Jamel Dean didn’t want to go down without a fight.
The third-year defensive back came up with a big-time play in the third quarter of Sunday’s divisional round game between the Bucs and Rams. With Tampa Bay trailing 27-6, Dean stripped the ball from Cooper Kupp’s grasp. Sean Murphy-Bunting scooped the ball up and set up the Bucs in good field position.
The forced fumble was the first of Dean’s NFL career. For Kupp, it was his first lost fumble of the season.
Tampa Bay made the most of Dean’s play. Tom Brady and Co. mounted a seven-play drive that included a fourth-and-9 conversion and was capped off by a Leonard Fournette rushing touchdown.
Still, the Bucs trail 27-13. But if the defending Super Bowl champions complete the comeback, Dean’s forced fumble will be looked back on as the turning point.