Welcome to my weekly post-game column, where I’ll take a look at the moment(s) the game turned either in favor or against the Buccaneers. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive look at all the reasons the Bucs won or lost, but instead the key moment or two where things went north or south for the team.
On a day where the Bucs’ short-handed defense left a lot to be desired, Tampa Bay’s offense couldn’t have drawn the game up much better in the team’s 44-27 win over Atlanta. There were plenty of points where it appeared the Bucs had made the game-changing, turning point play, but Tampa Bay’s defense struggled to shut the door, leaving the door open for the Bucs’ best player on Sunday to make the play of the game.
On second-and-4 from the Falcons’ 46-yard line, Tom Brady was sacked by an unblocked Dante Fowler off the edge, putting the team in third-and-12 from their own 46. Chris Godwin ran a simple slot-go and Brady took a shot for a jump ball, which a leaping Godwin won brilliantly over Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen.
The 47-yard gain not only converted a huge third-and-12, but it set Tampa Bay up at the Atlanta 7-yard line for a crucial touchdown four plays later that stretched the team’s lead to ten points with under four minutes remaining. It was Godwin who capped the critical red zone possession, snatching a 4-yard laser from Brady in the front of the end zone on third down to give the Bucs a comfortable lead.
Godwin not only made the game-changing play, but he was also the game-changing player for the Bucs on Sunday, stepping up in a huge way when Mike Evans went down with a knee injury early in the game. Godwin finished the contest with five catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns – his first 100-yard game of the season. The Bucs’ star receiver finished the 2020 campaign with 65 catches for 840 yards and seven touchdowns in less than 11 full games due to an assortment of injuries. Over the past three games, Godwin has four touchdowns and three receptions over 40 yards.
The Bucs flirted with disaster for awhile due to being overwhelmed on the defensive side of the ball, but Godwin and Brady made sure the game wouldn’t slip away in the fourth quarter. In the past, this might have been a game Tampa Bay lost, letting an inferior team come back from a 13-point halftime deficit, but the defense summoned a few red zone wins, and the Bucs offense wouldn’t be deterred all day, never punting on the afternoon. If Evans does miss time due to injury, his impact will be tough to replace, but the Bucs are lucky to have another No. 1 wide receiver-type player in Godwin heading into the playoffs.
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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