NFC South Reporter
Down 10 points in the fourth quarter, Tom Brady rallied the Buccaneers to force overtime, then capped the comeback with a drive to set up Ryan Succop’s 40-yard field goal and a 19-16 comeback victory over the Arizona Cardinals at Christmas.
Brady completed six straight passes for 69 yards in overtime to reach the 19-yard line, and Succop’s punt gave the Bucs the win in a game where their offense had done very little entering the fourth quarter . Brady finished with 281 yards.
The Bucs (7-8) have been on a roll, so a home win against Carolina next week would clinch the NFC South title. Had they lost on Sunday, the Panthers could have eliminated the Bucs with a win in Tampa.
Down 16-6 in the fourth quarter, the Bucs offense woke up, with Leonard Fournette hauling in a screen pass for a 44-yard gain. Brady went 6-for-7 for 67 yards on the drive, and capped off third-and-goal with a 3-yard touchdown pass to rookie running back Rachaad White to pull within three points.
The Cardinals then ran an option throw, with Bucs defensive lineman Will Gholston pouncing on the loose ball. That set up another Succop field goal to tie the game at 16 with 2:27 left.
The Bucs defense held Arizona’s offense in check for most of the night, but a 47-yard pass from Trace McSorley to wide receiver Hollywood Brown set up a 39-yard field goal by Matt Prater to give the Cardinals take their first lead at 9-6 with 14. :07 left.
That drive started after Brady’s second interception of the game, both by Arizona’s Marco Wilson. Brady had just three interceptions in the first 12 games this season, but now has two in each of the last three games, giving him nine on the year.
The two teams struggled offensively en route to a 6-6 halftime tie, with Arizona getting a 53-yard field goal by Prater just before halftime to tie the game.
The Bucs gained 48 yards on their first two plays — a pass interference flag and White’s 18-yard run — but that drive stalled at the Arizona 20, leading to a field goal. The Bucs defense responded with a fumble as outside linebacker Anthony Nelson sacked McSorley and forced a fumble that linebacker Devin White recovered for the Bucs. That turnover didn’t amount to a point, as the Bucs went for it on fourth-and-1 at the Arizona 48 and Fournette was stopped short by a turnover on downs.
A 56-yard field goal by Prater tied the game at 3-3, and another Bucs drive stalled in the red zone, with a touchdown nullified by an illegal shift penalty, followed by a holding, which set up another Ryan Succop field goal. Brady struggled to move the chains with any consistency, with another drive ending in an interception when he threw while being hit.
Brady was just 12 of 20 for 87 yards in the first half, five of those completions on offloads to Fournette. McSorley, making his first NFL start following injuries to Kyler Murray and backup Colt McCoy, was 10-of-21 for 79 yards.
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Greg Auman is the NFC South reporter for FOX Sports, covering the Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers and Saints. He is in his 10th season covering the Bucs and the NFL full-time, having spent time at the Tampa Bay Times and The Athletic. You can follow him on Twitter at @gregauman.
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