Well, what a nice turn of events that was. The Buccaneers went into Atlanta to face off against two former coaches - Dirk Koetter and Raheem Morris - and they walked out with a 35-22 win over their division rivals.
This game had a little bit of everything - good and bad - but in the end it might have been the best all around performance by the team as a whole.
Let’s dig in to a Pick Six feast!
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) Chris Godwin Is A Man Amongst Boys. Chris Godwin is starting to prove that he’s not only a number one receiver in the NFL, but he may just be the number one receiver on this team. Nothing against Evans but for every inexcusable drop Evans has, Godwin has a jaw-dropping reception. He finished the day as the top receiver, hauling in seven receptions on eight targets for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Comparatively, Evans had four receptions on eight targets for 50 yards. Again, this isn’t a knock on Evans. In fact, the attention Evans garners opens things up for Godwin. It does, however, raise the question as to whether or not Godwin will stay in Tampa or move on to a team where he is the unrivaled number one guy, making unrivaled number one money.
2.) Great Defensive Performance. Carlton Davis had a stellar day, shutting down Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Yes, Jones was injured during the second half, but in the first half he was perfectly fine and Davis did a great job shutting him down and even came away with his first career interception. Jamel Dean was back on the field and had a team high five passes defensed. The Bucs finished the day with six sacks - two by Devin White, one by Vita Vea, one by Shaq Barrett, one by Carl Nassib, and one by Jason Pierre-Paul which resulted in a fumble recovered by Ndamukong Suh which he returned for a touchdown. The pressure on Matt Ryan was relentless and the secondary was the beneficiary.
3.) Have A Day Vita Vea! Vea not only had a sack, but he two passes that he batted down and got himself into the end zone with a touchdown reception. Vea is asserting himself as one of the best defensive tackles in the game, quieting critics from a year ago who were unhappy with the draft pick.
4.) Not So Great For Matt Gay. Ooof. Rough day for the rookie kicker. Gay missed three extra points - one of which was blocked - but fortunately those missed kicks didn’t rear their ugly head later on in the game. He did bounce back and make a key field goal to get those points back, but this was certainly a tough game for the young kicker. No need to panic, though. Following his last game like this, Gay went on a tear making 21 consecutive kicks.
5.) A Better Day From Byron. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich called a much better game than a week ago, doing a better job of balancing the run and the pass. Though he had a questionable series in the fourth quarter where the Bucs held a twelve point lead, calling three pass plays and running only 1:38 off the clock. The Bucs would finish with 28 pass attempts compared to 26 called run plays. Much, much better.
6.) This May Seem Odd After A Win. But I’m done with Jameis Winston. Yes, he bounced back from two interceptions to have a solid game. However, my stance remains the same. The decision making, the errant passes, the idiotic turnovers - it’s never going to change. Bruce Arians isn’t going to save him. Arians, as good as he is, isn’t able to overtake Winston’s brain and force him to stop being stupid. Thankfully, the Bucs defense was able to keep the Falcons from blowing the game open early, holding them to seven points off the two first quarter picks. It’s just the same nonsense week after week. I can no longer find a way to justify bringing him back and paying him what quarterbacks make in today’s NFL. As the broadcast team said over and over again Sunday, he’s Jeckyll and Hyde. He makes some incredible plays - like threading the needle to Chris Godwin for the first touchdown - then he does something inexplicably stupid - like jumping to throw to Dare Ogunbowale, having the ball two yards behind him, and seeing it intercepted. It’s not going to change. Ever. I like Winston. I’ve liked him since he was drafted. There’s just no way this team can shell out the money for him and expect to all of a sudden make the postseason. I wish him nothing but the best and I hope - if he returns - I’m writing about how wrong I was a year from now. But I’m officially off the Winston train. If they’re shelling out big dollars for a quarterback, give me Teddy Ballgame.
