By Leo Haggerty


With the new NFL Covid protocols severely limiting the number of media that can attended practice, a bunch of correspondents and myself are no longer permitted to attend practice.  So, my normal weekly pictures and conversations with coaches and players, are on hold indefinitely.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to get a question or two in on the Zoom interviews but it doesn’t look too promising.

For almost the entire contest, the Buccaneers were playing catch up.  That all changed when the Jets distained a chip shot field goal late in the fourth quarter that would have put New York up seven points and were stopped at the Tampa Bay seven yard line on fourth down.  That allowed The GOAT to engineer one of his patented length of the field scoring drives with no timeouts and lead the Bucs to a 28-24 victory over the Jets at MetLife Stadium.  The win moved the Pewter Pirates to 12-4 on the season and the loss dropped the Green & White to 4-12 on the campaign.

The Jets took to opening kickoff and march right down the gridiron posting the first points of the tilt at 12:04 of the opening period.  WR Braxton Berrios (2 for 12 yards and 1 TD) took a lateral from RB Michael Carter (3 for 54 yards), who was lined up in the Wildcat, and faked a pass and scampered untouched across the goal line from a yard out.  That capped a 72 yard drive that took six plays and 2:56.  K Eddy Pineiro converted the extra point and New York jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead.

The Bucs immediately answered that score with one of their own at 5:43 of the first quarter.  QB Tom Brady (34 of 50 for 410 yards and 3 TD plus 1 INT) found WR Mike Evans (4 for 47 yards and 1 TD) in the left corner of the end zone with a great back shoulder throw for a touchdown.  That ended a 13 play drive that took 6:21 to traverse 65 yards.  K Ryan Succop booted the PAT to knot the score a 7 all.

New York jumped back in front at 13:43 of the second period.  QB Zach Wilson (19 of 33 for 234 yards and 1 TD) found Berrios (8 for 65 yards and 1 TD) in the short right flat and #10 took it the rest of the way to complete a catch-and-run nine yard score.  The drive took 7:00 to travel 78 yards in 13 plays.  Pineiro split the uprights to extend the Jets lead to 14-7.

The Buccaneers cut into the lead at 10:50 of the second quarter.  Succop blasted a 39 yard field that culminated a seven play drive that went 54 yards in 2:53 trimming  the Jets lead to 14-10.

The home team put up the final points of the first half with six seconds left before intermission.  After Brady was intercepted by CB Brandin Echols and returned to the Jets 48 yard line, New York advanced 19 yards in three plays taking 15 seconds.  Pineiro was successful from 51 yards to send the Green & White to the locker room with a 17-10 advantage.

The Jets dented the scoreboard first after intermission at 6:56 of the third period.  RB Ty Johnson (5 for 35 yards and 1 TD) plunged up the middle for a one yard score.  That finished off a 2:06 drive that took nine plays to motor 66 yards.  Pineiro nailed the PAT and New York sprinted to its largest lead at 24-10.

Tampa Bay cut into the margin with 29 seconds left in the third quarter.  Brady found TE Cameron Brate (2 for 5 yards and 1 TD) just across the goal line with a four yard aerial.  That put to rest an 89 yard drive that took 13 plays and 6:27.  That put the Pewter Pirates within striking distance at 24-17.

The Buccaneers scored again at 7:39 of the final period.  Succop put the exclamation point on an eight play drive that took 3:39 to go 38 yards with a 27 yard field goal.  That cut the margin to 24-20 in favor of the Jets.

New York took the kickoff and marched down inside the Bucs 10 yard line.  Facing a fourth-and-2 at the Tampa Bay 7 yard line, the Jets went for it and Wilson (2 for 0 yards) was stoned for no gain.

That gave the Pewter Pirates life and they took advantage of it taking the lead for the first time in the contest with 15 ticks left in the tilt.  Brady found WR Cyril Grayson (6 for 81 yards and 1 TD) streaking down the right sideline with a 33 yard dart just before the goal line.  That culminated a 93 yard drive that took 1:57 and nine plays with no timeouts.  The Bucs went for the two point conversion and were successful with RB Le’Veon Bell (3 for 5 yards) bulling into the end zone from two yard out.

The Tampa Bay win, coupled with the Dallas loss to Arizona, moves the Buccaneers up to the #3 seed in the National Football Conference playoff picture.  If nothing changes Week 18, the Pewter Pirates will host the San Francisco 49ers in the opening round of the playoffs.

If I were you, I wouldn’t put money on that.  There’s a lot of football to be played next week and nothing, not even the #1 seed in the NFC, is secure so see you at the RayJay next week when the Carolina Panthers come to town for a 1 pm kickoff.