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Bucs comeback comes up short in loss to Falcons

Wayne Masut | Senior Staff Photographer

In a must win game for both teams, Jameis Winston who is starting for the first time this season, faces Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons who have been putting up points, but can’t stop team from putting up as many points. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans knew they would be without their franchise quarterback long before the season started. They knew they would be depending on incumbent starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. Their only hope was Fitzpatrick could win at least two or three games, and that he did, although their defense potentially cost them the other two games. Tampa had a chance to win the Monday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they never stood a chance against the Chicago Bears.

Coming out firing those cannons

In his first starting action of the 2018 season, Jameis Winston started with a few shorts passes to get into a groove. With both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons being bad defenses right now, Winston carved up the Falcons before a touchdown throw to Cameron Brate.  On his first pass of the game Winston found second year pro Chris Godwin for 10 yards. He would connect with the young wide receiver one more time for 14 yards.

Bucs running back Peyton Barber was able to find a nice hole on the right side of the line to collect possibly his best run of the season so far (26 yards). After a bad throw to DeSean Jackson, Jameis connected with Brate for a 15 yard TD pass. Jameis would end the drive 4 for 5 for 44 yards and a TD, while Barber went 31 yards on three carries.

Mike Smith strikes again…

Clearly this is a defensive system with quite a bit of talent, but it doesn’t seem defensive coordinator Mike Smith knows what to do with it. Through one quarter of action Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan went 11-11 with one TD and 125 yards. Clearly Smith has either lost the ability to be a defensive play caller, or lost his defensive players completely. One would’ve thought with a bye week in-between the Bears game and today, he would have made adjustments or played like his livelihood is on the line. Through four games and one quarter, Mike Smith’s defense has allowed opposing QB’s a 77.1% completion rating and a QB rating of 130.5. To put those into perspective, the NFL records are 72.6% and 116.2.  His defense has gotten progressively worse year after year with the Bucs.

In 2016 they averaged 23.1 points per game, 367.9 yards per game and were ranked 23rd

In 2017 23.9 points per game, 378.1 yards per game… they were ranked LAST

This season…. 34.8 points per game, 445.8 yards per game…. their rank so far… 31st

The Glazers have never fired a Head Coach or coordinator during the season, but this is almost the same issue that cost Tony Dungy his job. Dirk Koetter may want to really reconsider is his loyalty to his friend, or does he want to stay employed in the NFL?

Good, Bad and Semi-Ugly

Towards the end of the half, Winston aired the ball deep for Jackson, however the ball went right into the hands Damontae Kazee who intercepted it. After a referee review of where the ball was to be placed, it was determined Kazee was down at the one yard line. Tampa’s defense was able to hold Ryan and the Falcon offense to a punt. With great field position to start their next drive, Winston and the Bucs offense was able to get some momentum. The drive would culminate with a touchdown pass from Winston to Howard. The Bucs tight end was expected to miss more time with an injury, but obviously was active versus the Falcons. Atlanta still led 21-13 heading into halftime.

Winston would once again lead the team down the field after halftime, the result after a long Adam Humphries reception was the same. With the Bucs in the redzone, a route miscommunication would result in Winston’s second interception of the game. Since the second quarter began, the Bucs defense has been a bit better. Following a field goal to end the half, and put them up 24-13 the Falcons weren’t able to find the end zone in the 3rd quarter. Bucs kicker Chandler Catanzaro got the Bucs within a score with a 35 yard FG.

You down with JPP?

When the Bucs acquired Jason Pierre-Paul in the offseason from the New York Giants, Tampa fans had reason to be hopeful. Since he has arrived JPP has been as advertised for the team. So far he has five sacks this season, and he has four straight games with at least one sack. Bucs fans have not seen that since Simeon Rice played for the team. While the defense struggles, the team has one bright spot as of now. His sack today gave him 63.5 for his career.

Jameis has his moments

While Jameis is pegged as the “Franchise” quarterback for the Bucs, one stat shows him in a great light while another, not so much. Today he threw for over 300, that’s his 12th career game going for at least 300 yards. Currently he is tied for most in franchise history with Vinny Testaverde. The other stat, is not such a good one for Winston. Since 2015 he has the second most giveaways in the NFL. Heading into the game he trailed Eli Manning by one, but by the end of the game he had passed Manning by one. Winston is still six behind Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles.

Comeback almost happens

While he and the Bucs battled back and nearly completed the comeback, but Matt Bryant and a 58 yard FG sealed the game for the Falcons 34-29. In the final seconds Jameis rushed up the middle, tossed the ball to Humphries who couldn’t really corral the toss. Mike Evans got his hands on it and tossed it over to Jackson, but the ball slipped right between his legs and out of bounds as the clocked hit zero.

Up Next:

The Cleveland Browns will invade Raymond James Stadium 10/21 for a 1pm start.



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