bucs manned up on defense when they absolutely positively needed a stop.

31 Responses to “Third Down Dominance”

  1. Roy T. Buford Says:

    The beauty of yesterday’s Red Zone stops for TDs by the Bucs were that the Packers are so good at Red Zone, and the Bucs made key stops where needed…a difference of six points (at least) if I recmember correctly. That meant the game points margin right there.

    Got an email from the Bucs rep about chance to win in a drawing, the opportunity to purchase SB tix at face value. Can’t transfer or resell. I wish I knew how many they were offering season tix holders. At “market rates” upper corner packages with “virtual fan experiences” start at $8500 per person, while 50 YL club seats are about $18K. So it’s great they are offering free tix to amolts 7K medical pros who have been vaccinated. But I was told last week most of those will go to those in the Bay area, so that will hopefully bring out Bucs fans.

  2. james west Says:

    one more boys, LFG BUCS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Priscilla Prenner Says:

    Commenting for posterity. What a great moment we all witnessed yesterday. BA’s decision to call TO at the end of the first half while GB had the ball and time to drive further for a FG seemed like the obvious wrong call to me at the time. When Rodgers through the pick, and Brady hooked up with Miller, that was one of the more fortuitous swings I’ve seen in a game where I was pulling for the team that capitalized. Just a great day and a great win. Time for a few guys to heal and get ready for the game of all games!

  4. Señor Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    Joe, two stories are needed. First, a take on the decision by GB to take the ball out of AR hands and, implicitly, trusted the GB defense over AR. What a CRAZY decision.

    Second, the strength of GB was their secondary. The Bucs (surprisingly) shredded it: 9 of 14 first downs. We did not run the ball as much as I expected (I don’t think). Great game, what balls, lol.

  5. Usedtocould Says:

    It’s fun watching a good team. Has realist been locked in remedial grammar lessons???

  6. Mitch Says:

    Joe! Chiefs starting left tackle tore his Achilles last night. That’s huge.

  7. SteveK Says:

    Go Bucs!

    One more game, and excited to have big Vita in the middle of our Defense. Go Bucs, and let big Vita wreak havoc. Everyone eats bc Vita collapses the pocket. His game is beautiful and raises our D to another level.

  8. Bird Says:

    So glad we have another bye week (2 weeks) before Super Bowl!

    -We missed winfield bad so he should be healthy
    -We missed whitehead for sure. He made one of plays of the game causing fumble and quick td pass
    -rojo looked slow so im guessing he needs to get healthy
    -AB has best hands on team so we need him healthy
    – vita vea will get cardio/ strength back with another 2 weeks
    -mike evans will get two weeks to find out how to catch. Jk
    – stinnie gets two more weeks to continue to jell

    Joe – any word on whitehead?

  9. Señor Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    Just watched Aaron Rogers presser. The flip side of what we feel… AR feels “gutted”. It does not appear AR is a big fan of the call by Lafluer for the field goal… lol. THANK YOU Lafluer!!!!!😘

  10. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Glad we won, but totally shocked Lafluer went for the field goal.

  11. adam from ny Says:

    i thought about this a few weeks ago when they announced the pro bowl selections, and we only had one…jpp…

    what if we go to the superbowl and have just jpp in the pro bowl…?

    it didn’t seem right then and even more so now…it doesn’t seem correct…


  12. AMI_Chris Says:

    Keep the drives moving…take time off the clock….keep Brees / Rodgers / Mahomes off the field. We did that really well in the first half…not so much in the second half. I’d like to see a safety valve receiver get open a bit more than we seem to. But no complaints from me today!

  13. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    For the exception of the Fournette TD, our running on 1st down up the gut failed miserably……Rojo was stopped almost every time & there’s nothing wrong with Rojo or our Oline.
    What I don’t understand is the following empty backfields, preventing play action.
    Nevertheless…..we had success on 3rd downs.

    Once again, Tyler Johnson comes up big….and Scotty Miller tracks down another long pass…..they will be instrumental in our Offense’s future success.

  14. SteveK Says:

    We are going to ball control the Chiefs. Run, run, pass, run, screen.

    And, we have big Vita on D. He’s going to manhandle the OLine and our pass rush will ignite.

    Double Cheetah, and make sure that LvD and DWhite are able to lay wood on Kelce and other ball carriers over the middle.

    60 minutes away, go take it from them. Nobody thinks the Bucs can do it. Unleash the fury and show the world we are a bunch of winners.

  15. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Here’s hopes that the two weeks will make Vea stronger……heal AB,Winfield & Whitehead….and that players are very smart with precautions over CV….

    I wonder what sort of protocols are in place.

    And…..Joe, could you check to see if we will be permitted to “Fire the Cannons”…….that’s not a sure thing

  16. '79 Defense Says:

    That mistake of downing it with 2:02 to go instead of at 2:00 really could have come back to bite us big time. I can’t believe the coaches didn’t make it clear to avoid that happening.

  17. Bird Says:


    Agree on empty backfield. Head-scratcher

    Brady was just chucking it down field when that happened. A few times defenders had open path to qb. I really think the one brady just handled as a punt , no less if receiver unable to make a play.
    Not sure what mike evans was doing to not realize ball in the air

    I love mike to death. Probably favorite player on team. But he has not been himself this year. And for a tall former basketball player , he does not go up and dominate an opponent like he should. Thats what made megatron and moss so goo for their size. Heck godwin jumped up and made a play. Brady jump ball. Mike needs to work on that in future

  18. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    The “No ‘risk it’, no biscuit” strategy was in full force yesterday. That’s why TB threw three picks, he did not play conservatively.

