If Tampa Bay running back Leonard Fournette tires of spending Sundays getting tackled, he could have a future on the motivational speaking circuit. In addition to his arms and legs, the Bucs needed Fournette’s words to rally them after falling 10 points behind in the first half.
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“He spoke at halftime, pushed us forward, then came and supported whatever he was talking about,” linebacker Shaq Barrett said of Fournette’s halftime speech.
He backed it up, okay. His half-time pep talk – and four touchdowns – propelled Tampa to their second straight victory, 38-31.
Despite Fournette’s two first-half touchdowns (one on the ground, one in the air), the Bucs struggled to move the ball consistently or prevent Indy from doing the same. Their poor effort inspired Fournette to do everything Knute Rockne in the locker room before the start of the second half.
“I was like, ‘You have to have a will and a desire,'” Fournette said. “’You have to be willing to risk it all. Play it by game, you have to want to win, you have to want to fight, every time.’ I think they got this message and turned off their lights. “
Fournette continued, “You could see the vibe – the energy of the people was down. And it wasn’t like we [were] over there getting our asses fucked. It’s just the little things that separate us to win the game against them. So just try to boost everyone who comes out. And thank goodness it worked. “
Now in his second season with Tampa, Fournette wasn’t just talking, he was walking. He finished with 100 rushing yards, seven receptions and four total touchdowns.
The combination of play and Fournette’s gab ultimately led the Buccaneers to beat Indy 24-7 in the final two quarters of the game.
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“We were all watching him run and do great things with the ball. It energizes us on the sidelines,” added defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. “We see him running, going strong, and it makes us want to play better. “
Next stop on the Fournette speaking tour: Atlanta, which will host the Tampa Ted Talk on Sunday afternoon.