Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Arrelious Benn let himself down, initially.
In the second quarter of Tampa Bay's game at Minnesota, Benn dropped a pass from QB Josh Freeman on second-and-20. In the third quarter, he was penalized for an illegal shift, nullifying a 17-yard touchdown reception by Mike Williams that would have narrowed Tampa Bay's deficit to three points. Instead, the Bucs trailed 17-10 after settling for a field goal.
Instead of packing it in, however, Benn stepped up to catch a game-altering touchdown pass late in Tampa Bay's 24-20 victory.
Benn blew past Minnesota CB Cedric Griffin to make the 25-yard, fourth-quarter catch in the end zone, cutting Tampa Bay's deficit to 20-17 with 6:45 remaining.
"Free (Freeman) told me he was going to throw it to me before the play," Benn said. "I came out and made a play. I started off flat, really, in the game. I know I need to bounce back to get to where I need to get to.
"As the game went on, I got better. I had the dropped ball early and a penalty. It gets better as you go. That's definitely going to happen."
Benn finished with the one reception for 25 yards, but he also snatched the praise of Freeman after Tampa Bay's victory.
"Arrelious knows what it is," Freeman said. "Throughout the game, nobody is going to play perfect, but it's great he comes back and helps us win. Everybody is going to make a mistake, and when he does he might be a little too hard on himself. But at the same time, he's a guy who is huge for us.
"Going back on that touchdown, I told him they were going to be sucking in on LeGarrette (Blount) and so I told him to just run by him, beat him and I will give you a chance."
Bucs coach Raheem Morris spoke with special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes to make sure they were on the same page with a gutsy call in the third quarter.
"I talked to my special teams coordinator and said, 'Hey, we're going to stop them on defense. After (we) score, we're going to kick an onside kick right away,' " Morris said.
After Blount scored on a 27-yard touchdown run, Stukes initiated the plan and had punter Michael Koenen deliver an onside kick, which was recovered by CB Elbert Mack on Tampa Bay's 47-yard line. The last time Tampa Bay recorded a successful onside kick was against the New York Jets on Dec. 12, 2009, when Mack recovered the kick.
Tampa Bay advanced to Minnesota's 12-yard line, but Freeman's pass to TE Kellen Winslow was intercepted by Husain Abdullah. Still, Morris said the onside kick recovery was huge for his team.
"We didn't score, necessarily, but it gave us enough momentum to go and win that football game," Morris said.
Bucs safe with Sean Jones
Tampa Bay struggled to get pressure on Minnesota QB Donovan McNabb with its front four linemen, so the Bucs improvised. Morris, who serves as Tampa Bay's defensive coordinator, called a safety blitz with Sean Jones to throw off McNabb, which worked to perfection.
Jones sacked McNabb for a 12-yard loss. It was the fourth sack of Jones' career.
Minnesota had possession on Tampa Bay's 11-yard line in the fourth quarter when Jones blitzed on third-and-11 and batted down McNabb's pass attempt to RB Lorenzo Booker. The Vikings were forced to settle for a field goal and 20-10 lead with 9:45 remaining.
"Coach (Morris) called some good blitzes at good times in the game," Jones said. "We did it on third down a couple of times. We were able to execute them. We got a sack on one and were able to knock the ball down on another one. So, I think later in the game, we tried to get pressure on the quarterback anyway we could."
Tale of two halves
The Bucs allowed 324 yards of offense in the first half of the season-opening loss to Detroit. Tampa Bay gave up 284 yards in the first half against the Vikings. On offense, Tampa Bay had 108 yards and seven first downs in the first half against Detroit, and 62 yards and three first downs against Minnesota.
Streaks and such
Winslow extended his pass-catching streak to 78 consecutive games with four receptions for 44 yards. Entering the game, Winslow's was the third-longest active streak among tight ends and eighth overall.
CB Ronde Barber started his 185th consecutive game, extending the NFL's longest active streak. Barber has played in 210 consecutive games, the second-longest streak overall and the longest among non-kickers. Minnesota K Ryan Longwell played in his NFL-best 226th consecutive game.
With Sunday's 24-20 comeback victory, the Bucs overcame a 17-point deficit, tying for the second-largest comeback in team history. It also marked the eighth time the Buccaneers have earned a double-digit comeback win since 2008, the most in the NFL during that time. …Tampa Bay has gone 56 straight games scoring seven or fewer points in the first quarter. …Jeremy Zuttah started at left guard in place of Ted Larsen and defensive tackle Brian Price started for Roy Miller. …Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson set a franchise record with 54 career rushing touchdowns. …The Bucs have won five straight against the Vikings.