Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
From the second quarter on, there wasn’t a whole lot to complain about in terms of the Bucs offensive performance in Atlanta Sunday. With 371 total yards, including 20 completions on the last 26 attempts through the air, it resembled the best version of a Dirk Koetter-guided unit. The aggressive offense was firing on all cylinders.
But three plays, all TDs, stand out above the rest – Charles Sims’ nifty effort on a 23-yard check down before half, Austin Seferian-Jenkins diving 30-yard grab to open the third quarter and Mike Evans’ deep-ball adjustment on Tampa Bay’s ensuing possession.
The first one to Sims, capping off a two-minute drill before half, gave the Bucs a 17-13 lead and shifted momentum in their favor heading into the tunnel.
Bucs RB Charles Sims – Photo by: Getty Images
“That’s that’s a big booster because (the Falcons) only had the opportunity to get two scores (down) right then, and that’s how we kind of took the game away,” said Jameis Winston, referring to the Bucs getting the ball back to start the third quarter.
“Coach Koetter, back to him, you know he’s always preaching that two-minute offense. We played all the phases of football, and they were very good. We had a very good full minute at the end of the game. We had a great two-minute topped off by Charles. We just played good football.”
Not only was it during the oft-emphasized two-minute offense, Koetter would note, but it also came off a check down pass. Which was a prevalent play during training camp and the preseason.
“We talked about check downs all week. Atlanta is a zone-based defense, they take deep drops, they try to force you to check the ball down,” Koetter said. “We were preaching to Jameis Winston, ‘Check it down. Check it down.’ And he did it and what a run by Chuck.
“Charles must have broken four tackles,” Koetter continued on Sims. “We were inching our way down the field on that drive. It was reminiscent of our game here last year. We kind of got the momentum in the second quarter.”
That momentum carried into the third quarter. After passes of 15 and 27 yards to Mike Evans on the first possession, Winston, staying aggressive, took a shot downfield to his 6-foot-6 tight end and it paid off.
Seferian-Jenkins came down with his only reception of the afternoon, but it was a good one.
“The one to Austin is a play we tried on them last year and we didn’t get it,” Koetter said. “We studied film in the offseason and said, ‘Hey we can get this?’ And beautiful throw and a heck of a catch, it was not an easy catch.”
“You know, when you got a guy like 87, who can run the way that he can run and as big as he is, you just want to give him a chance to get the football,” Winston said. “That’s what we were expecting from him all the time. That’s the type of guy he is. He’s a superstar. Coach Koetter, he always comes up with these great plays that always seem to work. That’s why I never argue with that guy.”
Echoing Winston, Seferian-Jenkins said it was a route they had practiced all week. When the moment came to call it, he said, they trusted that they could connect on a big play.
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter and CB Brent Grimes – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“Jameis said that he would throw it up to me and told me to just run as fast as I can,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “I just ran and he threw it out there and I laid out for it and made the play.”
Before the third quarter was finished, Winston stepped into a throw from midfield and dropped a dime over two defenders to Evans. For as great as the throw was, the catch was even better.
“That’s just Mike being Mike,” Winston said. “I tell you guys all the time that guy’s a superstar. He’s striking fear in those DB’s hearts. Early on in the game, we weren’t really targeting him as much. But you know, Mike is a selfless individual. He stayed chopping, and he got his.”
The three plays that highlighted the overall performance in Sunday’s 31-24 win came on consecutive drives over two quarters. It’s that kind of rhythm and momentum Tampa Bay’s offense is capable of generating that makes this a promising team.
After a slow start in a tough environment on the road, Winston and his arsenal of weapons, behind an impressive offensive line, kept composure and turned in a Week 1 effort to remember.
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
I agree that those three drives were a clear show of the momentum and rhythm the team had finally put together in the game. My concern is that we then switched the plan and became the Greg SchiaNo Bucs again trying to run out a quarter+ of football. It worked…but JUST worked. I feel like we have a long history of abandoning our game plan in favor of running out the clock too quickly…I think we need to find a happy medium where we carry the momentum a little longer as we gradually shift to clock management…I don’t want to see Brees mounting 4th quarter comebacks on us any more… GO BUCS!
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