The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went up to the ATL and put a beat down on those dirty birds. Jameis threw for four touchdowns, The Wrath of Kwon had 17 tackles and Atlanta fans went home grumbling something about Kyle Shannahan.
It looked great on television the first go around, but were the Bucs really as good as they looked on Sunday?
What I Got Right
The defense certainly wore down as the game went on. They were mostly stout to begin the game, only a rookie mistake by Vernon Hargreaves, a turnover by Jameis, and Tevin Coleman simply outrunning Bucs LB Daryl Smith allowed the Falcons to move the ball into Tampa Bay territory. Julio didn’t catch a pass until the second quarter of the game and the Bucs sacked Ryan twice in the first half.
Second half, it was a different story. You could literally see the energy begin to slip out of the defense and the offense having back-to-back 3-and-outs to start the fourth quarter certainly didn’t help. As the play count mounted, Tampa Bay’s effectiveness seemed to go down. The pass rush wasn’t as effective, the coverage was springing leaks and the Falcons seemed to have their way until they reached the red zone.
Thankfully, the offense was able to bleed two minutes off the clock late in the fourth and give the defense the breather they needed. That final drive, the Bucs defense was again flying around and doing what it needed to do to secure the win.
What I Got Wrong
I was banging on the offensive line for not opening running lanes for Doug Martin, but Atlanta was totally focused on stopping the run. Its what made them so vulnerable to the long ball throughout. I guess Dan Quinn’s strategy was take away what the Bucs do best – running the football – and make Jameis be accurate down the field. Winston struggled with downfield accuracy last year, so it was a good strategy in theory. Only, Winston (with the exception of the first drive of the game) was on point on the long ball and the results were disastrous for the Falcons defense.
Jameis wouldn’t have been able to do that had the offensive line not provided him superb protection. Yes, he got hit a few times (Atlanta was credited with 5 QB hits), but when you hold the ball that long looking for the big play downfield, guys are going to get to you. O-line did a solid job in pass pro and did what they could in the running game facing an 8/9 man front.
One other thing I got wrong – I thought the Bucs sat on the lead, but as coach Koetter explained (and I was able to verify), the Bucs had terrible field position in the fourth quarter. It would have been insanely stupid to try and pass their way out of it. As usual, coach knows better than THIS jackwagon.
Meh. When you are in the bottom half of the league, you get the crappier commentators. Sam Rosen is okay, I guess. David Diehl honestly adds nothing to the broadcast for me. Glad I listened to Mean Gene and Dave Moore live and wished I could do it again during the re-watch.
The What the Buc Moment of the Game
Definitely Charles Simms whirling dervish run. He made not one, not two but five Falcons flail aimlessly trying to catch him. It reminded me of classic Barry Sanders and Chris Berman sound effects “Whooop! Whoooop! Whoooop!”. There’s something special about Buccaneer players making a Falcons defense look like fools.
Around the Dirty South
While the Bucs were handing the Falcons their can of whupass, the Saints were the Saints, wasting a masterful Drew Brees performance and blowing a big lead to the Raiders while the Panthers were stunned by Trevor Simiean and the defending Super Bowl champion Broncos.
Were the Bucs as Good as They Looked on Sunday?
Hmm. Hard to say at this point. While the offense certainly was really solid, the defense had its moments of “Oh no, we’re going to get ‘You Like That’d’ again!”. And while I fully expect Atlanta to join the Saints at the bottom of the NFC South, its never easy to beat a division rival in their own house. It was a big win, the Bucs played well and Tampa Bay fans should be very happy with the outcome. Just hold off on ordering those tickets to Houston in February.
The Bucs are back out on the road to take on a very ticked off Arizona Cardinals team. This is a very tough matchup for the Bucs. It is indeed a measuring stick game. The Cardinals can’t go 0-2 losing twice at home, that would be a devastating start to their season, so Tampa Bay should expect the best Arizona has to offer. If Tampa Bay can stay in the game, they have a shot for a huge upset. A few big plays by Jameis and company might let that doubt creep in for Cardinal players. A turnover or three by the defense would help, too.
Photo Credit: Cliff Welch / Pewter Report