'Playoff Lenny' Fournette comes 'alive' in Buccaneers' Super Bowl victory

One remarkable turnaround was culminated by Leonard Fournette on Sunday.

The former No. 4 overall pick was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars at the end of August, picked up to join an all-star-laden Tampa Bay Buccaneers team and, following a mercurial regular season, led the Bucs' rushing attack in their 31-9 Super Bowl victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Fournette played a crucial role in the Bucs' championship win, leaving an exclamation point on his first -- and possibly only -- season with Tampa Bay.

"In some games, I didn't get a chance to help anyone. But in the long run, 'Playoff Lenny' came alive," Fournette said following the game, via the Tampa Bay Times' Eduardo Encina. "I thank God every day that the Bucs gave me a second opportunity to play football, the game that I love."

Ahead of the game, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported the Buccaneers are interested in bringing Fournette back next season, as he signed a one-year deal in 2020 with the squad. However, Garafolo added that Fournette's return depends on how much interest he gets from other teams.

Following his Super Bowl performance, there's reason to believe he raised some eyebrows and could open some checkbooks.

Fournette bulled through many a Chiefs would-be tackler en route to game-highs of 16 carries and 89 yards, which included a massive 27-yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter that essentially concluded any of the Super Bowl dramatics. Often chastised for his inability in the passing game, he also hauled in four receptions for 46 yards.

"He did a nice job. They used him in the run game and he ran hard," Chiefs coach Andy Reid told reporters. "And they used him in the play-pass game as a checkdown and he did a nice job with that. We need to a better job of making sure we're in position to cover him. Listen, give the kid credit, he did a nice job."

Fournette saw a big game coming, or at least quarterback Tom Brady convinced him of it.

"Tom preached all week that they were 31st in the league in yards after carry and yards after the catch, too," Fournette said. "Their run defense wasn't that good. I take pride in that, knowing those guys don't want to tackle. Sometimes you make a guy miss and at the same time you punch him in the mouth. And then at the end of the game, they're not going to want to tackle you and that's exactly what happened."

The Super Bowl was Fournette's fourth straight game -- all of them postseason outings -- in which he had double-digit carries, which never happened in the regular season. During a historic run to the franchise's second Super Bowl, Fournette got the touches he didn't often see in the regular season.

"We got him pretty late and he just showed up big," Brady said, via the Tampa Bay Times. "It was amazing how he performed in the biggest moments. Just so proud of him."

After he was discarded by the Jags, who ended up as the worst team in the league, he found a new home with the Bucs, who ended up as the best team in the world. With such a splendid ending to the season, Fournette's definitely left a lasting impression. But how long his home remains with Tampa Bay is a quandary left to be answered in the coming offseason.

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