It was the the of two halves with the Buccaneers looking absolutely dreadful for the first 30 minutes, and then unstoppable in the final 30. Tampa Bay came back to win their ninth game of the season, beating the Falcons by a score of 31-27 and are getting closer to securing their first playoff berth since 2007.

Here is the list of the most impressive Buccaneers on the afternoon.

MLB Devin White
White has been vilified the last few weeks by some fans and some in the media for his lackluster coverage skills and a lack of big plays. On Sunday there was little to complain about in his game, as the Bucs middle linebacker had three QB takedowns and finished the game with 12 tackles, four tackles for loss and two pass breakups. White took it upon himself to set the tone in the second half, and it worked as the Bucs defense surrendered just 10 points after halftime.

QB Tom Brady
Brady wasn’t very sharp early and dealt with a lot of pressure that forced some errant throws, causing the offense to bog down and only gain 60 total yards through two quarters. But the six-time Super Bowl champion played like the star he is beginning on the Bucs first drive in the second half, and was nearly flawless the rest of the game after the slow start. Brady ended the afternoon with 390 yards on 31-of-45 passing with two touchdowns.

WR Mike Evans
It’s been a while since Bucs receiver Mike Evans had a 100-yard receiving game, but when the offense needed him to step up the most the Pro Bowler delivered with 110 yards on six receptions. Following the game Falcons head coach Raheem Morris said the Bucs second half turnaround started with Evans.

“Mike made a couple big plays down the stretch,” Morris said. “Antonio [Brown] had the big one we saw at the end. Mike Evans really got going, got his thing going, able to have a good connection with Tom [Brady], whether third down or first or second. He got some things going and it was really good. Tom did a nice job with his eyes, zone coverage, moving us. He was able to get some completions there, as well.”

Don’t look now, but Evans can keep his 1,000-yard season streak alive if he averages 110 yards over the next two games.

S Antoine Winfield Jr.
Winfield was coming off arguably his best day as a pro in last week’s game against the Vikings, and while he didn’t have the eye-popping stats he did a week ago, he made what might have been the best defensive play of the afternoon breaking up a sure touchdown pass with incredible recovery speed. Winfield finished with just two tackles, but his one pass breakup might have saved the day for Tampa Bay.

WR Antonio Brown
We’ve all been waiting to see Brown’s dynamic playmaking ability since he joined the Buccaneers midseason. On Sunday it all came together, after some flashes here and there in previous games. Brown scored his first touchdown of the year on a perfectly thrown deep ball from Brady for a 46-yard second half TD to put the Buccaneers ahead for the first time all afternoon. Brown tied Evans for the team lead in receptions for six and ended the day with 98 yards.

Honorable Mentions: P Bradley Pinion, RB Leonard Fournette, CB Carlton Davis

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About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at mark@pewterreport.com
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EastEndBoy
6 months ago

White continues to be fantastic within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage…and despite his (first 2?) pass breakups (of the year), continues to allow a number of catches to be made by his men. Just keep sending him on the blitz.

Last edited 6 months ago by EastEndBoy
JohnGaltsGhost
Reply to  EastEndBoy
6 months ago

White isn’t the problem, the way the staff is using him is. He’s great blitzing and he is great against the Run, he is not good dropping back in coverage. So play to his strengths and avoid his weakness.

PissedOffBuc1988
Reply to  JohnGaltsGhost
6 months ago

I agree. He’s the best blitzing MLB in football. Let him go.

drdneast
6 months ago

White took over the fourth quarter on defense today and actually his pass coverage was much better in this game which is why he was able to deflect two passes.

PewterHeart
6 months ago

Fournette was running and catching in the second half, a performance deserving more than just an honorable mention.

RW
RW
Reply to  PewterHeart
6 months ago

He stunk in the 1st half.

The Wall
Reply to  RW
6 months ago

True, but everybody stunk in the first half.

RW
RW
Reply to  The Wall
6 months ago

Fournette, Vaughn and most of the Oline were the real stinkers. Brady and the pass catchers were OK.

The Wall
Reply to  PewterHeart
6 months ago

True, but everybody stunk in the first half.

creamsicles
6 months ago

Get Mike over 1,000!!! He deserves the record for consecutive seasons.

bucballer
Reply to  creamsicles
6 months ago

Yes! It’s crucial. Mike needs to average 110 a game to get receiving record. If he gets the record that means he was balling out and when that happens, usually that means good things for Buc offense. Get Mike involved early and often and Bucs will run the table!