Six Numbers To Consider
2 - Players in NFL history with six consecutive 1,000 yard receiving seasons - Mike Evans and Randy Moss
5 - Years since the Buccaneers had two receivers eclipse the 1,000 yard receiving mark in the same season (2014 - Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson - both crossed the mark in the final game of the season)
347 - Pounds that Vita Vea weighs, making him the heaviest player in NFL history to get a touchdown reception
441 - Days between games the Bucs gave up zero sacks, which they accomplished Sunday for the first time since week one last season
2004 - The year the last time a Bucs player had two fumble recoveries returned for touchdowns in a season until Suh did it Sunday (Ronde Barber)
71 - Yards on Godwin’s first touchdown, both his and Winston’s career longs
Six Things To Be Thankful For
With Thanksgiving coming up this week, we take a look at what Bucs fans have to be thankful for.
6.) The Buccaneers got a win, so you don’t have to deal with that annoying relative that always gives you crap about being a Bucs fan.
5.) Chris Godwin. Always be thankful for Chris Godwin.
4.) That you’re not a Falcons fan.
3.) That Jalen Ramsey is no longer a Jaguar because the Bucs head to Jacksonville next and their defense is TRASH.
2.) That Ndamukong Suh has the wherewithal to not just fall on a fumble, but to scoop it and score with it - analytics be damned.
1.) That you’re healthy enough to spend time with your family and friends for the holidays. Some aren’t so lucky. Having two friends pass away within the last week, it puts all this into perspective. Be thankful for the opportunity to have another day with your loved ones, friends and family alike. You never know when it will be the last time that you’re so lucky.
Power Ranking The Important Stuff
Yeah, it’s time to power rank Thanksgiving food. I do this every year, but like my weekly rankings, it fluctuates. I have my personal favorites and I encourage you to post your rankings in the comments below.
6.) Cranberry Sauce - I freaking love this stuff. And no, I don’t mean that homemade chunky crap. No. Give me the Ocean Spray cranberry jell-o in a can. Put it on the rolls, eat it with the turkey. Cranberry sauce is amazing.
5.) Mashed Potatoes - Yes, I know this is some people’s favorite, but there’s nothing special about it. You eat mashed potatoes all year long with anything you make. It’s there because it’s a staple, but to me it’s “meh.”
4.) Stuffing - Stuffing is so freaking good. And if you’re making stuffing on Thanksgiving, you better not be mailing it in with that Stove Top stuff. You gotta go all in. Sautee the celery and onions in butter and poultry seasoning, add in those mushrooms and walnuts. If you’re feeling zany, cook off some sage sausage and mix that in too. Homemade stuffing is the ONLY way to go on Thanksgiving. I’ll save the Stove Top for the leftovers when all the elite stuff is gone.
3.) Pecan Pie - Pumpkin pie is disgusting. It takes a whole tub of Cool Whip to mask the foul taste. I get it’s some people’s favorite, but this is my ranking - not theirs. Give me the other seasonal favorite. Pecans on top of gooey melted sugar. There isn’t one ounce of nutritional value - which is exactly why I have seconds.
2.) Sweet Potato Casserole - NOW we’re talking. These are something I get once, maybe twice a year. Whipped sweet potatoes, loaded with butter and brown sugar. Top it off with a brown sugar and pecan crust? Heaven. Are you a marshmallow person? More power to ya! I won’t turn up my nose at that. Sweet potatoes are the starch MVP of Thanksgiving.
1.) Turkey - It’s turkey day. Not ham day, not prime rib day, not anything else day. TURKEY DAY. Keep the other proteins for Christmas or New Year’s. White meat, dark meat, leg, wing, whatever. Give me that sweet, sweet bird - smothered in gravy. Give me leftover turkey sliders on the leftover dinner rolls, turkey sandwiches, reheated turkey plates. All of it. Turkey is the star of the day and is forever number one in the rankings.
Six Super Bowl Bets
As always, this was compiled before the completion of the Sunday night game.
1.) New England Patriots - I’m not changing this unless something drastic happens, like Tom Brady being out for the season or Belichick being fired.
2.) New Orleans Saints - A scare at home, but they still escape with the win.
4.) Baltimore Ravens - Might be the only team that could knock the Pats out of the playoffs - but I don’t see Belichick losing to the same team twice in a season
5.) Green Bay Packers - Somehow, this team is still in the running for the top overall seed in the NFC and it makes absolutely no sense.
23.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Some will be mad they “hurt their draft position” but I’m not one to complain about wins with over a month left in the season.