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‘Playoff Lenny’ helps Buccaneers to Super Bowl title

Quarterback Tom Brady and linebacker Devin White were instrumental in the Buccaneers’ 31-9, Super Bowl victory over Kansas City.

They also teamed up on an important mission in September that paid dividends Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

Brady and White both reached out to Leonard Fournette, who became a free agent just before the season opener when he was released by the Jaguars.

“They just told me they wanted me to come join the team and the organization,” Fournette said Sunday of those conversations. “It was history from there.”

Fournette ran for a game-high 89 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s victory. He also hauled in all four targets in the passing game for another 46 yards.

Any team in the league could have acquired Fournette during training camp for a late-round pick. The Buccaneers are sure glad none of them did.

He agreed to a one-year deal with Tampa Bay in hopes of competing for a title and helped the Buccaneers reach that goal.

The fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft, who had two 1,000-yard rushing seasons in three years in Jacksonville, averaged 112 yards from scrimmage in four postseason games for the Buccaneers.

He became particularly important when backfield-mate Ronald Jones missed the first playoff game against Washington.

“When (Jones) didn’t play, I told Tom and (offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich) and (coach Bruce Arians), this is what I’m here for,” Fournette said. “I’m ready for big moments. I’ve always liked big games.”

Even with Jones back in the lineup the last three games, Fournette retained a starring role.

On Sunday, he had 59 yards on the ground after halftime, including a 27-yard touchdown run to answer a Kansas City field goal that had cut the Buccaneers’ lead to 21-9.

“Tom was preaching about being first in the league in yards after contact,” Fournette said. “I’m a firm believer when you keep hitting somebody in the mouth throughout the game, they’re not going to want to attack anymore. That’s exactly what happened.”

With the touchdown, Fournette joined Terrell Davis (1997) and Larry Fitzgerald (2008) as the only players to score in four playoff games in a single postseason.

The former Louisiana State standout even shouted out his own nickname bestowed upon him on social media.“In the long run, Playoff Lenny came alive,” Fournette said.

It was a great relief for Fournette to help win a championship after getting out of Jacksonville. He admitted he dealt with a hangover effect early in the season from the way his time with the Jaguars came to an end.

“It was a struggle for me at first with things still bothering me in the back of my head,” he said. “But God doesn’t make mistakes, so I kept my faith.”

Minus Fournette, the Jaguars went 1-15 and had the worst record in the league this season.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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