After a back and forth battle, points left on the field via the kicking game and turnover troubles doomed the Bucs again, as the Atlanta Falcons came to town and spoiled the Bucs’ final game of the season by a score of 28-22.
The visiting Falcons received the ball to start the game and were able to get a steady drive going early (which isn’t always the case for a Bucs football game). Quarterback Matt Ryan and the rest of the Atlanta offense moved the ball well on their first few plays to get to midfield before a broken coverage left offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo wide open as an eligible receiver for a 33-yard touchdown reception. That opened the scoring at 7-0.
On the the Bucs’ first series, it was a case of good news and bad news. The good news was that Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston didn’t throw an interception on the first drive. The bad news was that on their first play running back Ronald Jones fumbled the ball and it was lost to the Falcons. The Bucs defense was able to hold Atlanta to just 20 yards after the turnover and forced a field goal, but the score still went in favor of the Falcons by double digits at 10-0.
The Bucs next drive got started in a much more favorable way with a 37-yard pass to wide receiver Breshad Perriman. But unfortunately they weren’t able to do much after that. However, that was enough to get them in field goal range to try to chip into their deficit, but a missed field goal meant the score remained 10-0.
On the next two drives, one for each teams, it was the defenses that stepped up and forced two consecutive three-and-outs. Then the Falcons made it all the way to the Bucs’ 32 yard line and opted to go for it on fourth-and-2. They were stopped cold and the Buccaneers were able to take over. Nine plays later, thanks to a drive dominated by Perriman and also running back Peyton Barber, the Bucs found themselves at the goal line facing a fourth-and-goal. Opting to go for it, they targets tight end Cam Brate, who dropped a crucial pass one week ago. This time he left no doubt, reeling in the score to bring the game to a 10-7 contest.
The Falcons were able to control the ball for an extended period of time on their next drive, moving 60 yards in 13 plays. That was enough to get them into field goal range to extend their lead to 13-7. On the Bucs next drive, Winston threw his 29th interception of the season and the Falcons were able to take over with a short field yet again.
Desperate for some positive momentum, on the fifth play of the Falcons’ drive, the Bucs defense showed up big time. As Ryan dropped back to pass on third down, Jason Pierre-Paul was able to knock the ball out of his hands for a fumble, which was picked up and run all the way back for a touchdown by linebacker Devin White. That brought the score to 14-13 in favor of the Buccaneers.
The Falcons were able to to move the ball into field goal range and re-take the lead 16-14 on their next drive. When the Bucs took over with just a minute to go in the half, Winton took two big chances down the field to Perriman: One for 31 yards over the middle to get them into scoring range, and then one for 24 yards to pick up six points instead of three. After the successful 2-point conversion, the Bucs took a 22-16 lead into halftime.
To open up the second half, the Bucs were once again able to get into field goal range, but Matt Gay would miss his second of the game to keep the score at 22-16. On the Falcons’ next drive, they were only able to run seven plays before punting. Tampa Bay was again able to move the ball into field goal range, but Gay once again missed the field goal attempt, his third miss of the game.
When the Falcons took over, they were able to move the ball 57 yards in 13 plays, but that once again ended in zero points after the Bucs defense was able to stone the Atlanta offense on fourth-and-1 at the Tampa Bay 19 yard line.
When the Bucs took over, still up 22-16, they were forced to punt after just three plays. On the Falcons’ next drive they moved the ball 37 yards in nine plays to once again get into field goal range. They converted the three points and brought the score to 22-19.
The Bucs took over up three with just under six minutes to play. After a 10-yard pass to Justin Watson, the Winston tried to avoid a sack and ended up costing the team on an intentional grounding penalty. This would eventually set up a punt with 3:24 left in the game.
As the Falcons took over, they were able to move the ball well, getting to midfield quickly. But after two sacks back Shaq Barrett (his second and third sacks of the game), the Falcons were faced with a long second-and-12. But they were able to convert and move the ball into field goal range with 32 seconds left in the game. A few plays later, with eight second left, the Falcons were faced with a third-and-9. Ryan dropped back and threw one to the end zone that went incomplete. That left the Falcons with a short field goal, which they made to send this game to overtime at a score of 22-22.
And on Winston’s first pass of overtime, the Falcons picked it off for a score to finish this game 28-22 in favor of the visiting team.