During the bye week, the Buccaneers announced that Jameis Winston will start at quarterback when the team returns to action in week six. Tampa Bay will be in Atlanta on Sunday looking to get back in the win column against the struggling Falcons.
Ryan Fitzpatrick took the league by storm in the first two or three weeks of this season before the Bucs as a whole collapsed against the Bears in week four. At halftime, Winston made his return from suspension and completed 16 of his 20 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown to two interceptions. A few days later, head coach Dirk Koetter confirmed what everyone was already thinking: Winston was in and Fitzpatrick was out at the quarterback position.
There is no shortage of familiarity between Winston and Atlanta. Let’s go game-by-game to see how the No. 1 overall pick from 2015 has fared against the Falcons.
Nov. 1, 2015: Bucs 23, Falcons 20 (Overtime)
Winston’s first meeting with the Falcons went his way. His numbers weren’t all that special: 16-of-29 for 177 yards and a touchdown through the air and three rushes for 24 yards and a score on the ground. The important thing was that the rookie didn’t turn the ball over and remained composed after Tampa Bay blew a 20-3 lead. Atlanta forced overtime, but Winston led a field goal drive that lasted 7:08 to start the extra period. From there, the defense held up and Tampa Bay picked up a road victory.
Dec. 6, 2015: Bucs 23, Falcons 19
About one month after his first victory over the Falcons, “Famous Jameis” got a second one. With Atlanta visiting Raymond James Stadium, the rookie came through with some late heroics to lead Tampa Bay to a season sweep over its division rival. With the Falcons leading 19-16 late in the fourth quarter, the young rookie took his offense 80 yards in 12 plays, finishing the drive by throwing a go-ahead six-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans with 1:39 to go. Winston finished the day with 227 yards and one touchdown (to one interception) on 18-of-27 passing while also putting up an early touchdown run.
Sept. 11, 2016: Bucs 31, Falcons 24
Winston extended his (and the Bucs’) winning streak over the Falcons to three in the 2016 season opener. It was one of his biggest performances to date, silencing the Atlanta crowd with 281 yards and four touchdowns on 23-of-32 passing. He connected with Brandon Myers, Charles Sims, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Mike Evans for his four scores. Tampa Bay held a 31-13 lead by the 5:12 mark in the third quarter. Atlanta fought back into it by the end, but the Bucs held on.
Nov. 3, 2016: Falcons 43, Bucs 28
The Bucs were let down on Thursday Night Football in 2016, falling at home to the Falcons. Aside from a lost fumble, Winston put up some nice numbers. He completed 23 of his 37 attempts for 261 yards and three touchdowns. The Tampa Bay defense just couldn’t hold up. It was Winston’s first loss against Atlanta.
Dec. 18, 2017: Falcons 24, Bucs 21
The Falcons got Jameis and the Bucs again last December, beating them at Raymond James Stadium on Monday Night Football. Winston missed the earlier meeting between the two teams with an injury, but came back looking fully healthy in a close loss. Winston hit on 27 of his 35 passes for 299 yards and three scores. He connected with Adam Humphries with 4:07 left in the game to bring the Bucs within 24-21, then completed three passes on a late drive to set up a 54-yard field goal attempt. Patrick Murray missed it, leading to another Buccaneer loss instead of forcing overtime. It was the second straight loss to the Falcons for Winston, despite his strong night.
Career against the Falcons
Overall Record: 3-2
Home Record: 1-2
Road Record: 2-0
Completion Percentage: 66.9 (107-of-160)
Passing Yards: 1,245
Passing Touchdowns: 12
Rushing Attempts: 18
Rushing Yards: 71
Rushing TD: 2
Fumbles (Fumbles Lost): 2 (1)