Accompanied by a swift kick in the teeth, reality reasserts itself.
Falcons 34 – Bucs 20
So, about that Tampa defense which was bringing its game the past couple of weeks? I think the rubber band broke, as the Bucs D coughed up 500+ yards in total offense for the Falcons. Half of those were pulled in by Atlanta receiver Julio Jones, who notched 253 yards on the day along with two touchdowns. To put that in perspective, eight different Bucs receivers together collected 283 yards, and none of them had a TD attached.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, for the third week in a row stepping in for Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, had a decent enough day, completing 27 of 44 passes for 274 yards. Each of Tampa’s two touchdowns came on short scampers from running back Peyton Barber, both highlights of an otherwise frustrating day.
The loss drops the Bucs to 4-7, deep in the cellar of the NFC South Division. Atlanta’s win moves them to 7-4, one game behind rivals New Orleans and Carolina. Is Tampa eliminated from playoff contention? Technically, no. That said, about half the teams in the NFC will need to disappear into the Bermuda Triangle or some other temporal anomaly or gateway to a parallel universe in order for the Bucs to have any real shot. I’m going to go out on a limb, here, and guess that oddsmakers in Vegas haven’t considered such scenarios.
Next up? The Bucs travel to Green Bay to take on their longtime rivals, the Packers. Way back in the Before Time, both teams along with Minnesota, Detroit, and Chicago made up the old NFC Central Division, and match-ups between the Bucs and Packers used to be called “the Bay of Pigs” by great ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman.
Ah, those were the days. At this point, I’m guessing we’ll be having another one of those games, next week.
Bucs life, though, right?