Key catch erases Spurlock's gaffe
No matter how he tried Sunday, Micheal Spurlock just couldn't move on. The fumble he'd lost while returning a kick late in the third quarter, it stuck with him. Right to the end.
"I'd given them another chance to score,'' Spurlock said. "The rest of the day I was just waiting, hoping for another chance, for an opportunity to redeem myself.''
Opportunity knocked as the clock wound down. There were just 14 seconds left in regulation when quarterback Josh Freeman looked about 20 yards downfield for Spurlock on the right sideline.
The throw was made in such a way that either Spurlock would catch it or the ball would go out of bounds. With that fumble still on his mind, Spurlock leaned on the tips of his toes, reached for the ball and grabbed it.
Few, including Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, believed Spurlock had made the grab, but in the time it took for replay officials to confirm their original finding, Spurlock was redeemed.
"Yeah, that was redemption,'' Spurlock said after his catch set the stage for Connor Barth's 31-yard game-winning field goal with one second left in the Bucs' dramatic 24-21 victory against the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. "The thing is, we practice that play every day,'' Spurlock said. "It's a drill that some might think is a waste of time but it's a drill that sure helped us out today.''
Spurlock's catch helped Tampa Bay bounce back from a 21-14 deficit with less than two minutes to play on a day when several Bucs players were forced to seek redemption in the second half.
Cornerback Aqib Talib gave up a first-quarter touchdown pass, safety Sabby Piscitelli gave up a fourth-quarter touchdown pass and receiver Mike Williams lost a fumble at the Bengals 4-yard line.
All eventually redeemed themselves. Talib and Piscitelli made the interceptions that sparked the comeback, Williams caught the touchdown pass that tied the game and Spurlock caught the pass that set up the game-winning score.
"He showed today what a professional he is,'' Bucs tight end Kellen Winslow said of Spurlock. "I thought his elbow was down (on the fumble), but he came back like a pro and made a play to help us win.''
"You have to have a short memory,'' Spurlock said. "We all had some plays that could've helped us in the game a lot earlier. Me, I had that big fumble, so it was on my mind.''
It didn't show. Spurlock broke away from his defender on the play and had plenty of separation, but the situation forced Freeman to throw a ball that Spurlock or no one would catch.
"The thing is, we're all maturing now, we're starting to catch people's eyes,'' Spurlock said. "Every day that we go out there we get better and now, on Sundays, you're seeing the results.''
|About the writer|
Roy Cummings has been The Tampa Tribune's primary Buccaneer beat writer for many years now and has a knowledge of the current players that is unsurpassed amongst local reporters. He also appears on Channel 8's news broadcasts on stories about the Bucs. He came to London with the Buccaneers in 2009 and was at Richmond Park to be part of the Bucs UK's most memorable day when the club took on the UK Patriots at touch football in front of many Bucs alumni and club officials.