Charles Sims celebrates his first half TD reception – Photo by: Getty Images
For the first time since late 2012, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can say they are an above-.500 football team.
The Bucs went to Atlanta and swung a tight game to their favor by scoring 21 straight points from the second to third quarters. Tampa Bay never let the Falcons get closer than a touchdown after that to win 31-24, but needed a final defensive stand to secure the win. It’s the Bucs’ third straight victory over Atlanta after sweeping their NFC South foe last year.
Atlanta held a slight edge in total yardage, 374-371, and Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston’s first-quarter interception held as the only turnover committed by either team.
WHEN IT COUNTS
A couple impact plays from the secondary in the fourth quarter helped keep Atlanta from not only getting back into the game, but potentially taking a lead.
The first came early in the quarter with quarterback Matt Ryan trying to move the Falcons into scoring position with a deep pass down the middle of the field to receiver Julio Jones. With the ball in Jones’ usually reliable hands, Bucs safety Bradley McDougald broke it up with a nice hit. Atlanta wasn’t able to advance farther than midfield and was forced to punt.
Then with about 5 minutes remaining and the Falcons deep in Bucs territory, cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah got in on the action by blanketing running back Tevin Coleman and causing an incompletion on third-and-8. The play forced Atlanta to settle for another Matt Bryant field goal and keep Tampa Bay on top by a touchdown, 31-24.
After missing on a couple early passes and getting picked off by Desmond Trufant in the opening quarter, quarterback Jameis Winston turned things around in a huge way. The second-year signal caller completed 23 of 33 pass attempts for 281 yards and four scores.
The touchdown passes were spread out to four different targets. Tight ends Brandon Myers and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, running back Charles Sims and receiver Mike Evans each found the end zone. Evans led all pass catchers with 99 yards on five receptions.
Playing in his first game since sitting out the last four of 2015, linebacker Kwon Alexander performed like he was making up for time missed.
The second-year linebacker was all over the field and racked up a career-high 17 tackles, one sack, two tackles for a loss and two quarterback hits. It’s Alexander’s seventh double-digit tackle day in 13 career games.
The Bucs’ defensive leader stepped up again.
Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy capped an All-Pro performance by reaching up to deflect Ryan’s fourth-and-10 pass attempt at the line with just over a minute to play. The swat gave possession back to Tampa Bay and let Winston put the offense in the victory formation.
Two of McCoy’s three tackles came behind the line of scrimmage and the late-game pass breakup was his second. The seven-year veteran also bumped his career sack total up to 36.5 by bringing Ryan down in the third quarter.
TIGHT ENDS, TIGHT WORK
The Bucs entered the game with four tight ends on the active roster and half of them found the end zone Sunday.
Brandon Myers hauled in Tampa Bay’s first touchdown of the season with a 4-yard catch in the second quarter. The veteran has served primarily as a blocking tight end in his two-plus seasons in Tampa Bay and the touchdown was his first as a Buccaneer. His last score came Week 14 in 2013 when he played for the New York Giants.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins delivered one of the game’s top highlights with his diving 30-yard catch in the end zone. It was his only grab of the day, but he also drew a pass interference call on third down during the game’s opening drive. The call helped keep the ball in Tampa Bay’s possession and led to a 43-yard field goal by Roberto Aguayo.
Cameron Brate got in on the action with 30 yards on three catches.
Despite starting his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, receiver Mike Evans is coming into this year with something to prove.
Dropped balls have dogged him since entering the NFL, but Evans answered his critics Sunday with a solid five-catch, 99-yard performance. Included in that showing was an athletic 45-yard touchdown grab in double coverage that proved to be the difference in the game.
Punters don’t always get a lot of credit, but newcomer Bryan Anger had a nice debut in pewter and red. The fifth-year veteran averaged 49.4 yards on five punts, including a long of 57, and put two inside the Atlanta 20.
None was bigger than his 41-yard boot right after the two-minute warning that pinned the Falcons at their own 9.
The Bucs stay on the road next week and take their 1-0 record out west to face the Arizona Cardinals. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:05 p.m.
Good game and road win! Overall pretty happy. D line looks much improved. That One blown Coverage in first half sucked. Winston looked good. Sailed some balls first qtr as usual but settled in nice. Think we should ran more early maybe. Go Buc’s!!!!
Overall that was an excellent effort except for stupid penalties and a couple of blown assignments. Run d has to get an A+.
Jameis had 4 TD passes but 3 of them were tremendous efforts by the receivers.
They have to sweep the Falcons and Saints to be a playoff team.
Nice road, division win on opening weekend. Yes, plenty of things to work on and clean up. But, to get a win in this league is difficult, so plenty to be optimistic about. Go Bucs!
Very good game!!! Eric could have cited more players than what he did. So I’ll do it.