Dave
Reply to  bucballer
6 months ago

He’ll get it. Between the Lions putrid defense, and the Falcons at home, I think he’ll do it. Next week, he’ll go off for 125. Which means he’ll need just 95 yards week 17 in the Falcons rematch. And as long as it won’t affect us winning, or our playoff chances, Brady will force it to Evans to make sure he gets the record

Last edited 6 months ago by Dave
JSW
JSW
Reply to  Dave
6 months ago

Normally, I don’t think it’s a good idea to force it to any receiver, but I think Evans, and maybe Hopkins, would be the only exceptions to that. Both are so big, so strong, such strong hands, and such a WILL to come down with the ball that you can get away with it. I think Brady would be pleasantly surprised if he took a few more chances whistling them in high and hot to M1k3!!! If he could make Winston and Johnny Football look good, he should be able to make the GOAT look LEGEND!

Last edited 6 months ago by JSW
Dave
Reply to  JSW
6 months ago

Hard to argue with ya. I agree. Evans is a different breed

Eddie
Reply to  creamsicles
6 months ago

Now, the defensive coordinator of following weeks opponent know this too and will be ready for him.

RW
RW
6 months ago

Mark go watch the game tape. Brady (other than 1 slightly off target pass to Godwin) was not the problem in the 1st half. The running backs and the Oline( Jensen in particular) were awful.
In the 2nd half they improved their pass blocking and gave up running the ball on 1st down then the Offense started humming.

Horse
6 months ago

I guess I was watching a different game than Mark? White showed today that he cannot cover passes in his area if he has to drop back. I’m sure he can get better in the off-season and work on his past coverage, but right now he’s vulnerable in his middle of his territory if he has to retreat back and cover any receiver. I agree with other posters that we should play to his strengths not to his weaknesses. This soft pass coverage scheme isn’t the answer.

BigSombrero
6 months ago

It was a good recovery by Winfield after letting Ridley get by him, but I wouldn’t bank on that happening week in/week out. He also gave up a bunch of big plays in the first half. I thought Whitehead outplayed Winfield by a wide margin.

RW
RW
Reply to  BigSombrero
6 months ago

Hey Sombrero , no comment on Brady this week?

compewterpirate
6 months ago

Having called out Byron Leftwich, on the most disappointing list, numerous times this season, I am going to give credit where credit is due and an honorable mention. After an admittedly abject first half, his half time adjustments and second half play calling were the best we have seen all year. He actually called a number of excellent and inventive play action plays that really put TB12 in positions to succeed. Quick slants, wheel routes, culminating in the go route to AB that was the go-ahead score. Credit also to the ‘O’ line in that second half for giving TB… Read more »

mbrown758
6 months ago

Somebody said that they moved Winfield to corner in the second half and Whitehead to safety when Davis got hurt. Can someone verify that? Bunting is really struggling right now.

scubog
Reply to  mbrown758
6 months ago

Whitehead always plays safety. Ross Cockrell replaced Carlton Davis at CB.

scubog
6 months ago

I’ll give a bit of a hat-tip to OT Josh Wells. He played better in this game than he had in the past. O-line in general pass protected very well.

RW
RW
Reply to  scubog
6 months ago

The Oline was not good in the first half.

Dave
6 months ago

For everyone that wants to constantly get on Brady and blame him, he has dug this team out of holes and masked bad defensive play for the entire second half of the season. Granted, you can’t cherry pick stats, or take away games. But if you remove the second Saints game(5th ranked pass defense), and the Rams game(#1 ranked pass defense), Brady has the following on pace numbers: 67% completion percentage, 4615 yds 44 total TD’s vs 9 total TO’s, 7.6 YPA, a 105 QB Rating, and 20 sacks. And probably in the top 3 in MVP voting. His 2… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Dave
BucHarbour
Reply to  Dave
6 months ago

Haven’t you heard? He’s too old and a shell of his former self. </sarc>
He’s a massive improvement in key areas over Winston. If he keeps his body in shape through next year, and doesn’t lose any significant arm strength, I think he’s going to be a force next year in this offense.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  Dave
6 months ago

Hate to be this guy again, but no way Jameis digs those tough wins out. All the way back to the 17 point lead playing the Chargers.