    For this one for sure AB out-thought the opposition coach. Don’t underestimate how strong Green Bay was and who we overcame!

    I think we match up well with Kansas City.

    Go Bucs! The Big One is within your grasp!

  19. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    Chiefs are going to have a hard time keeping JPP and Shaq away from Patrick Mahomes. Pro-Bolw LT Eric Fisher tore his Achilles last night vs. the Bills. This is the Chiefs second starting tackle to go on down this season. They lost Right Tackle Mitchell Schwartz in week 11 with a back injury. Not sure if he will heal up to start the Super bowl.

    In last night’s game, Mike Remmers moved from right tackle to left tackle, Andrew Wylie shifted to right tackle and Stefen Wisniewski ended the game at right guard. Nick Allegretti remained at left guard and center Austin Reiter remained at center. Most likely, this will be the line-up vs. the Bucs.

  20. 813bucboi Says:


    been telling yall all year!!!!!!

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  21. Scotty In Fat Antonio Says:

    After that first quarter debacle against the Chiefs a few months ago, we kept cheetah 🐆 in check. Do it again.

  22. Mitch Says:

    In whiteheads and press conference he said he will do whatever it takes to heal up and play in the super bowl. Nothing definitive, but it’s a good sign he was able to meet with reporters. Usually injured players aren’t made available to the media after games.

  23. 123urout Says:

    From 5th seed to becoming NFC champs and on to the Superbowl Home field…. it is just so surreal. GO BUCS !!!!

  24. PSL Bob Says:

    The best testament to the Buc’s strong defensive pay yesterday was the fact that Brady turned the ball over 3 (THREE) times and the Bucs still won the game.

  25. Defense Rules Says:

    @SteveK … “We are going to ball control the Chiefs. Run, run, pass, run, screen.”

    That’s what I was expecting last night Steve, but I’m not convinced that’s what really happened. Bucs ran the ball on 17 first down opportunities … 17 (OK, that includes 1 kneeldown at the end) … and passed on 9 first down opportunities (completing 6 of those). Most of those 1st down rushes (but not all) were marginally productive (0-3 yards), although 1 first down run by Fournette was a thing of absolute beauty (his 20 yd TD run around right end). RoJo didn’t have it last night (still hurting?), but Fournette did very well I thought, especially in the 1st qtr.

    Obviously 3 INTs don’t help your TOP any, but our D did get 2 takeaways, so that kinda balances out. Still most of our running was in the 1st & 4th qtrs, and we ran on just slightly less than 40% of our plays. TOP definitely favored Green Bay (34:37 vs 25:23) as did the Turnover Differential (3 to 2), but like Patra said in his analysis, Bucs won the 3rd & 4th down conversion battle (10-for-15 versus 8-for-14) and that was HUGE. The biggest difference was on explosive plays, and that’s where the Bucs have been excelling for weeks now.

    Nevertheless, glad we’ve got 2 weeks to get healthy (especially our Safeties), and loving having Vea back. May not be in optimum football game shape yet, but he’s still a huge force that commands respect in the middle.

  26. 813bucboi Says:


    you typed all that to say: BL IS WORKING MAGIC!!!….LOL…

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  27. David Says:

    Two of the best offenses in the NFL, Saints and Packers, and the Buccaneers were able to get pressure, were able to get sacks, were able to get turnovers, and at key times were able to hold them to field goals.
    Can not underestimate how big bending but breaking was

  28. Defense Rules Says:

    813bucboi … Apparently you missed the words ‘Most of those (runs on 1st down) were marginally productive’. I think BL is probably VERY grateful to Todd Bowles & the Bucs’ defense … and Tom Brady … today.

  29. 813bucboi Says:

    very grateful?…

    we lost the TO battle… and most of the runs were “marginally productive”

    thats MAGIC!!!

    brady and bowles are grateful for the explosive plays and great play calling that BL produced….

    face it…you’ll been wrong about BL all year…and he continues to make you look foolish!!!…lol…


    GO BUCS!!!!!

  30. Defense Rules Says:

    YGBSM bucboi. Tom Brady has made BL look respectable lately, but that’s about it. IMO our Bucs have the most talented team roster offensively of any in the NFL. And yes, that includes Kansas City, whose ass we’re gonna stomp in 2 weeks.

    There are some great offensive minds in the NFL. BL’s not one of them. He’s riding Tom Brady’s coat tails and I’m sure that he’s grateful to have been invited to the dance.

    The Bucs’ coordinator who is working magic (in your terms) is Todd Bowles. Our defense costs considerably less than our offense in terms of CAP dollars, yet Todd managed to lead this defense from #29 ranking last year to #8 ranking this year, and in the process reduced our POINTS ALLOWED from 449 in 2019 down to 355 in 2020 … a whopping 94 fewer points allowed in just 1 season with pretty much the same roster. Do you really think this Bucs’ team would’ve gone 11-5 and made the playoffs without that improvement? If so, keep smoking the funny stuff, just don’t inhale.

    But then again bucboi, what you call MAGIC, Todd Bowles & our Bucs’ defense call plain old HARD WORK.

  31. Defense Rules Says:

    And BTW bucboi, losing the TO battle isn’t MAGIC. It’s the result of the offense turning the ball over 3 times, even though our defense got the Packers to cough it up TWICE. Ya that same Packers’ team that only committed 11 turnovers all season.

    And it’s certainly not MAGIC when your running game is marginally productive. It’s the result of going right back to that ‘run on 1st down’ mentality that hurt us in a number of games during the regular season. I thought BL had finally gotten away from that. Not last night. Brady saved BL’s butt by converting so many 3rd down-and-longs via the pass.

    Go back & do the math, THEN tell me who looks foolish.