The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are out to a 2-0 start in the 2021 NFL Season thanks to a win on Sunday over the Atlanta Falcons. The final score was 48-25, but it wasn’t as clean a game as the score might indicate, although the Bucs never truly lost a grip on the win.
As we do every week. Let’s dive into some of the good and some of the bad, from this latest Bucs win.
THIRD WORST: END OF HALF EXECUTION
With 47 seconds left in the first half, the Buccaneers scored a touchdown when quarterback Tom Brady found wide receiver Mike Evans from three yards out.
The score gave Tampa Bay a 14-point lead, and even with Atlanta receiving the ball to start the second half, gave them a firm grip on the game up to that point.
In the final 40 seconds of the game, however, the Falcons were able to drive from their own 35-yard line into field goal range. Younghoe Koo booted a 36-yard field goal for the Falcons as time expired on the first half, and gave his team a smaller deficit to catch up from, and some momentum.
Granted, the drive should’ve ended with a defensive touchdown following a perfectly timed strip-sack by Bucs outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, but even with the officiating snafu, the Bucs defense could have locked down their opponent to secure the two-touchdown lead.
Instead, following the erroneous flag negating the defensive score, an unnecessary roughness penalty on Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis III and an offsides penalty on outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul only helped their opponent narrow the score before the break.
THIRD BEST: HISTORIC PACES
Tom Brady is going to go down as the greatest NFL quarterback to ever play the game whenever he decides to call it a career.
Stats, championships, the product on the field, all of it. Nobody holds a torch to what the sixth-round draft pick has been able to accomplish, and if he continues on his current pace, he’s going to reach another historic milestone in a very significant locale.
Brady already owns the career touchdown passes record. His 581 scoring tosses was ten more than former New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers quarterback Drew Brees had at the end of last season when he retired.
The nine Brady has so far this season after five more touchdown throws on Sunday bring his total to 590, just ten away from becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 600.
When might he throw the 600th touchdown pass? Interestingly enough...
Of course, this would require Brady to throw for five touchdown passes next week against the Los Angeles Rams, in SoFi Stadium nonetheless.
Don’t tell Brady he can’t do it though. Plenty have made that mistake already.
SECOND WORST: RONALD JONES II’S LACK OF USAGE
Plenty of Bucs fans want to see Jones back on the field on a consistent basis. After getting just six carries and one catch in Week 2, Jones has had more than ten touches in just two of the last six regular-season games he’s appeared in.
Obviously, this kills any fantasy football relevance he has, but more importantly, it shows a shift in splitting carries between Jones and fellow running back Leonard Fournette.
It’s seemed the Bucs coaching staff prefers Fournette when he’s on the field for a while now, but this early season usage is more than a hint.
While Jones has struggled to get touches, Fournette has had more than ten touches in all but one game since coming back from being a healthy scratch against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14 of the 2020 NFL season.
Of course, fumbles and missed pass protection assignments aren’t going to help Rojo get on the field any more than he is already.
SECOND BEST: CHRIS GODWIN’S BOUNCEBACK GAME
Resiliency is perhaps the most coveted characteristic in the NFL. You can learn to have it, but for the most part, there are resilient players, and there aren’t.
Chris Godwin is in the first group and proved it again in Week 2.
In Week 1, Godwin fumbled the football on the Dallas Cowboys two-yard line trying to score what would have been a game-clinching touchdown.
Dallas recovered, and on the ensuing drive, they took a late lead. Godwin then came up with a big catch, the final catch of the game, to put the Bucs in Ryan Succop’s field goal range.
Bucs win, and Godwin gets to celebrate bouncing back from what could have been a massive mistake.
In Week 2, the mistake was less significant, but the rebound was big.
Brady and Godwin had already connected twice for 24-yards and then a third attempt at connecting was interfered with by Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell. So the receiver and his quarterback had already sensed they could do some work against Atlanta, and the defense knew it as well.
On the fourth attempt to connect, Brady looked for No. 14 on a third and five play at the Buccaneers’ own 48-yard line. Tampa Bay led 14-7 at the time, and the catch would have given them a new set of downs on the Atlanta side of the field, looking to extend their early lead.
Godwin dropped the pass though, and the Bucs punted. Again, not the biggest of mistakes, but a mistake nonetheless.
As some groaned on social media about a dropped pass from Godwin, connecting it with other dropped passes, I thought about the receiver's tendency to make up for mistakes.
Make up for it he did, hauling in a touchdown pass just two targets later. The score made it 34-25 and came in the midst of Atlanta’s comeback bid.
The trajectory of the pass, meeting it in the air while jumping backwards, defender trying to once again interfere with the catch, the comeback is better than the fall.
Dropping the pass on third down cost the Bucs a first down, and a chance at points. Catching the touchdown pass secured points, and put down the Falcons’ uprising, just in time.
THE WORST: LETTING A STRUGGLING TEAM BACK INTO THE GAME
Let’s not get too disrespectful of the Atlanta Falcons here. They are an NFL team and quarterback Matt Ryan did help lead them to a Super Bowl not too long ago. Yes, I know 28-3...it’s funny. Still is.
That being said, the Falcons are a team in search of an identity. They don’t know who they are. Ryan is going to be 37-years old before next season and likely won’t be part of the long-term plans at some point in the near future.
Calvin Ridley is getting his chance to establish himself as a No. 1 wide receiver, but we haven’t seen the takeover ability most want in a top guy. Kyle Pitts is a rookie just two games into his NFL career.
The defense is devoid of star players outside of maybe middle linebacker Deion Jones, and even he isn’t a national name.
Atlanta’s running back group has gone through more characters than the Black Mirror Netflix series, and their top back now is...a wide receiver.
This isn’t a team you’d expect to hang with a Super Bowl champion, even if it is a division rivalry. At least not to the point where the Falcons had the ball with a chance to take the lead, in the fourth quarter.
That’s what we had though. And nobody is happy about it.
THE BEST: MIKE EDWARDS’ BIG DAY
This brings us to Mike Edwards and the two interceptions he brought back for touchdowns to put the Falcons down, once and for all.
On the first, Edwards steps in front of Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage and picks off the intended pass from Ryan. He then races one lonely Atlanta lineman to the endzone.
On the next pick-six, Edwards is the beneficiary of pocket penetration from the Buccaneers defensive front, and a deflection on a cornerback blitz from Carlton Davis III.
As the ball flies into the air off Davis’ hand Edwards, who had come in on a blitz as well, tracks the ball brings it down, and backs into the end zone.
Edwards was flagged for taunting on the play because
the referee is a Falcons fan the NFL has put a new emphasis this season on not adding insult to injury.
Likewise, officials would certainly never let a front flip into the endzone go unflagged as well. Even if it was a terribly executed flip attempt. Anyway.