Big Plays By Hayward, Johnson Spur Bucs Win Over Chargers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 5-4 and they beat the San Diego Chargers on Sunday with a couple of splash plays that saved the day.
The 34-24 victory came courtesy of touchdowns by Adam Hayward and Leonard Johnson when they were needed on a day when the defense was roughed up in the first half.
Hayward scooped up a loose ball after Dakoda Watson blocked Mike Scifers’ punt. He then ran 29 yards for the score. “Don’t get caught, don’t get caught, that’s all I was thinking,” Hayward said after the victory.
His big play gave the Bucs a 17-14 lead with 8:55 left in the first half but Phillip Rivers marched his team down the field and hit Malcolm Floyd with a three-yard scoring pass with 27 seconds left before intermission. Rivers had his way with the Tampa Bay secondary, he threw for more than 200 yards and had three touchdown passes and the Chargers led 21-17.
The play that turned the momentum of the game, the day’s biggest play came early in the fourth quarter with the Bucs up 24-21 and San Diego driving for a go-ahead score. On third and four at the Tampa 24, Phillip Rivers rolled to his right, looked, looked and finally let a pass go, right to Johnson. Johnson headed up the sideline, shed a tackle attempt by 6-6, 320-pound offensive tackle Jeomey Clary then outran another lineman, 6-5, 330-pound guard Louis Vasquez. Johnson broke into the clear and gave his best Deion Sanders impression the final 20 yards as he high-stepped his way to the end zone for his first-ever pick six.
It totally turned the day for the Bucs, put them in front 31-21 with 8:33 to play and once again, they closed it out with a final drive that was good enough to get Connor Barth in position to kick a 45-yard field goal with just 1:07 left to ice it, 34-24.
“Our guys today played team football,” Coach Greg Schiano said afterward. “We held each other up. We did just enough to find a way to win.”