Anyone who has interacted with Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles knows of his incredibly laid back demeanor. He’s soft-spoken and unassuming, commanding a room without the loud bravado of other coaches. So when Bowles gets angry, the Bucs players know it. And on Sunday against the Falcons, he was not pleased with the defensive effort in the first half.
“Bowles wasn’t happy with our performance in the first half,” cornerback Carlton Davis said. “He had a halftime speech that really stuck to us, got us fired up. We always wanna carry out our jobs for him. He’s just such a good coach, and he’s passionate about it. We know the standard and we have to keep up the standard at that point. We knew we needed this win, a division win. So we had to come out and shut ’em out.”
The Bucs uncharacteristically allowed the Falcons to rush for 102 first half yards, including 99 on called run plays. 63 of those yards came on the game’s opening drive, with Atlanta gaining seven, 39 and 17 yards on consecutive carries. The Falcons scored ten points on offense, moving the ball with ease on most drives. Tampa Bay did make a critical goal line stand, however, and notched three first-half sacks of Matt Ryan. But outside of a couple plays, the Bucs were outplayed by Atlanta’s offense in the first 30 minutes.
Bucs S Andrew Adams Photo Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
“Actually, I was getting an IV,” Davis said of the halftime speech, laughing. “All I heard was him yelling about the game, about the runs. And I knew what time it was. I was like, ‘he’s pissed off, just leave him alone, just go play’. So I didn’t get too close to him after that.”
In the second half, the Bucs run defense returned to form. On 10 Falcons carries, Bowles’ unit surrendered just 20 yards. That effort helped shut out the Falcons, turning away several potential scoring drives inside Bucs territory. The Bucs finished with five sacks of Ryan, tying a season-high mark.
Tampa Bay returns to action on Sunday against the visiting Buffalo Bills.