Doug Martin had some solid runs and great catches. Over 100 yds total offense. Very nice
Brent Grimes wasn’t splashy but solid. Very nice
Hargraves like Grimes, not splashy but dependable. Very nice
Thought McDougal show some moxie.
Conte hustling to save a TD.
Entire line allowing no sacks.
ALL IN ALL a god outing. I did not have chew all my finger nails off at the end of the game, just a couple.
Now some critique.
What a ticky tacky call on McCoy for a choreographed celebration. First off that is the first time I have heard that one. Jeez let the guys have a little fun.
Smith should have drilled it into their heads to cover Julio Jones.
Besides those 2 gripes I’ve no complaints, only smiles.
Excellent all around game against a division opponent. We looked great on offense and good on defense and special teams. Everyone played about as well as I expected given last year’s performance against the Falcons and the changes made by both teams. Road division wins to start a season create momentum so hopefully we can carry that into next week.
Tickey tack call on McCoy.
Jones got his TD against a zone coverage where it didn’t look like everone knew what they were supposed to be doing.
Atlanta looked improved from last year but so did we.
A lot less stupid penalties except on punt returns.
Good pressure on Ryan and better coverage on the receivers overall.
Everyone was involved on the offense and wasn’t that a great TD catch and run by Sims to end the half.
I guess flailing arms around like swatting at a bee now gets a penalty. Glad someone noticed the blown coverage in zone and not blame the cornerbacks being “too short”
Fowlgoons completion percentage near 70. We can’t expect to win in Arizona if that continues to be the case. Jameis can’t be throwing 4 TDs every week. Keon has to be the Defensive Player of the Month for his performance today. Sorry to see Smith go down with an injury but expect Jones to take up the slack. This season is going to be great fun. Next season will be even better. Go Bucs.
Hope to hear something soon from PR about Jacques Smith injury.
Nice way to start the season off and we will turn some heads in the coming weeks. Loved the offense and the defense bent but didn’t break and came up with some key stops. Nice to see ASJ catch a TD pass and his and Evans’ TD catches were sweet. DMart and Sims were a nice 1-2 punch with each having their own strengths that can mess with defenses. Sims’ getting that key 3rd down was critical. Nice to see Aguayo hush his critics, not only in that last preseason game, but by going perfect today as well. Winston’s line 23/33 for 281 yds with 4 TD’s and 1 INT and a passer rating of 122.6 is nice to see. I like Humphries with the return duties, sure handed and quick and we have so many weapons on offense. Evans didn’t catch a pass until the 2nd half and still caught 5 for 99 yds and a TD. VJax made a mistake on his route that was picked, but all is forgiven. Shepard contributed and good job by the O-Line. Nice to see Hargreaves do well in his first game and the D-Line was rejuvenated with Robert Ayers, but Kwon Alexander was all over the place! 17 of the team’s 61 tackles, 15 of them solo tackles. Boy did we miss him! Very pleased with this one, but let’s celebrate today and then get ready for the Cards. Would love to surprise them next week.
The team looked professional. Loved the attitude shown on the field. Body language said, we came to win. Great catches of well-thrown balls by ASJ and Evans. Defense ok given it’s the first full game in a new scheme. Loved the aggressiveness on both sides of the ball. Our biggest weakness appears to be our safeties. Line blocked well for Jamies on the whole but there were few holes to run through in the rushing game. Anytime you win outright as an underdog in a division game, that’s big. Good confidence builder. Koetter needs to work on play calling when backed up in our own end. We seemed to be starting all day from own ten yard line. First time we’ve had a real punter on our side. He kicked us out of some holes. Now, will everyone get off GMC’s back and how about that Simms who so many posters thought was a bust. It takes time to grow in the NFL.
does anybody know who were the Inactives? I can’t find it anywhere.
Hi Horse! Good win. Go Bucs!
Info you requested.
Roy Cummings @RCummingsNFL 10h10 hours ago
#Bucs inactive for today:
QB Ryan Griffin
S Ryan Smith
LB Devante Bond
T Leonard Wester
DE Channing Ward
DT DaVonte Lambert
G Caleb Benenoch
macabee; thanks, I knew i can count on you. I sure hope Bond can play some because Daryl Smith concerns me.
KWON. That is my new mantra. Send in the Kwon. Give me more Kwon. Aleppo ? I don’t know where Aleppo is but I only care where Kwon is.
Aleppo, Good one!
Obviously the Falcons D isn’t going to be the toughest D we face all year, but certainly a great start by Winston. Be interesting to see how he fares vs the Cardinals. I thought before the year if Winston plays like a top 5 QB we make the playoffs, a top 10 QB we might make the playoffs. I just wasn’t sure he could make that leap this year. Well, this is obviously just 1 game, but I hope he continues to prove me wrong.
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