Finishing The Half

June 19th, 2021

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When it came to the game within the game, the 2020 Bucs were special.

Including the postseason, the Bucs posted 15 wins last year. In 12 of those victories, a touchdown or a field goal in the late stages of the opening half built momentum.

Those key scores were a by-product of savvy coaching, crisp execution and smart clock management. And when opponents made mistakes late in the second quarter, Tampa Bay pounced.

Wise coaching on display

In fact, those 15 minutes were easily the most productive for Tom Brady and crew as the Bucs averaged 10.3 points in the second quarter during the regular season (second-most in the league).

Here, in ascending order, are the dozen games when a late second-quarter score gave the Bucs a major boost:

12. The Bucs were already ahead of Detroit 27-0 in Week 16 when Antonio Brown caught a 12-yard TD pass with 74 seconds remaining in the half. Tampa Bay went on to win 47-7.

11. In the regular-season finale, Matt Ryan’s 1-yard QB sneak with 1:56 left in the half sliced Tampa Bay’s lead to 20-10. Back-to-back pass interference calls on Tampa Bay’s ensuing possession led to Ryan Succop’s 25-yard FG on the final snap before halftime and the Bucs beat the Falcons 44-27.

10. The Bucs led Minnesota 7-6 when Ronald Jones padded the advantage on a 1-yard scoring run just 44 seconds before the half. Tampa Bay then got the ball back with 21 seconds remaining and a pass interference flag on Brady’s long pass intended for Rob Gronkowski set up Succop’s 19-yarder and a 17-6 lead. Tampa Bay won 26-14 in the first matchup after the bye, triggering a closing 8-game winning streak.

9. In the opening playoff round, the Bucs led 15-7 at Washington before Succop’s 23-yard FG with 1:50 left in the half. The Bucs went on to win 31-23.

8. The Bucs trailed 17-10 at Carolina when Brady engineered a 75-yard drive that included a 15-yard completion to Chris Godwin on 3rd-and-11. Mike Evans capped the march with a 3-yard TD catch just 27 seconds before the half. Tampa Bay won 46-23.

7. Wayne Gallman’s 2-yard scoring run with 1:46 left in the second quarter put the Giants ahead 14-3 before Succop’s 40-yarder provided some momentum seven seconds before halftime. The Bucs rallied for a 25-23 triumph.

6. In the divisional round, Tampa Bay trailed 13-10 in New Orleans before Succop forged a tie with a 37-yard FG on the final snap of the half. The Bucs won 30-20.

Money kicker Ryan Succop

5. Tampa Bay led Green Bay 21-10 in Week 6 when Brady capped a 62-yard drive by hitting Gronkowski from 12 yards out with only 62 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Tampa Bay went on to win 38-10.

4. Clinging to a 14-10 advantage against the Raiders, the Bucs marched 88 yards in a drive that featured completions to Chris Godwin on both third down and fourth down. Brady’s 33-yard TD pass to Scotty Miller came just 17 seconds before the half and the Bucs went on to win 45-20.

3. The Chargers were ahead 24-7 when the Bucs were forced to punt with less than a minute left in the half. On the next snap, Nadamukong Suh forced a fumble at the Chargers 6-yard line. On 3rd-and-goal, Brady found Evans for the score and the Bucs rallied for a 38-31 victory.

2. Harrison Butker’s FG with 61 seconds left in the half cut Kansas City’s Super Bowl deficit to 14-6. Andy Reid then got greedy, calling two timeouts on Tampa Bay’s ensuing possession, as a pair of pass interference calls led to Antonio Brown’s 1-yard TD grab. Tampa Bay beat the Chiefs 31-9 to claim the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

1. In the NFC championship game, the Bucs led the Packers 14-10 in the final minute of the half when an aggressive play call spelled disaster for the Lambeau faithful. Brady’s 39-yard TD strike to Miller came with only one second showing on the clock and the Bucs held on for a 31-26 triumph against the NFC’s top seed.

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5 Responses to “Finishing The Half”

  1. Señor Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    What a great season. What a wonderful time to be a Bucs fan!!

  2. Medicated Pete Says:

    Brady knows the psychological importance of scoring right before the half. He’s an assassin

  3. Rayjay1122 Says:

    It is the Brady effect. After the game vs the Chargers, Bruce Arian and another coach were talking on the sideline and I heard the comment, “we would have lost a game like this last season.”

    Quite telling.

  4. Lets Roll Says:

    Notice the other trend here?

    Just based on the scores. It appears that The Grave Diggers laid the other teams to rest in the second half.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing an article about that IRA/Joe.

    First Half D vs Second Half D!

  5. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    The one thing that changed the longer the season went their 1st quarter scoring went down, they led the league in that stat for a little while but then it fell off. They’ve always been a slow starting team so this year they have to start fast and finish fast. Last year there were games that our score should’ve been higher but the offense bogged down for different reasons ie nervous conservative calling, the biggest one was against the Lions. That game easily could’ve been 63-7 the way the defense was getting the back so quickly. Surely would’ve been a team record. I hope this year they try to break some records on the way to tying the back to back SB winners