Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Bucs teammates lift tight end Dallas Clark into the air while celebrating the game-winning score in overtime.
By ROY CUMMINGS
November 18, 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. --
As he made his cut up the field toward the end zone on what proved to be the final play of the game Sunday, Buccaneers tight end Dallas Clark heard Panthers linebacker James Anderson utter a few words you can't print in a newspaper.
That's when Clark knew he was about to score the winning touchdown in the Bucs 27-21 overtime victory at Bank of America Stadium.
"When you hear the linebacker say what he said – and I won't repeat everything he said there – it's a great feeling,'' Clark said, "because that's when you know you've got him, and the rest is really just finishing off the play."
What Clark finished off with his 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Freeman was one of the most improbable victories of the season.
It came after the Bucs turned the ball over three times and fell behind by 11 points with six minutes left in the fourth quarter, but that was what made it so satisfying, Clark said.
"This was a huge win for us because we got away with learning a lesson here,'' he said. "We learned the lesson today that we can't just show up and expect to win football games.
"We did not play well today. Where we want to go, that's not good enough. But to come back like that and rally, that's not the kind of stuff you can learn in practice. That's needs to be done on a Sunday, so that was special.''
It was particularly special for Clark, the 10-year veteran out of Iowa who spent the previous nine seasons playing with Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. Clark hauled in 440 passes, including 47 for touchdowns, with the Colts – none a walk-off, game-winner in overtime.
"That's kind of weird, really, but then again, when you think about it, it's not that often that you're in a position to make that kind of play,'' Clark said. "I'm just glad I was able to make it today.''
It was the sell job he did on the pass route that made it happen. Clark started off running toward the left sideline, as if he was going to run into the flat. After about four yards, though, he cut up the field.
"That's when I heard (Anderson) say what he said,'' said Clark, whose final catch of the day gave him a team-high seven receptions for 58 yards – both season highs for Clark. "After that, you've just got to finish."
Clark credited Josh Freeman for a great throw. Freeman gave all the credit to Clark for "doing such a great job of selling that flat route."
The one thing both could agree on was how big a play it was and how big the victory was.
"It was huge,'' Clark said. "A great team win in which a lot of guys made some huge plays when we really needed them. There was a point in this one, we weren't playing well, and we needed to wake up. But we were able to do that and we made some plays down the stretch, which is big for us.
"It's still early and we're not a great team. But you know what? The potential is there for us. We just have to keep it going and in the end we found a way to do that today.''