The Bucs started out this game with the an abysmal performance, trailing 17-0 after the fist half. But as bad as they were in the first half, they showed why they’re one of the most talented teams in football with a great second half, firing off 31 points. While not as big of a stage as the Super Bowl, it was another lead that the Falcons blew to Tom Brady, as the Bucs came from behind to win 31-24.
These were the most disappointing players from the game.
CB Sean Murphy-Bunting
Murphy-Bunting was picked on all afternoon by the Falcons’ offense and routinely beaten in coverage. Whether it was guarding Calvin Ridley or Russell Gage Jr., Murphy-Bunting struggled to keep up with them. He allowed a touchdown in the first half by Ridley, and he would have allowed another score in the half had Carlton Davis III not made a play on the ball to break it up. He finished the game with five tackles.
OLB Jason Pierre-Paul
All the talk this week was how Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul are heating up at the right time as the Bucs make their playoff push. But on Sunday, Pierre-Paul was nowhere to be found. I’ll save you the time if you wanted to look up what he did in the box score because he wasn’t in it at all. He didn’t have any tackles in the game or even record a quarterback pressure. It was an uncharacteristic game for Pierre-Paul, as they’ll need better play from him down the stretch.
Bucs’ Four-Man Pass Rush
While Pierre-Paul was just singled out, the pass rush by the entire defensive line did a poor job getting to Matt Ryan. He had all day to throw when the Bucs were sending just a four-man rush. In fact, Shaq Barrett was the only one to record a quarterback hit from the defensive line. The Bucs recorded three sacks, but they all came from Devin White on the blitz. They’ll need to continue dialing up extra pressure if they can’t get home up front.
C Ryan Jensen
Much like the Bucs’ slow start, Jensen struggled early in what was a lethargic first half for Tampa Bay overall. He was getting beat, which was causing a lot of pressure in the face of Tom Brady. It didn’t help the run game either, which produced just 53 yards for an average of 2.8 yards per carry in the game. Like the rest of the offense, Jensen played better after halftime.
RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn For weeks people have been clamoring for Vaughn to get more playing time as the Bucs figure out their third down back role. When he finally got his chance, Vaughn didn’t deliver. He dropped a pass on his first snap of the game, his fourth drop in eight targets this season. Then he was given an opportunity on a draw play where the line opened up a hole for him, but he tripped over himself for just a one-yard gain.