In an game that was advertised as a “tack meet”, meaning there would be plenty of running up of the scoreboard, the start of this contest was as advertised. On their first drive, the Buccaneers, led by quarterback Jameis Winston, took the ball 75 yards on eight plays for a touchdown. A big 28-yard run by running back Peyton Barber was the catalyst in the middle of that drive, and it was topped of by a touchdown pass to tight end Cameron Brate, who has now scored in three straight weeks after not recording a catch in the first two games. The Bucs missed the extra point, so their lead was just 6-0.
But the Falcons, with plenty of offensive fire power themselves, answered the Buccaneers touchdown with one of their own on even less plays. On the Falcons’ 75-yard, 6-play touchdown drive, quarterback Matt Ryan did not have a single incomplete pass. Big passes to wide receivers Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Mohammed Sanu marched down the field easy for six points. The Falcons made their extra point, so they took the lead 7-6.
The Bucs got a first down on their next drive, but not much after that, as they were forced to punt after going 30-yards in six plays. When Atlanta took over for their second drive after that, however, they did not slow their attack down and were able to take it 86 yards in 14 plays for another score. They extended their lead to 14-6.
The Bucs offense came to a screeching haul on the following drive, as they only went three yards in three plays before punting. And just like they did on their previous drive, the Falcons answered by going 58 yards in seven plays for yet another touchdown. They extended their lead then to 21-6.
On the Bucs next drive, they finally started to get it into gear. A long pass to DeSean Jackson to start the drive off gave the team momentum, but a forced throw by Winston over the middle was easily picked off by Damontae Kazee of the Falcons.
The Bucs defense finally held firm after that, forcing the Falcons into their first three-and-out of the game, and that gave the Bucs offense new life.
On a drive that included a 10-yard pass to Ronald Jones, a 10-yard pass to Mike Evans and a 10-yard pass to O.J. Howard, the Bucs were able to answer one of the Falcons touchdowns with one of their own, bringing the score to 13-21 just before the half.
However, 25 seconds left on the clock proved to be too much, as the Falcons drove the ball quickly into field goal range to extend their lead by kicking three points right before the half for a score of 24-13.
The Falcons started off the second half very slow with a three-and-out. When the Bucs took over, a long 51-yard pass and catch from Winston to wide receiver Adam Humphries brought the ball all the way to the 2 yard line. But just as you thought luck was on their side, Winston threw a pass to the end zone that went off the helmet of a defender for an interception by Atlanta.
Thankfully for the Bucs, the Falcons couldn’t do much with their next drive off the turn over, as it ended in with a Jason Pierre-Paul sack, his fifth of the season. When the Bucs took over, Winston and company drove it 43 yards in seven plays and were able to kick a field goal and get the game back to a one-score contest at a score of 16-24.
The Bucs defense really seemed to be getting the better of the Falcons offense in the second half, and that continued with another small drive by the Falcons that ended in a punt. When the Bucs got the ball back, they did settle for three points and instead punched it in via a throw from Winston to Godwin that got them within a tie. However, after missing the 2-point conversion, the Bucs then trailed 22-24.
But that woke the Falcons’ offense up, and Matt Ryan and his guys went right to work. The Falcons burned over five minutes of game clock on their 10-play, 75-yard drive, which resulted in another seven points and an extending of the lead to 31-22. Bucs defenders Gerald McCoy were injured on the drive, and the depleted depth chart was overwhelmed by that of Tevin Coleman, Julio Jones and Austin Hooper.
But the Bucs weren’t done yet. When they got the ball back, then down two scores, they were determined to climb back. Winston led a long 9-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by a short touchdown pass to running back Peyton Barber. The big catches on the drive were to DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard with a crazy bobbled catch to Chris Godwin in between. That brought the score to 31-29 with Atlanta getting the ball with just under four minutes to go.
The Falcons started their next drive with an 18-yard pass to Julio Jones. A few more passes and runs after that put them right around mid-field, but the Bucs defense held firm there. However, a long 57-yard field goal by Matt Bryant extended the lead even more. to 34-29.
The Bucs got the ball with a minute left needing a touchdown.
The drive started with a long pass to DeSean Jackson, then to Mike Evans, then to Adam Humphries…
But that’s all they could get, and the game ended 34-29 in favor of the Falcons.
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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