TAMPA — For Bucs fans who remain unsatisfied with coach Todd Bowles’ explanation of his late-game clock management in last weekend’s loss to the Browns, the other two primary decision-makers on offense offered more cause for consternation Friday.
When asked, neither coordinator Byron Leftwich nor quarterback Tom Brady offered further insight into Bowles’ widely maligned choice to play for overtime instead of being more aggressive in the final seconds of regulation in his team’s 23-17 loss.
“I’m on to the Saints,” Brady, summoning his inner Bill Belichick, said when asked about the Bucs’ final series in regulation. “I’m not thinking about last week.”
Leftwich was equally evasive when asked about the Bucs’ last possession before overtime. After the Browns tied the score on Jacoby Brissett’s fourth-down scoring strike to David Njoku, Brady took over with 32 seconds to play and found Rachaad White for a 1-yard screen pass. Seventeen seconds elapsed before the next play, a 26-yard deep ball to Julio Jones that put Tampa Bay at midfield.
But at that point, only eight seconds remained. Why was no timeout called between first and second down?
“Ultimately, to say why, I think that’s more of a head-coach question,” Leftwich said. That’s something that Todd would answer.”
When asked if Brady urged Bowles to call timeout, Leftwich replied: “Communication between us three, I’ll leave between us three.”
On Monday, Bowles said the decision had been made to not use a timeout (he had two in his pocket at the end of regulation) if nothing was gained on first down, because he didn’t want to risk an interception and preferred going into overtime. The answer seemed to contradict the decision to let Brady fling it downfield to Jones on second down.
“It could’ve been (intercepted),” Bowles said. “It was a risky throw, but he got it in there. Tom has been making those throws, but we felt good going into overtime the way the defense was playing, and we felt we had it right there, so that’s the call we made.”
When asked Friday if Bowles is always the one calling the shots in such situations, Leftwich said, “As assistants, you can’t, right? We can’t call them, so it’s got be somebody on the field.
“But those are things that are always questioned when things don’t work out your way,” he added. “Obviously if we would’ve had something that we wanted, we would’ve went and got at it and got something. We didn’t get what we wanted, that was the outcome.”
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