Any football fan will tell you, whether it’s at school, work, or on your favorite sports talk show— Monday mornings are for bragging rights, armchair quarterbacks, and “Did you see when?!” This Monday morning, Buccaneers’ fans giving a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of the game will start with the—
First quarter- Tampa Bay started with the ball and didn’t take much time getting the ball to this week’s headline grabber, Chris Godwin. The Bucs’ wide receiver was targeted and caught the ball on the game’s second play. Tampa’s opening drive concluded with a Chase McLaughlin kick, when Todd Bowles opted against a fourth down conversion attempt a three-point lead. Atlanta was unphased by Tampa Bay’s lead, storming down the field on their first possessions for a field goal of their own. The Buccaneers responded with a rapid punt—
Jake Camarda’s leg strength flashed, pinning Atlanta deep in their territory. Backed up, the Falcons’ conservative play calling backfired. Carlton Davis shot forward stealing Desmond Ridder’s pass out of the air.
Second quarter- Quarter number two started with sparks flying. The Buccaneers’ offense cashed in on their defense’s playmaking, when Baker Mayfield ran through Jessie Bates at the goal line— Touchdown Bucs, 10-3. The Tampa Bay defense giveth, then they taketh away. The sequel to Carlton Davis’ interception— A Desmond Ridder touchdown pass. 10-10.
Jake Camarda’s next punt, much like his first, also directly contributed to points. Pinned deep, Atlanta decided to throw the ball and forced fans to watch in horror as their quarterback stood in his own team’s end zone, clueless, waiting for Antoine Winfield Jr. The Bucs’ safety came screaming off Ridder’s blind side for a strip sack. Atlanta’s recovery of the fumble gave Tampa Bay two points and a 12-10 lead, which they took into the half.
ANTOINE WINFIELD JR AND THE BUCCANEERS FORCE A SAFETY pic.twitter.com/gNPNn3UdnQ— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) December 10, 2023
Special teams has been the difference—
The Buccaneers have a punter with a huge leg. That leg strength was on display in this game. Two of Jake Camarda’s punts, which backed up the Falcons’ offense, led to nine of the team’s 12 total point, at the half.
Tampa’s two point lead would look significantly different if Younghoo Koo made either of his two kicks.
Third quarter- The second half started with a punt for the home team, a punt for the visiting team, and then another punt for each team. It wasn’t until the second-half of the third quarter, Baker Mayfield and the Tampa Bay offense found its stride. Tampa drove down the field, featuring Rachaad White on the ground and through the air. White’s 31-yard score gave the Bucs a two possession lead, they carried into Sunday’s final quarter of action.
Fourth quarter- With four punts, two missed field goals, and safety, in their last seven drives the Falcons’ offense took the field. Their drive, aided by penalty, would cruise down the field for a Bijan Robinson touchdown. The Buccaneers answered Atlanta with another field goal, but it wouldn’t be enough to hold the lead. As has been the case far too many times this season, the Bucs’ defense bent all game and then broke when it mattered most. A Desmond Ridder deep ball, followed by the quarterback running for a touchdown, capped off by a successful two-point conversion.
This put Baker Mayfield in the position any competitor craves. A game-winning drive opportunity. The Bucs’ often questioned quarterback drove his team down the field, finding Cade Otton for a game-sealing score. Bucs win and secure first place in the NFC South.
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