Pewter Report editor-in-chief Scott Reynolds:
“In case you were wondering, Bucs fans, Tim Brown did get booed mercilessly as he ran through the tunnel at the end of the game. Brown was wise to kept his helmet on, but Bucs fans are ‘sophisticated’ enough to know not to throw objects at players – unlike out in Oakland.”

“It’s hard to believe that Brian Griese actually overthrew speedy wide receiver Joey Galloway, but he did just that in the third quarter. Galloway was streaking downfield wide open but Griese’s 40-yard throw was about two yards out in front. I asked Griese about that after the game and he kind of laughed and said that should put any questions about his arm strength to rest. I agree.”

“Kudos to safety Dwight Smith and the other Bucs defenders who did a fantastic job of shutting down Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler. Crumpler had over 100 yards on four catches and scored a key fourth quarter touchdown in their previous meeting, but was neutralized by Smith and the Bucs defense today. Smith was matched up one-on-one for most of the day with Crumpler, who was held without a catch until he snagged a 5-yard pass in the fourth quarter. Of course, a big-time pass rush by Tampa Bay’s front seven helped out, too. Smith will have his hands full next week going up against San Diego tight end Antonio Gates.”

“Bucs nickel cornerback Mario Edwards rebounded nicely from being benched last week and had a superb game replacing Torrie Cox, who was inactive due to a DUI arrest early Saturday morning. Edwards shut down whoever the Falcons put in front of him and showed real improvement and a sense of urgency out there today.”

“The thing I liked about how the Bucs played on offense and defense today was how they controlled the line of scrimmage. Atlanta was more physical than Tampa Bay was a few weeks ago when the two teams met at the Georgia Dome, but the Bucs turned the tables today. Michael Vick got beaten to a pulp and the Bucs offensive line showed some improvement in handling under tackle Rod Coleman.”

“If you read the Tampa Tribune this morning you saw yet even more Rich McKay stories and mentions of the McFalcons and McKay Bowl II and III. Is this going to happen twice a year – every year? Folks, the only people in Tampa Bay who are still interested in Rich McKay are some of the Tampa Tribune writers. In fact, they seem infatuated with the guy. Tampa Bay fans seem like they are over him and probably want to read about their hometown team – the Buccaneers – not the Falcons. Yet, there are some newspaper writers who seem to dislike Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen so much that they take personal pot shots at them in their stories. They must feel like mentioning the McFalcons and McKay Bowl III will get under Gruden and Allen’s skin, and that’s what they want. If some local writers want to cover Rich McKay so bad, maybe they need to apply for jobs at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.”

Pewter Report managing editor Jim Flynn:
“It was nice to see the Tampa Bay defense return to its dominating ways Sunday when it sacked Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick five times and pressured him several others. This unit picked Vick off twice and forced him to fumble twice. Those turnovers led to points and kept Vick and Co. off balance all game long. The entire defense deserves credit, but defensive end Simeon Rice and weakside linebacker Derrick Brooks deserve the most credit for taking their games to the level that they played at two years ago when the Bucs won the Super Bowl. If Tampa Bay can pull off the upset in San Diego next Sunday, the Bucs will stand a really good shot of making the playoffs, especially if Brooks and Rice continue to play the way they did Sunday.”

“Bucs fullback Mike Alstott didn’t touch the ball a whole lot until the fourth quarter, but he had a very active game in terms of lead blocking for running back Michael Pittman. Alstott was excellent as a lead blocker Sunday, and he helped Pittman rush for 68 yards on 17 carries (4.2 avg.) and one touchdown. It was nice to see Bucs head coach Jon Gruden use the “A-Train” to put the Falcons away in the fourth quarter when he pounded him all the way to the end zone for the Bucs’ final score, which put them ahead 27-0.”

“Where was Bucs rookie wide receiver Michael Clayton, you ask? Well, Clayton, who finished Sunday’s game with just one catch for 15 yards, spent most of the afternoon getting double teamed by Falcon defenders. That’s one of the main reasons why WR Joey Galloway was able to haul in four passes for 63 yards, including the 36-yard bomb for a score in the third quarter. Who would have thought that the Bucs would be able to use their rookie receiver as a decoy? Well, they did it often on Sunday.”

“Bucs running back Ian Smart made an impressive debut Sunday. With cornerback Torrie Cox inactive because of his DUI arrest, the Bucs decided to activate Smart, who was recently promoted from the practice squad to the active roster. Smart took his first and only carry of the game 25 yards down the right sideline for a first down, which set up kicker Jay Taylor’s 50-yard field goal in the second quarter. He showed some impressive speed and tackle-breaking ability on that carry. He also made a great special teams tackle on a kickoff in the second half. Don’t be surprised to see Smart get more touches as the season goes on, even if it means deactivating RB Earnest Graham.”

“Thank you, Jay Taylor. It’s been nearly half a season since the Bucs made a field goal from 50 yards or longer. Although neither of his kicks were the difference in Bucs’ 27-0 shutout win over the Falcons, Taylor’s 50-yard boot in the second quarter made both the Bucs sideline and the crowd at Raymond James Stadium absolutely erupt. That kick put life back into a position that was lifeless under Martin Gramatica. Taylor earned the respect of his teammates Sunday, and he showed that he has leg that’s good enough to kick in the NFL.”

Pewter Report senior writer Leo Haggerty:
“With a first-and-goal from inside the Tampa Bay 1-yard line and Atlanta getting 27 yards rushing on the three previous plays, the Falcons made a decision that would effect the outcome of the game. Instead of pounding it on the ground again, Michael Vick ran a play-action fake and tried to hit wideout Dez White coming across the formation from left to right. Derrick Brooks tipped the pass to a waiting Dwight Smith and the Bucs turned the gift interception into three points. That was a 10-point swing.”

“The report of the demise of the Tampa Bay defense has been grossly exaggerated. In the last three games, since giving up 24 points in the loss to the Falcons in the Georgia Dome, the Bucs defense has been just short of spectacular. They held the San Francisco 49ers to a measly field goal at home and the Carolina Panthers to two touchdowns in Charlotte. The Bucs shut out Michael Vick and the Falcons causing five turnovers in the process. The Buccaneers defense is back and the splash plays are returning as well.”

“Michael Pittman continues to be the guy when it comes to running the football at home. The seven-year pro may be having his best season when it comes to playing at home especially when it comes to touchdowns. All seven of his rushing scores have come at the friendly confines of Raymond James Stadium. For whatever reason, there’s no place like home for No. 32.”

“There are two statistics that generally determine the outcome of a professional football game – turnovers and scoring first. Everyone knows about turnovers, but for the last 10 years, the team that scores any type of points first wins 67 percent of the time in the National Football League. The Bucs came out on the top side on both counts scoring first and winning the turnover battle five to one.”

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