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Bucs Nation Roundtable: What Happened In Atlanta?

The staff discusses Sunday’s loss to the Falcons

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Chandler Catanzaro’s missed PAT put the Bucs in an early hole.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ladies and gentleman, it’s time for a good old-fashioned debate!

After losing to the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are now 2-3 on the season. They’ve lost three straight after starting 2-0.

The 34-29 loss to the Falcons was the culmination of bad defense, a missed kick, and a turnover in the Falcons’ end zone that left at least three points off the board.

But which play hurt Tampa Bay the most? At Bucs Nation, there is quite a bit of discussion regarding the point of no return for the Bucs, so we figured we’d let everyone into our minds for a quick peek.

Tread carefully.

There were several key plays in Sunday’s game that hurt Tampa Bay. Which one did the most damage and why?

Evan: For me, it was the third quarter interception in the end zone. The Bucs were able to stop the Falcons and get the ball right back after halftime.

Winston found Adam Humphries over the middle and from there it was a footrace to the end zone. Hump couldn’t outrun Damontae Kazee, however, and was tackled at the Falcons’ 2.

As soon as he went out of bounds, a feeling of dread just came over me. There had been so many instances watching this team - both in the past and recently - where the Bucs don’t score a touchdown in this scenario.

Well, they couldn’t even score a field goal as Winston stared down Chris Godwin and made a poor throw into the back of the end zone. It was tipped in the air and subsequently picked off by Brian Poole for a touchback.

The Bucs were down 24-13 at this point. Forget about the touchdown. If they get three points here and the rest of the game plays out like it did then that puts Tampa Bay at 25-24 after Godwin’s touchdown.

Whether or not they go for the two point conversion is a whole different hypothetical conversation and forget about the missed PAT at the beginning of the game.The bottom line here is simple: they don’t turn the ball over, they have a 25-24 lead instead of a 24-22 deficit in which they are attempting to convert a two-point conversion to tie the game.

Jon: Was the interception costly? Yes. But it wasn’t why they lost the game.

Chandler Catanzaro’s missed XP was more costly - it changed entire complexion of game. Winston’s interception - while it wasn’t a great throw - it involved a ton of bad luck on the bounce. That’s not in anyone’s control.

If Catanzaro doesn’t miss, they never have to go for the two-point conversion. Winston would’ve had the Bucs in field goal range to tie the game at the end, even with his mistakes.

Evan: But just to stay in this line of thinking, how confident are you in Catanzaro’s ability to hit a game-clinching field goal? He’s missed multiple PATs so far this season and missed a field goal attempt that would’ve sealed the deal in New Orleans.

Instead, he missed and the Saints had one more shot to come back. It was anything but a guarantee that Cat makes the game-tying field goal if he were called upon.

Gil: I get that the interception hurt. Hell, I think the one in the second quarter was far worse because the Bucs could have either scored or kept the drive alive a bit more and perhaps prevent a score from Atlanta just before the half. But, it wasn’t the interceptions that were the problem. It was the inept Tampa Bay defense that seems to put pressure on an offense to put up at least 50 points per week to guarantee a victory.

The Buccaneers defense is on track to set (negative) records by season’s end while the offense is on pace to set (positive) records themselves. Just like they did against the Steelers, the offense has the ability to overcome mistakes. But they can’t overcome the miscues from their teammates on the other side of the ball.

Frustration is starting to mount for some. We saw proven winners like Jason Pierre-Paul on the sidelines frustrated often. In the first half alone, I witnessed Pierre-Paul away from the field on the bench trying to hype up the defense. He also got into it with DL coach Brentson Buckner and they exchanged techniques. But in the second half, we witnessed linebacker Kwon Alexander and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy dancing and smiling on the sidelines down eight points. Hall of Famer Warren Sapp even took offense to that.

But now with defensive coordinator Mike Smith gone, this merely validates the real issue for the Buccaneers’ struggles. And it wasn’t only in Atlanta, it’s been all season.

Evan: I agree with both points, but in the big picture, the Bucs had a chance to overcome both the defense and the missed PAT - but the interception prevented that from happening.

Regardless, when you make these types of mistakes in one game, you’re bound to lose.

Jon: That’s 100% true. However, it was Winston’s first red zone interceptions since his rookie season, and the Bucs have the worst defense in NFL history. It mathematically doesn’t matter who is under center, because they have to be perfect just to have a chance to win. And not just 250 yards and two touchdowns perfect, we’re talking 400 yards and five or six touchdowns and no turnovers perfect. It took a once-every-50-years type game from Fitzpatrick just to beat the Saints. This team could easily should be 1-4, despite having one of the best offenses ever.

The only things that matter when it comes to how many points a defense gives up is how good or bad they are and field position. The interception on Winston’s deep throw was easily his worst throw of the game, but it put Atlanta on their own 1-yard line. The defense got a stop, and the offense scored off of the ensuing short field. So only one of his two picks actually hurt the team. But when the defense is this bad, nothing else matters.

He can’t hurt the team more than the defense has. But I agree he is not good enough to overcome them and his own mistakes.


What was the biggest miscue of the game?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Missed PAT
    (31 votes)
  • 0%
    First INT to DeSean Jackson
    (1 vote)
  • 15%
    Second INT to Chris Godwin in end zone
    (50 votes)
  • 74%
    Bad Defense
    (234 votes)
316 votes total Vote Now