The Buccaneers were in a bit of a bad spot as the second quarter began, trailing 3-0 and facing a third-and-15 at their own 15. The Raiders had blocked a Connor Barth field goal attempt in the opening period, returned the loose ball to midfield and then used that good field position to score the game’s first points on a Sebastian Janikowski field goal.
That’s when Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson hooked up again on yet another bolt of lightning.
Enjoying a well-controlled pocket, Freeman stood his ground long enough to allow Jackson to suddenly break his route deep and get behind the last two Raider defenders. Freeman lofted his pass high and deep and Jackson caught it past midfield, rumbling down to the Oakland 21. Three plays later, Freeman looked to his big-play receiver again, dropping a perfect strike down into the back right corner of the end zone for a 7-3 Tampa Bay lead.
That gave Jackson 84 receiving yards on what was technically an 80-yard drive. A pair of offensive penalties forced the Bucs to work a little harder for the go-ahead score, but much of it was chewed up on yet another deep pass for one of the NFL’s best big-strike offenses.
At the very least, the Bucs’ current passing attack is better at producing long gains than any one before it in franchise history. Jackson’s long catch-and-run was the team’s sixth reception, in just eight and a half games, of more than 60 yards. No team in Tampa Bay’s previous 36 seasons had ever produced that many 60+-yarders in a single campaign. The 2003 team held the previous record, at five. Here are the Bucs’ six longest pass plays of 2012:
1. Josh Freeman – Vincent Jackson, 95 yards, vs. New Orleans, Oct. 21
2. Josh Freeman – Mike Williams, 65 yards, vs. Washington, Sept. 30
3t. Josh Freeman – Vincent Jackson, 64 yards, at Oakland, Nov. 4
3t. Josh Freeman – Doug Martin, 64 yards and a TD, at Minnesota, Oct. 25
5t. Josh Freeman – Mike Williams, 62 yards and a TD, vs. Kansas City, Oct. 14
5t. Josh Freeman – Tiquan Underwood, 62 yards, vs. Kansas City, Oct. 14