Bucs flip the coin, and script, on first-quarter futility
After attempting virtually everything short of hiring a hypnotist to help shake their chronic first-quarter doldrums, the Bucs found their solution Saturday in the referee's pocket. When his coin flipped, so did Tampa Bay's first-quarter fortunes.

Instead of deferring upon winning the pregame coin toss at Detroit's Ford Field (which any metric frowns upon), the Bucs chose to receive. Within minutes, their notorious first-quarter funk was history. Outscored 59-7 in the opening quarter over the previous six games, the Bucs scored touchdowns on their first two possessions en route to a 47-7 romp of the Lions.

"This week we felt like we could attack," said coach Bruce Arians, whose team led 13-0 after one quarter and 34-0 at intermission. "So we took the football if we won the coin toss and our guys just went out and went right down the field."

A frustrating purveyor of early three-and-outs the previous six weeks, the Bucs scored on six plays on their opening possession, capped by Tom Brady's 33-yard scoring toss to Rob Gronkowski. They needed only four plays to score the second time, with Brady's 47-yard completion to Chris Godwin setting up his 27-yard scoring toss to Mike Evans.

After those two series, Brady was 6-for-7 for 146 yards and two TDs. He finished the period with 179 yards. "Just good execution," Brady said. "The guys were making plays for me all over the field. I tried to just give them opportunities."

The early lead was Tampa Bay's first in the opening quarter since a Monday night road win against the Giants on Nov. 2. They hadn't previously scored a touchdown on each of their first two drives since Week 3 of 2019, according to ESPN.

"It was something we needed desperately, just so people would quit talking about it," Arians said. "We had been winning, but we're not winning nice enough. But hopefully today it was nice enough."

Joey Knight, Tampa Bay Times, published 27 December 2020