Bucs go for it all on big fourth down
The Bucs not only went for on a fourth-and-1 in the third quarter. The Bucs also went for the throat.
Facing a fourth-and-1 from the New Orleans 18, the Bucs went with a tight formation that gave the impression another of their frequent quarterback sneaks was coming.
Instead, offensive coordinator Greg Olson called a fake sneak, with Josh Freeman selling the sneak only to drop back to throw an 18-yard touchdown strike to Mike Williams, who outfought CB Jabari Greer for the ball.
But the play didn’t go nearly as smoothly as planned.
The first option, TE Kellen Winslow, never got off the line of scrimmage as he was mauled by two defenders who prevented him from releasing. That left Williams as the only other receiver on the play, with Freeman finding him just as two oncoming pass rushers raced toward him.
“I knew it was man (coverage), so I looked at the safety,” Williams said. “If he went my way, the ball’s going Kellen. If he goes Kellen’s way, the ball’s coming to me. I looked at the safety and he went running to Kellen.”
It turns out having Winslow in the game sort of tipped off the defense something was amiss. After all, Winslow, who admittedly isn’t the most physical blocker, seemed an odd choice to be in the short-yardage package.
“We’ve been running a lot of quarterback sneaks on third and short and fourth and short,” Freeman said. “We knew they’d be expecting it and they were. We were supposed to snap it, get close to the line and pop back. Then Kellen was supposed to pop open.
“The only problem is they were like, ‘What the heck is Kellen Winslow doing in here?’”
In the end, it all worked out. And that made the decision to be unusually assertive in such a situation look rather smart.
“It’s being aggressive,” coach Raheem Morris said. “You have to make big-time decisions in big-time games.”
Williams, who entered the game with 924 yards and was hoping to reach 1,000, was clearly disappointed in falling short (he finished with 964). But his season was no less impressive given his status as a rookie drafted in the fourth round who was seen as having character issues coming out of Syracuse.
“I opened a lot of eyes,” Williams said. “A lot of people didn’t expect me to do what I did, especially as a fourth-round pick and with all the trouble I’ve been through.
"When people doubt you, it feels good when you prove them wrong."