Remember when the Buccaneers were down 17-0 to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 15 of the 2020 season? The Bucs were sloppy on both offense and defense and were losing to a lesser opponent. This came after a big win over the Minnesota Vikings the week prior and the Bye Week seven days before that.
In other words: The Bucs weren't supposed to be down three scores to their division rival, who was 4-9 at the time. At 8-5 and fighting for a playoff spot, the Bucs were choking.
But everything changed after halftime and it all started with Jason Pierre-Paul's locker room speech.
“We went into halftime and JPP was just, on fire,” Tom Brady said during an episode of Buccaneers.com's In The Current over the summer. “He was lighting everyone up. Talking about all the different things we needed to do on offense and on defense and showed incredible leadership. Those 30 minutes, I think, changed the whole football season.”
Flash forward to this year. The Bucs were down, 24-14, at halftime to the 6-5 Indianapolis Colts on Sunday after playing a very lackluster first half. The team needed a spark.
Enter Leonard Fournette, who had his own message to give in the locker room.
"I had a speech for the team," said Fournette. "I'm like, 'You have to have a will and a want. You have to be willing to risk everything. Play-by-play, you have to want to win [and] want to fight [on] each and every play.' And I think they understood that message and came out and played their lights out."
Fournette's Week 12 accomplishments -both on the field and off- are the latest example of how the fifth-year running back has matured during his time in Tampa Bay. Fournette is a couple of weeks away from the one-year anniversary where Bruce Arians told him to shape up or ship out after Fournette was labeled a healthy scratch during the Bucs' Week 14 matchup against the Vikings.
Fournette took the message in stride and the rest is history.
"He came back in 30 minutes and said, 'Coach, I’m all in,'" Arians said on the Pewter Report Podcast a few months ago. "I said, 'Great, because we are going to need you.' Then [Ronald Jones II] got hurt and Lenny came right to the front and led us all the way."
It's also helping his team win games on the road in November and that's what matters the most. But now, he's helping lead the way,
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