With the ball in Tom Brady’s hands, Todd Bowles played it safe and lost. Doug Pederson and Brandon Staley went for it all and celebrated their wins.
The aggressive training paid off on Sunday.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost 23-17 to Cleveland in overtime in a game that Brady had a chance to win in regulation with another of his vintage drives in the final minute. His trainer didn’t trust the GOAT to make it happen.
Bowles did not call a timeout and opted to play for overtime. It turned against him.
Pederson and Staley avoided OT and went for 2-point conversions. It worked.
The Jacksonville Jaguars upset Baltimore when Pederson decided to go for a 2-pointer after Trevor Lawrence threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Jones with 14 seconds left within a point. Lawrence connected with Zay Jones on the conversion and the Jaguars beat the Ravens 28-27.
The same scenario unfolded later in Arizona when Justin Herbert threw a 1-yard TD pass to Austin Ekeler with 15 seconds left to bring the Chargers within a point. Herbert then hit Gerald Everett for the 2-pointer to give Los Angeles a 25-24 win over the Cardinals.
Pederson and Staley are known for making bold decisions. In Jacksonville’s case, Pederson had nothing to lose as the Jaguars (4-7) are leading nowhere. The Chargers (6-5) are in the playoff hunt, so Staley’s call was riskier.
Bowles didn’t even try. Calling a timeout with Brady on the court is not considered a gamble. It’s standard procedure when the seven-time Super Bowl champion is under center.
The Buccaneers had three timeouts and the ball at their 25 with 32 seconds left in the fourth quarter after the Browns tied the game at 17-17.
In Week 9, Brady needed just 35 seconds with all of his timeouts to lead the Buccaneers 60 yards to a comeback win over the Rams. He led a fourth quarter/overtime winning streak, an NFL record 55 times in the regular season and another 14 in the playoffs.
This time, the Bucs needed 43 yards to give Ryan Succop a 50-yard field goal attempt to win.
Brady threw a 1-yard pass to Rachaad White on first down and the Bucs could have stopped the clock with about 26 seconds to go.
Instead, Bowles let him tick, tick, tick.
After Brady fired a 26-yard completion at Julio Jones on the next play to reach Cleveland’s 48, there were just 8 seconds left when the Bucs finally used their first timeout. Following an incomplete pass, Brady was only able to attempt a Hail Mary on the final play before OT.
Fox analyst Jonathan Vilma called Bowles’ decision not to use a timeout after the show’s first play “inexplicable.”
Bowles was not asked about it after the game. He was asked about not stopping the clock when the Browns were driving for the tying TD.
“No. That clock was going to run out. We didn’t have enough to stop it there,” he said. “There was overtime right there, right from the start. Once we couldn’t not get there, it was going into overtime.
Bowles coached fear of losing. The Buccaneers are lucky to be in the weak NFC South where 5-6 is still good enough for first place.
When asked about going for the win, Pederson replied, “We have to think about the players, not the games, and trust our guys.”
Staley also trusted his team.
“I really believe in our offensive football team,” Staley said. “I believe in our quarterback. I believed in the call of the game. We executed it well all week. We wanted to finish the game on our terms.
Brady didn’t even have the best chance of winning from his coach.
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles, left, talks to linesman Mark Stewart during the second half of the team’s NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland on Sunday Nov. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) looks to pass under pressure from Cleveland Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (28) during the second half of an NFL football game in Cleveland, on Sunday, November 27, 2022. The Browns won 23-17 in overtime. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Zay Jones (7) celebrates a two-point conversion with his team during the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, at Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Jean Raoux)