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Buccaneers Week 13 Top Performers: Gronk, Godwin sweep away Falcons for key win

The Buccaneers swept the Falcons for the second year in a row to take a commanding NFC South lead.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

While it remained closer than it should’ve been for a decent stretch, the Buccaneers handled the Atlanta Falcons relatively easily in a 30-17 victory Sunday.

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.

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.

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.