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Bend but don't break defense worked -- two weeks ago

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A dominant performance or a still evolving one from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense? The end results say dominant, but a closer look says the defense buckled down when it counted most despite letting the opposing offense get into the Red Zone four times.

Tampa Bay's Basic stats before the game

Defensive Passing:  14th (241 yards/game)

Defensive Rushing:  12th (97 yards/game)

Points Against:  25th (25.3 ppg)

Atlanta's Basic stats before the game

Offensive Passing:  5th (280 yards/game)

Offensive Rushing:  15th (112 yards/game)

Points For:  14th (23.6 ppg)

Here is what transpired in the game for the defense:

Atl Offense vs TB Defense
Atl Tampa Bay TB - Opp Differential Differential %
Offense Defense
Pre-Game Stat Game Stat
Passing yds 280 255 -25 91.1%
Rushing yds 112 64 -48 57.1%
Points 23.6 19.0 -4.6 80.5%

The Bucs' defense made Atlanta underperform from its seasonal average. To reveal how dominant the Bucs' rush defense is, last week the Falcons rushed for 116 yards without RB Devonta Freeman. Making a return to the negative side is our pass defense and that is always a good barometer of good defensive play.

TB Defense vs Atl Offense
Qtr Drive Plays Yards Result RZ Pts 40 + yard Drives 50 + yard Drives 60 + yard Drives 70 + Yard Drives 80 + Yard Drives Totals
1 1 7 24 Punt 0
2 16 70 FG 1 3 1 1
2 3 10 63 FG 3 1 1
4 6 17 FG 1 3 0
Half Half
3 5 11 63 FG 1 3 1 1
6 3 -10 Punt 0
7 3 2 Punt 0
4 8 8 55 TD 1 7 1 1
9 5 15 Punt 0
10 1 0 INT 0
Total 13 70 299 4 19 0 1 2 1 0 4

With the drive chart denoted above and with the exception of Atlanta's last offensive drive, this defense looks eerily like the Jacksonville game. The defense either stopped them in their tracks or the team scored on all of the other possessions it had. There is a huge difference, though, which is the defense allowed mostly field goals as opposed to touchdowns. Atlanta's offense failed three times in the Red Zone to score a touchdown. Thus, Atlanta left 12 points off of the score board, which could have won them the game.

Game 5 Drive Analysis vs Jacksonville

This feast or famine defense is very helter skelter. Eventually, the Falcons figured out to score a touchdown. Still, the defense did its job as it held the Falcons to only 19 points as well as sealed the win with a LB David interception.

Again, although the defense put up great defensive numbers, the fact that the Falcons gained entry into the Red Zone four times should give us fans pause. Three plays could have turned 12 points into 21 points. That is the thin line that the Bucs' defense is walking upon. And with rookie MLB Kwon Alexander out for the remainder of the season, the chemistry of the defense may also change.