- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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"Come on!" Brooks said in the huddle to everyone, not just Barber. "Tackle his outside leg!"
With four minutes left in the half and Minnesota driving at the Tampa 37, the Bucs' defense started changing the momentum. Chester Taylor went in motion from the right and took a reverse handoff from Frerotte. As Taylor sprinted around left end, six Bucs on the defensive front and one safety all moved with him. But Brooks, who'd set up in the gap between the center and the left guard, didn't. He'd never seen this kind of reverse in all his game prep, so immediately he looked for clues. Funny how Frerotte isn't just backing away from the line of scrimmage; he's moving to his right with a purpose. Brooks, against the grain, moved with him.
"I'd like to say we talked about this play or had it in the tip sheet for the game," Bradley would later say. "But we knew nothing. I watched it unfold and never saw it before. I don't understand how Derrick knew."
Brooks: "I sniffed it out. Something just smelled wrong. Frerotte wouldn't be moving right like that unless something was up."
Something was. It was a double reverse, with the fleet wideout Sidney Rice taking a pitch from Taylor then coming back around. Brooks broke into an angled sprint to his left. Frerotte flailed at the linebacker, missing the block, and Rice, exposed and unwilling to get splattered for a loss, threw the ball away into the end zone. Minnesota settled for a field goal on the drive, and it was 13--6 at halftime. By the time the Vikings got the ball back midway through the third quarter, the Bucs had tied the game at 13.
Which brings us back to fourth-and-one with 5:58 left in the third quarter. The 91st play of the game. The play of the game.
I NEVER SAW Brooks till the last second," said Peterson. "I don't know where he came from."
Peterson eyed the arcing pass and reached for it at precisely the Bucs' 35. Brooks was at the 36-and-a-half at that moment, with Frerotte's pass maybe eight feet above their heads. Field judge Buddy Horton was 12 yards farther back, and he was shielded by Peterson's body from the four hands that would try to make the play.
Smith had taught Brooks early in his career that on plays when he can't turn to see the ball, he must try to divine the split second that the pass will reach the receiver's hands and knock the hands away as the ball drops in.
A millisecond before Frerotte's pass was to hit Peterson's hands, Brooks lunged to close the four-foot gap and raked Peterson's left hand down. "Now all I could do was try to catch the ball with my right hand," said Peterson. "It happened so fast, but I was pretty confident I could do that."