Dave
Reply to  eaustinyoung
6 months ago

Oh not a shot in hell. The second this game became 17-0, that would have been it. You would have seen them junk the run, and Jameis would have started forcing it to Evans and Godwin on every play. This would have been a classic 375 yds 3 TD 3 int game that they lost 33-24. Even if Brady has bad halves, or the defense stinks so he’s forced to chase the game, he doesn’t turn into Jameis. If the comeback comes up short, or the drives stall, it usually ends in a punt. Not a backbreaking pick that results… Read more »

matador
Reply to  Dave
6 months ago

It’s ironic Bucs fans of all people are nitpicking the times when his throws are a little off target. He’s the real deal. Get him a better OL and run game and then, even if JL & BA’S zillion DB strategy fails (as it has so far) he’ll keep us in games by scoring 30+ every time, if not 40

Dave
Reply to  matador
6 months ago

Seriously dude. If I had a nickel for every post I’ve read this season on PR that had someone saying “and Brady missed on a bunch of deep balls”, or “Brady missed a bunch of easy throws”, I’d be rich. Meanwhile you look at the box score and he completed 65-70% of his passes for 300+ with 2 or 3 TD’s and 0 TO’s lol. I’ve seen more complaining about Brady this year, than I ever did last year, when our QB threw 30 picks, 7 pick sixes, and led this EXACT same team to a 7-9 record. Good god.… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Dave
surferdudes
6 months ago

White could be an average cover LB, or if used right could lead the league in sacks. I’d bring in an extra DB on passing downs, rush three down linemen, and tell White, get to the QB the best way you think you can get to him. Whether that’s rushing from either end, or better shooting an open gap to the QB. That would also make it harder for scrambling QB’s to get easy runs on us. White was used properly in the 4th QT. Imagine if he was allowed to do that all game.

PissedOffBuc1988
6 months ago

It looks like a switch was flipped for the defense. That switch got flipped when winfield jr made that superd pass break up in the back corner of the end zone. After that, the defense got hot. Devin White finally got used the way that he should and just allowed to rush the qb. And don’t look now, but white has 130 tackles with 8 sacks. If they continue to blitz him and let him play at the los then I can easily see white finish with 150 tackles and over 10 sacks. That’s legit. I got whites jersey a… Read more »

fredster
Reply to  PissedOffBuc1988
6 months ago

I have White Jersey too. If he had this pre season I’m sure his pass coverage would have improved. He will be fine with little more time. Can’t teach speed and power and he has both.

fredster
6 months ago

This team is bipolar. Lol. That was one of the most pathetic first half’s I’ve seen from them in a while. Then they play really good second half. Crazy. When they use White to blitz it works. So what do they do in first half. Drop him in Coverage and lots zone. Second half they blitz and play more man and it works. They can’t get there with 4 guys. Bunting continues to play like garbage most of game. Winfield and Davis are great. Rest of secondary better step up or Bucs are 1 and done.

Eddie
Reply to  fredster
6 months ago

Bunting is just so slow yesterday. Slow with turn the hip to match the receiver, slow to recover. Maybe thats why coaches set him back 10, 15 yard off line from the receiver. But then give up tons of first down passes in front of him

eaustinyoung
6 months ago

I still stand by my statement last year that the Bucs should’ve made a trade for Pat Peterson or even signed Earl Thomas to a cheap deal. Having a proven vet in the backfield to teach the young guns some tricks is a huge move.

chuckbville
6 months ago

Godwin’s blocks contributed to most of the offensive gains but is mostly overlooked.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  chuckbville
6 months ago

He’s quietly one of the best blocking WRs in the league.

Eddie
Reply to  eaustinyoung
6 months ago

With a just healed broken finger no less

RW
RW
Reply to  chuckbville
6 months ago

Godwin is a complete player, Great team guy.

Dave
Reply to  RW
6 months ago

He is. He’s as complete a WR as there is in the league. Elite hands, elite defense reading instints, elite route runner, above average speed, above average blocker. We absolutely need to resign him. Maybe the injuries, which In turn has effected his production, along with covid, may drive down his price just enough that he may be willing to take a team friendly deal. I’m as big a Godwin fan as there is. I think he’s easily a top 10 WR in the league

matador
Reply to  Dave
6 months ago

I agree with you both but would like to see AB contribute more consistently. Evans has disappeared for chunks of this season but if you had Godwin + AB + Miller and then have Evans + Gronk each chipping in a couple of big plays a game, opposing defenses would have no answers for that… other than to blitz our OL which unfortunately might work

Willie Brown
6 months ago

On 3rd and long they should consider swapping mike edwards for devin white. He will be a big upgrade on a known passing down (assuming your not blitzing that 3rd and long, otherwise send white up the A gap.)