Buccaneers almost stunned the Falcons with miracle final play, but one thing went wrong

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers almost picked up a miracle win over the Falcons on Sunday and it likely would have happened if one of their star receivers had been able to field a bouncing football. 

In one of the wildest final plays you'll ever see, the Bucs came up just six yards short of the end zone as time ran off the clock in their 34-29 loss at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

The craziness started when Tampa drove down to Atlanta's 20-yard line with just seven seconds left to play. Since the Bucs didn't have any timeouts left, coach Dirk Koetter figured his team would only get one more shot at the end zone, so he reached into his bag of tricks. 

On the play, Koetter called for a quarterback draw, and the plan was simple: Jameis Winston was supposed to run as far as he could and then pitch the ball before anyone was able to tackle him. Winston pulled off his part perfectly as he ran down to the Falcons' 11-yard line. 

With Falcons defenders closing in, Winston pitched the ball slightly behind him with the hope that it would land in a teammate's hands and that's when things got crazy. The ball ended up in the hands of Tampa's Adam Humphries (10) who bobbled it and lost it before he was able to gain full control, which left the football SITTING ON THE GROUND for a brief moment at the 5-yard line. At that point, Mike Evans picked up the ball and proceeded to make one of the most impressive football moves that you'll never see again. 

Evans came off his block, picked up the football and then lateraled it as he was being spun around by multiple Falcons' defenders. The amazing thing about all of this is that Evans was able to lateral the ball in the direction of DeSean Jackson even though he was being spun around. And as you'll notice below, every Falcons defender is zeroed in on Evans, which means there's no one out guarding Jackson.  

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Mike Evans somehow got a lateral off to DeSean Jackson.  Fox/NFL Game Pass

Although Evans' aim was perfect, he didn't put quite enough muscle behind the throw. The lateral landed right in front of Jackson, who appeared to have a clear path to the end zone.

In the image below, you can see the football in between Jackson's legs. 

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If DeSean Jackson had fielded this football, he probably would have scored a game-winning touchdown against the Falcons.  Fox/NFL Game Pass

To give you an idea of close Jackson was to the nearest Falcons defender, here's another angle of the play. 

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DeSean Jackson had a shot at a game-winning touchdown.  Fox/NFL Game Pass

All Jackson had to deal was field the ball and sprint forward and there's a 99 percent chance he would have scored. However, that's not what happened. On the play, Jackson was unable to field the grounder and the football ROLLED THROUGH HIS LEGS and went out-of-bounds with no time left on the clock, meaning the Falcons had officially won. 

After the game, Jackson knew he had blown it. The Buccaneers receiver said it would have been an easy touchdown if he had been able to field the ball. 

"I'd have walked in backwards," Jackson said, via the Athletic. "I was anxiously waiting on it. ... The way that play is planned out, I definitely would have for sure scored."

Jackson also said he would have been able to field it, "if I was playing baseball, if I was playing Major League Baseball."

For his part, Winston thought it was the perfect call in a situation like that.

"That was a great play call," Winston said, via NFL.com. "My main goal was to get as far as I can before getting tackled. I believe we had a chance. The ball bounces our way and we aren't questioning that call."

As for Koetter, he thought the play made sense because it kept the ball in Winston's hands while also giving him plenty of options.  

"It was a quarterback draw with options," Koetter said. "You know, it's hard to score on one play from the 20. So, Jameis had options, but when you're going full speed on one play to win from the 20, it's just tough. He's got people chasing him, closing in on him from all sides. There are not a lot of great plays on one play from the 20."

If Jackson had been able to field the ball, the Buccaneers probably would have won, defensive coordinator Mike Smith would probably still have a job and Tampa would be sitting in a second place tie in the NFC South. Instead, they lost, Smith was fired and they're all alone in third place

Here's a full look at the Tampa miracle that almost was. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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