The Buccaneers gave fans a reason to smile ear to ear when all was said and done in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon. After about as bad a start as it gets in the early goings, both sides of the ball put together impressive performances the rest of the way thru. Let’s get into some reactions.
The offense was balanced.
Jameis Winston had an ugly start with some help from an awkward route from Mike Evans as the first pass of the game went for an interception. Evans definitely broke his route off early, but regardless it was a poorly thrown ball to a receiver with two defenders in the area on a stare down. Winston would turn the ball over again with an interception not too much later as he threw a poor pass behind the back that was tipped as Dare attempted to make the adjustment to get the catch. It just wasn’t pretty. After those two mistakes tho, Jameis cranked it up a notch. In between the two interceptions was an immaculate pass and catch from Jameis to Chris Godwin that went for 71 yards that was capped off with an extra point from Matt Gay. Beyond that, Jameis was making all the right decisions playing behind a line that kept him clean for once. It was a pleasant surprise seeing Jameis have time to make things happen. In the end, Jameis eclipsed 300 yards passing and 3 touchdowns on the day while taking zero sacks.
Running backs were back in action and being utilized in this one as they combined for 25 carries (Jameis added another 8). Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber split the lions share of the carries 12:11 with Jones having far greater success overall, finishing with 52 yards and a touchdown to Barbers 32. Jones also added 3 receptions for 18 yards. From afar, the offensive line appeared to clear some room and Jones did a good job getting up-field. The touchdown run was a thing of beauty as it wasn’t just his explosive open field running on display, it was some real power and determination to get into the end zone.
Chris Godwin had an unreal day adding to a stellar season overall. His day was highlighted with an early 71 yard touchdown reception. Mike Evans had a rough outing but it was all blue as he did eclipse the 1,000 yard mark tying him with Randy Moss as the only other receiver to start a career with 6 straight seasons of the kind. Speaking of receivers, Vita Vea got into the action in this match up catching a goal line touchdown of his own.
The offensive line did their thing in this one for the most part, keeping Jameis Winston clean and opening up some holes. If the line could give this type of effort on a weekly basis then this offense could really explode. It was a good showing for sure.
Defense came thru.
Up front, the defense got after it. Suh and Vita Vea did an incredible job causing chaos up the middle and Shaq Barrett along with Jason Pierre-Paul got into the mix off the edge with each getting a sack and causing a fumble. Vea added a sack as did Carl Nassib. The front did it’s job and some in this one with help from, wait for it, the defensive backs.
Lavonte David did his usual work in this matchup and Devin White had himself a great ball game as well. White added 2 sacks and really seems to be coming into his own the last couple of weeks.
In the backfield is where things really heated up as Jamel Dean continued to dominate with several more passes defensed and Carlton Davis notched his first interception. The group looked like they really knew what they were doing which is a complete breath of fresh air. More games like this should lead to some real confidence and potentially some relief to the fans who are ready to dump the entire unit most weeks. Good work defense.
Matt Gay struggled mightily.
The kicking game started fine and honestly has been a bright spot since early season woes. Well, it was an ugly one in Atlanta. Gay had two extra points missed and had a 3rd blocked in what wasn’t a good showing.
This was the team most fans expected to see show up, albeit much sooner than week 11 games into the season. This game needs to be a building block to help instill some confidence not only for the fans, but for the players themselves. Another week of good practice and some confidence after beating Atlanta is just what the doctor ordered.