The Buccaneers pass offense returned to its dominant ways after a one-month stretch that saw a more subdued, balanced approach. Tom Brady attempted more than 50 passes despite the team never trailing, which worked mostly well outside of a disastrous pick six at the end of the first half that narrowed Tampa’s lead to just 3.
The second half saw the defense completely clamp down on the Falcons, who failed to score and really didn’t come close at any point. Multiple defensive linemen pulled out their best games of their season against a porous Atlanta offensive line, getting through on key third downs to keep Matt Ryan and Co. out of rhythm.
Let’s hand out some shoutouts!
Offensive Top Performer: WR Chris Godwin
You could really say the whole offense here, but we’ll give it to Godwin for setting a long-standing franchise record.
Godwin absolutely bullied the Falcons secondary, hauling in 15 catches (an NFL best this season) to surpass Earnest Graham and James Wilder as the single-game record holder for the Bucs.
Not only did Chris Godwin catch 15 passes for 143 yards today, he did so on just 17 targets. That's the fewest targets for any NFL receiver in a game with 15+ catches since Michael Thomas had 16 in 17 in 2018.— Greg Auman (@gregauman) December 5, 2021
From his typical quick hitters on screens to a few longer gains, Godwin collected 143 yards total as he remains an indispensable part of the offense.
Rob Gronkowski meanwhile continued his dominant return to form by hauling in two excellent tuddies. He recorded four catches for 58 yards and had some other good looks as well. Mike Evans also got some love this week with 7 receptions for 99 yards, toasting top cornerback A.J. Terrell a handful of times.
Brady’s 368-yard, 4-touchdown showing was a nice reminder that he’s still master manipulator of defenses when everything all of the moving parts in sync. Those parts include the offensive line, which allowed no sacks and only four pressures as it completely neutralized a weak defensive front.
Tom Brady completed 16 of 22 passes for 251 yards and 3 TD when holding the ball for 2.5+ seconds.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) December 5, 2021
A key to Brady's success on these passes was a lack of pressure (4 QBP). Brady has the lowest pressure rate with 2.5+ seconds time to throw this season (26.1%).#TBvsATL | #GoBucs pic.twitter.com/ydUJQ89xVw
Defensive Top Performer: DT Vita Vea
Vita Vea is one tough SOB. We’re talking about this impossibly large human who got a tooth cracked in half last week, smiled about it, played the rest of the game with no trouble, and then followed it up with one of his best career performances this week.
Vea was a menace from start to finish, logging his first career two-sack game — each of those coming at key moments. His second tally capped a five-sack day for the defense, and only one of those came from an edge rusher (Cam Gill). Ndamukong Suh produced his best game of the year with two of those sacks.
In the secondary, Pierre Desir caused his second turnover in as many weeks by forcing a fumble, which was recovered by the returning Carlton Davis. The latter made an impact right away with that recovery and three passes defensed. It’s critical to have him back after a two-month absence due to a torn quad.