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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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