NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas
Quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots’ offense hurried to the line with a 13-7 lead over the Buffalo Bills. But what happened thenceforth in the Week 6 tilt was not by the numbers. In many ways, it was not what should have happened.
For Brian Tyms, it didn’t matter.
On his fourth team since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2012, the 6’3”, 210-pound wideout was waiting. He had watched from afar through the first five weeks of the regular season, not knowing if he’d return to the team he forged a spot for in the preseason once his roster exemption was lifted.
The former Florida A&M Rattler, San Francisco 49er, Miami Dolphin and Cleveland Brown didn’t have to observe any longer once Sunday rolled around. His first target of the year fell incomplete in the first quarter, and his opportunities were seldom, but he would make the most of one as the second half opened at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
It was 1st-and-10. The ball was spotted at the 43. There was 12:38 left in the third quarter.
New England’s offense dispersed in “12” personnel, sending halfback Stevan Ridley seven yards deep, and tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Michael Hoomanawanui to the edges of the line. The plan was play action.
All three were in to sell it.
Brady handled the snap and faked the exchange to Ridley. All the while, Buffalo shipped four rushers into the line of scrimmage and three linebackers into underneath coverage.
Only the Patriots’ three personnel men were staying in versus the 4-3 base defense.
As Brady settled his feet in the pocket before him, it grew apparent that wideout Julian Edelman and Tyms were far from settled. One was ready for a deep dig; the other was preparing just to go deep.
And as they did, the matchups were whittled down to four defensive backs and two receivers. Safety Duke Williams assumed Edelman crossing the hashes, while part-time safety Corey Graham along with cornerbacks Leodis McKelvin and Stephon Gilmore traced Tyms deep.
The “X” receiver’s window looked closed as he passed the 30-yard line.
Brady saw something, though, and went deep despite the numbers. And Tyms, known for build-up speed, split the difference as he veered towards the goal posts and crossed the 15.
Gilmore stayed at his left hip, while Graham trailed at his right hip and McKelvin closed from center field.
No. 84 may not have had space, but Brady’s throw had a hand in him finding it.
It was overhead, in stride, and in a sense, perfect, even if the decision was not. But it took more than a spiral for Tyms to outlast the three Bills forming an isosceles around him.
It took a perfect reception, rooted in control and strength through contact.
Tyms could not entirely see the ball before him. His arms were divided by his opponent’s. But once he felt it graze his palms, he did not let it go when Gilmore challenged.
The 2012 first-round pick ripped at it, pulling Tyms helmet-over-cleats to the turf of the end zone.
He toppled. The ball did not.
The booth review did not change the outcome. The score was 20-7 with the extra point.
It marked Tyms’ third career catch. It marked his first NFL touchdown over eight NFL regular-season contests.
Tyms finished having played just eight snaps against Buffalo, with Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson all seated ahead of him in the depth chart. But all the 25-year-old ex-practice squad player needed was one make his October debut worth the wait.
It went 43 yards. And in the process, it went a long way towards affirming what was once a glimpse in August.