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The Bucs second primetime game of the year held what little magic this 2017 season had left in it. With a divisional opponent in town, revenge on the mind and their Super Bowl winning head coach with his name up in the Ring of Honor, this was suppose to be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers moment.

However, this moment, along with many others this season, was squandered as the Bucs fell to the Falcons once again this season, this time by a score of 24-21.

When the Falcons and Buccaneer met for the first time, there was good offense on both sides right out of the gate. That wasn’t the case this time around as each team’s first possession ended with three-and-outs.

However, after each team got that out of their system, both started to get on a roll.

The Falcons were the first to get things going with a 9-play, 62-yard drive that included quite a bit of wide receiver Justin Hardy and running back Devonta Freeman, two player who weren’t factors in the team’s previous meeting. After getting down to the Bucs 6-yard line, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan tossed a touchdown pass to Hardy on third down to open up the scoring 7-0.

Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston got his team on a roll as well in response, orchestrating an 8-play, 75-yard touchdown of their own. The drive started with some nice running by Buccaneers back Peyton Barber, who got the start Monday as regular starter Doug Martin was inactive for violating team rules. The drive was capped off with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Winston to tight end O.J. Howard.

On the Falcons next drive, they continued to put their foot on the gas. On this drive, Ryan connected with his favorite target, Julio Jones, to get the Falcons into Bucs territory. Running back Freeman was once again a major player on this drive, as he caught a big 29-yard pass as well as punched the touchdown in to make the game a 14-7 lead.

As they did their first time out after going down on the scoreboard, Tampa Bay was about to punch the ball in for an equalizing score before Barber fumbled within the Falcons 10-yard line. The Buccaneers were on an 11-play, 85-yard drive before that fumble. In the drive, Winston had big passes to tight ends Antony Auclair and Alan Cross, who were getting a lot of playing time for injured Cameron Brate and Howard.

The Falcons took over with the ball deep in their own territory, but thank to a big 29-yard pass to Jones and a 22-yard run from Freeman, the Falcons got themselves into long field goal range, which Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant ripped right through the pipes 57 yards out. That brought the Falcons lead to 10 with a score of 17-7.

After the Falcons third straight score, there wasn’t much offense before the half. Because of this, the 17-7 score was how these teams ended the first half.

Since they won the toss and elected to defer to the second half, the Buccaneers started with the ball down ten points. Unfortunately, just like they did to open up the game, their first possession of the second half was a three-and-out. Mercifully, however, so was the Falcons’, as they also punted after just three plays on their following drive.

After the dueling punts, the Bucs offense camp alive. After missing on a few big shots down the field to wide receiver Mike Evans earlier in the game, Winston and Evans connected in a big way early in the second half to bring the game to just a three point lead for Atlanta.

On the Falcons following drive, now vulnerable and within striking distance, they put together a 16-play drive that really controlled the clock of the third quarter. As the quarter came to a close, they attempted a short field goal that was blocked by Bucs defensive end William Gholston.  Taking over in their own territory, the Buccaneer offense found some life, but not enough and their drive off the blocked field goal ended with a punt.

On the Falcons following drive, they stopped playing around – more specifically Devonta Freeman stopped playing around. The Falcons started with the ball 87 yards away from the end zone, and 10 plays later they cross that plane. Freeman had runs of 9 yards and 11 yards before ultimately having the 32-yard touchdown run that brought the Falcons lead to 24-14.

With time not on their side, the Buccaneer didn’t give up. Down 10 with 75 yards to go, Winston got into his groove with the offense. Winston completed passes to Chris Godwin, Evans, Brate and ultimately Adam Humphries for a 16-yard touchdown on a drive that brought the game to a 24-21 score with just over four minutes left in the contest.

The Falcons took over, and though their lead was dwindled, they had a chance to run out the clock if they got a few first downs. After converting a first down on their first set of downs, a sack on the next third down by Clinton McDonald gave the Buccaneers offense one more shot.

On the Bucs next drive, they started with the ball on their own 30-yard line with one minute left and no timeouts. On the first play, Winston completed the pass to Brate. On the second play, Winston completed the ball to Martino. On the third play, Winston completed the pass to Brate. That brought the Bucs on the edge of field goal range with six seconds left.

And a miss by Patrick Murray ended the comeback just short.

Falcons won 24-21.

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston played what was statistically the best game of his young career with 299 yards and three touchdowns on 27-of-35 passes. Running back Peyton Barber finished the game with 53 yards on 13 carries. Wide receiver Mike Evans led the team in receiving with 79 yards on five catches with a touchdown. Tight end Cameron Brate was next in line with 49 yards on four catches.

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

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: trevor@pewterreport.com
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TBAtlas
3 years ago

It’s an unpopular opinion, but this game was a totally fine loss. We got ravaged by injury and the ball just didn’t bounce our way. Would not shock me in the slightest if we suddenly dominate next year when those plays we lost out on this year turn back our way next year.

