So, the bye week didn’t seem to do much good, huh?
Falcons 34 – Bucs 29
Sure, this is a day or so late, but what’s the diff? It’s not like they snuck back and won when I wasn’t looking, amirite?
The first start of the year for quarterback Jameis Winston following his 3-game suspension to start the season and an extra week to prepare for a game against a struggling division rival. An opportunity to arrest a 2-game skid and maybe shore up their standing in said division. This meal had all the ingredients to be pretty tasty.
Somebody forgot to heat the oven.
The recipe probably didn’t call for Atlanta to score touchdowns on their first three possessions, and likely didn’t factor in Tampa missing the extra point following their only score of the first quarter. Though Winston threw for nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns on the day, he also got picked twice, and the offensive line let the Falcons D get to him for two sacks.
Speaking of defense, the Bucs definitely have a problem on this side of the ball. They’ve given up 30 or more points in four of the first five games this season. That coupled with the offense’s inconsistency spells trouble. They were able to contain Atlanta’s run game for the most part, but with Falcons QB Matt Ryan throwing the ball all over the place it ended up being a largely unappreciated endeavor.
And despite everything, you have to hand it to Winston, who almost…almost….engineered a last-second victory. It all came down to the final play of the game, with the Bucs resorting to a few desperate laterals that…you know…never work 99.99999999999% of the time and falling a mere two yards short of the go-ahead score as time expired. It’s the very definition of a heartbreaking loss.
The loss, Tampa’s third in a row, drops them to 2-3 on the year and hanging by their fingernails to keep from falling into the NFC South Division basement. That spot’s occupied by the Falcons, who improved to 2-4. Despite being on their bye week, New Orleans holds onto the top spot at 4-1, and Carolina lost so they’re now at 3-2. Yep, that’s the NFC South: pretty tight, standings-wise. If they hold true to form, everybody in that division will be fighting it out tooth and nail for the rest of the season.
Next up for the Bucs? They host the sputtering Cleveland Browns, and they’ll do it with a new defensive coordinator: linebackers coach Mark Duffner, who gets the promotion following Mike Smith being fired following Sunday’s loss. Duffner’s been a DC before, having performed those duties for the Cincinnati Bengals. Of course, it’s been a while (2002), so here’s hoping he doesn’t waste too much time shaking off the rust before this weekend’s game.
Bucs life, yo.