February 6, 2023

Cardinals points against the Buccaneers, takeaway: Tom Brady guides a late comeback as Tampa Bay runs past Arizona VOT.

Trace McSorley had the opportunity to play both hero and spoiler early in his NFL career, helping the Cardinals take the NFC-leading Pirates to overtime in the final game of the Triple League on Christmas Day. In the end, however, the quarterback’s senior counterpart, Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady, got the best of the game. Sunday night’s showdown was a far cry from Brady’s sweetest game; In fact, for a while, this was probably his most uninspired of the year. TB12 got a late chance to come back from a 10-point deficit, and delivered on a hard time, on a Ryan Succop ground goal for the 19-16 win.

Here are some of the points taken from the Buccaneers’ win Sunday night:

Why did the pirates win?

Not that they have it all figured out, that’s for sure. For much of Sunday night, Tom Brady looked as listless as he has been all season, Leonard Fournette struggled to find open lanes on the floor and only Ryan Succop seemed able to consistently execute. But then Arizona had to take a swing, and Brady took the opportunity to call it quits in the final minutes, leaning on Fournette, Chris Goodwin and Russell Gage to score 13 unanswered. If one thing worked all night, it was Todd Bowles’ defense that hit Trace McSorley seven times and recorded five tackles for a loss, especially a step-up if/when the Cardinals advanced the ball into enemy territory.

Why did the Cardinals lose?

With or without Kyler Murray and Colt McCoy, they can’t move the ball constantly. Arizona’s defense played very well, with JJ Watt delivering sustained pressure in Tom Brady’s face and Marco Wilson making not one but two catches off a TB12 deep ball. But for all of McSorley’s shooting efforts—and the veteran backup had a couple of fine shots, including one for Marquis Brown—Arizona has never kept a rhythm in the air. James Conner and Greg Durch made the most of every touch, but others, like DeAndre Hopkins, were basically invisible. Meanwhile, the “D” seemed to be playing catch-up in the closing minutes of the action, perhaps finally worn out by a Tampa Bay team winning the battle for possession time.

turning point

3rd and 9 for the Cardinals at their own 36-yard line on the OT’s first possession. McSorley had already connected with Marquise Brown for an accurate third strike earlier in the drive. Here, however, he couldn’t connect with DeAndre Hopkins on a tight left-side window throw, and the officials didn’t buy Hopkins’ pass interference call. At that moment, with the ball returned to Brady and the next score guaranteed to win the game, it was clear that Tampa Bay was poised for another ugly but victorious comeback.

Play the game

It wasn’t necessarily a “good” play, but it was huge for the Bucks: McSorley’s quick run to Keontay Ingram resulted in a fumble that ended up giving Tampa Bay extra possession and allowing the visiting team to sew things up at 16-16 late. It also just sums up the ugly nature of the entire back-and-forth, which included 11 penalties and five turnovers.

What then

The Pirates (7-8) will go home for a Week 17 rematch on New Year’s Day with the rival Panthers (6-9), who upset the Lions on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Cardinals (4-11) will hit the road to take on the Falcons (5-10), who fell to the Ravens this weekend and are now eliminated from playoff contention.