I saw fight in this team even when it was getting clobbered and Winston looked like a stud.

tpeluso
Reply to  JustaBuc
3 years ago

I don’t think it’s going to be an unpopular opinion. The boys fought to the bitter end, and it literally came down to a ref faceplanting while spotting the ball and costing us an extra play to get a closer field goal (54 yards was too big an ask for Murray). And like you said, Winston was *awesome* tonight. Played smart football, kept it clean. The injury layoff seems to have re-focused his game and hopefully he can carry this over to next season.

Jlog
Jlog
Reply to  JustaBuc
3 years ago

I will give you that, Winston played the best game of the year, the official screwed us for 15 seconds though..

macabee
3 years ago

Statistically and points on the board, the Bucs lose. And nobody likes moral victories. But I gotta say I liked this game. With all the injuries and key players MIA, I’m proud of the way my Bucs gave their all tonight. I thought against all odds they fought hard – never quit. I thought QB Winston was outstanding. He was poised, kept his head, commanded the plays and stayed within himself. Good for him notwithstanding a few drops. Still a loss, but maybe forgivable in the scheme of things. Go B ucs!

Amo
Amo
3 years ago

I am sick about losing. It is amazing how fumbles usually are recovered by winning teams. It is also painfully obvious losing teams fumble on the 5 yard line. Having typed that, I’m proud of our team tonight. I’m proud we fought hard with our second and third stringers. We showed guts. Praise for Winston, McDonald, Benonoch, (minus one play), Alexander and Conte for playing their hearts out.

chefboho
Reply to  Amo
3 years ago

I said the same thing to my brother. The ball literally never seems to bounce the Bucs way. I think the falcons had two or three fumbles that bounced right to them. Hell, Bryant crushed a 75 yarder and we fumbled on their 5. Those are the plays that seemingly hold us back every year. Gutsy performance, but can we please talk about our training staff. I’ve never in all my life seen so many injuries to a team. We lost ten different players at some point tonight

chefboho
Reply to  chefboho
3 years ago

57 yarder lol

Jlog
Jlog
3 years ago

A couple of things first why the !#$ was normal IP address blocked? Two why wont it let me resole the issue without using my vpn? Three why are these half wits running your website security to begin with as clearly have no clue how to do it. Not ~!#ing kidding that !@$ pisses me off! Still can’t login normally and there solution doesn’t !#$ing work.

Two on topic can someone explain why the clock didn’t stop on previous series when the receiver out of bounds?

e
e
3 years ago

And, to think that there are people that think the Bucs should get rid of Jameis… Seriously?

cgmaster27
3 years ago

Crazy as though this team finds a new way to lose every week. But as posters said above, this one almost feels ok. I have never seen a team get blasted with injuries in a single game like this team. The defense played with a ton of heart and honestly thought the pass rush looked better tonight, especially with how we had in there. Julio was still wide open a couple of times but they played him much better. If not for drops of a fumble I honestly think the bucs score a td on every drive tonight. That fumble… Read more »

tpeluso
Reply to  cgmaster27
3 years ago

I can only think of one worse example this year as far as injuries in a game are concerned, and that was watching the Giants lose their entire WR corps in literally one go against the Chargers.

buddah
3 years ago

Simply great effort. Undermanned and with nothing to play for, the Buccaneers fought to the bitter end. Glazers would be nuts to fire this coach. He’s not like the last three they’ve fired. They are currently number 1 in strength of schedule and have played only one game with their projected starting 22. Don’t give up on this team. The one person I would fire is the conditioning coach and trainer. Absurd how many players have experienced hamstring injuries.

SappAttack
3 years ago

I find the headline misleading of what we saw.

A better headline would have been “Beleaguered Bucs Come up Short in 2nd Half Rally as Winston Silences Critics”

matador
3 years ago

All I want for Xmas:

– A new GM who looks at the world from the inside out and is at least average at
evaluating talent
– A new coach who has enough experience to show us how far Winston can go with good coaching.
– You pick the rest

plopes808
3 years ago

the only disappointing thing about tonight (aside from the official fumbling and costing us 3-5 seconds) was the rash of injuries.

I’m wondering how much of this falls on our training staff. Not sure if it’s just because they’re happening on my team, but I feel like we have an overwhelming amount of injuries every year. Maybe it’s time to look at the training staff…

scubog
3 years ago

Got to agree with the rest of the posters about the effort, especially with the one after another injuries. Even the most biased Winston hater will have a difficult task attempting to drop this loss on the toes of # 3. They can’t even try to add “near interceptions” to his statistics like they often do. Oh wait, there was that play right at the end of the half when backed up on the Bucs side of the 50, Koetter stupidly called a pass play with only seconds remaining, the pass rush flushed Jameis out of the pocket and he… Read more »

Horse
3 years ago

It was a great game at this point in time. Winston played good, The team played their heart out and never gave up. It was a quality loss because at this point losing is okay with me in order to get the best draft position spot as possible. Definitely should shut up some of the anti Winston fans. I wonder if martin will be released today so he has a chance to go with a playoff team? Should be a few on IR tomorrow. Go Bucs! You played well.

pinkstob
3 years ago

Just now getting a chance to post, but as others said the Bucs played well last night. Let’s see if we can translate that into a win next week. Go Bucs!

ikari shidzhi
3 years ago

Damn, if you still can watch it without applying VPN http://zunescene.com over your connection it will be great.

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