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Monday Night Observations
For 55 minutes that was your garden variety bad game between two average defensive-oriented teams that shouldn’t be featured in a standalone game, and all of a sudden it became the Super Bowl with Tom Brady mounting two touchdown drives in the closing minutes. In fact, he got the second touchdown twice, after the Chris Godwin TD was called back on a hold.
Tom Brady’s most unique trait is his mindset. He just keeps coming at you, no matter how unsuccessful the offense has been for the prior 55 minutes, the prior 12 games. That sounds trivial — just be like Brady! — but virtually every other human on earth is to some extent deterred by repeated failure.
Even if they go through the motions of shaking it off and firing away on the next drive, they know they didn’t succeed, and it harms their confidence, undercuts their efforts. Not so with Brady. He simply doesn’t care. And remember, he’s doing this in front of millions of onlookers. It’s hard enough not to be deterred when you struggle privately, but imagine stalling publicly and repeatedly, at age 45, when people are assuming you are finished, when every player in history at your age was long retired, with 300-pound freaks trying to crush you, not only coming back out, but doing so with an unwavering belief you will succeed, despite all the evidence to the contrary. It sounds simple, but if it were, there would be more Tom Bradys, and there are not.
But let’s not waste any more time on trivialities. I had the Saints +3.5, so the Bucs’ comeback was but a footnote.
Andy Dalton played a great game. He avoided sacks, made accurate throws, found Taysom Hill for a long TD across the field, dealt with drops from Hill, Jarvis Landry and Chris Olave on good throws (Hill’s drop was jarred loose by a defender.) He’s still a quality backup.
Rashid Shaheed (4-4-75-0) is an electric kick returner who made big plays on offense too. Just a name to file away for next year.
The Bucs ignored Mike Evans (4-4-59-0) for most of the game, though he would still have had a big day had he not been interferred with on an easy long TD during the Bucs’ penultimate drive. Chris Godwin (13-8-63-0) is the guy when Brady is getting rid of the ball quickly, which is most of the time.
I dropped Cade Otton (10-6-28-1) in a league where I’m desperate at TE (I used Harrison Bryant), and that looks like a mistake. Not that Otton did anything other than catch the TD, but the 10 targets shows Brady trusts him.
The Saints blew it with eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter when on 4th-and-2 from the 11, they kicked a field goal to go up 16-3. At 13-3, the Bucs still needed two scores, and 16-3 still gets you beat if they score two TDs (which they obviously did). In fact, if the Saints were up 13-10 instead of 16-10, the Bucs might have been more conservative on the final drive, willing to settle for overtime. They would still try to score the TD, but a team that can tie with the FG will take fewer chances in doing so. So the field goal doesn’t get you much, and it forces the team to beat you rather than aim for OT. But, more importantly, if you make the first down, you chew up more clock at a minimum, and if you score the TD, it’s game over, up three scores. Finally, even if you fail to make it, the Bucs get the ball at their own 11, rather than receiving a kickoff. There are few things I hate more than the conservative FG to go up six (rather than 3) on 4th-and-short from inside the 20. And 13 rather than 10 amounts to the same thing.