The Tampa Bay Buccaneers surged to a 28-10 third quarter lead, and won 48-25 after a second half Atlanta would-be comeback attempts fell short.Tom Brady threw for 276 yards and 5 touchdowns. Mike Evans led the Bucs in receiving with 5 catches for 75 yards and 2 touchdowns. Leonard Fournette paced the Buccaneers on the ground with 52 yards on 11 carries.
Brady and Gronkowski connect for two early scores
Brady and Rob Gronkowski extended their career touchdowns as a duo to 102. On the game’s opening drive, Brady found Gronkowski near the sideline for a 20-yard touchdown. Later, with the Buccaneers on the one-yard line and Vita Vea lining up at fullback, Brady play actioned and sent a ball Gronk’s way, which the tight end dove for and snared near the side of the end zone for a 14-0 advantage.
Evans returns to his impactful self
After an Atlanta touchdown and a pair of punts, Brady engineering an 85-yard scoring drive that ended in a 3-yard Evans touchdown. Evans was involved early and often in the offense, catching passes of 20 and 25 yards on the game’s opening drive. He was also his normal dangerous self in the red zone, catching touchdowns of 3 and 1 yards. Evans was quiet in the debut against the Cowboys, but quickly reestablished himself on Sunday afternoon as a weapon to be feared in this offense.
Fournette heads the backfield
There was certainly intrigue about whether Ronald Jones would rebound and see the field more this week, but Fournette again dominated with 15 total touches. Fournette even fumbled on a catch near the sideline in the third quarter, but he remained in the game. It’s becoming apparent that Fournette is emerging as Bruce Arians’ number one more than 1a, with Jones becoming more of a clear second option rather than 1b.
Matt Ryan brings the Falcons back
It was a struggle for the Bucs defense in the third quarter. They yielded 15 points and saw the Falcons draw to within 28-25 after scoring strikes to Calvin Ridley and Cordarelle Patterson. Matt Ryan even ran a read option on the successful 2-point conversion. Ryan was able to avoid pressure for much of the day and found success lobbing the ball over rushers to his receivers and backs for short passes that turned into longer gains. Ryan completed 35 of 46 attempts for 300 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. He was sacked once.
Mike Edwards and the defense slam the door
After a Chris Godwin touchdown pushed the lead back to 10 points at 35-25, the defense finally imposed itself on the Falcons’ offense. Safety Mike Edwards tipped a pass and returned it 32 yards for a back-breaking touchdown and a 41-25 lead. Minutes later, Edwards snared a second interception and returned that one 34 yards for the game’s final points. Between the interceptions, the defense turned away the Falcons on fourth down, with Ryan failing to connect with rookie tight end Kyle Pitts. It was a welcome turn of events for a secondary that has struggled both to stay healthy and to cover well in the absence of a strong pass rush so far this season.
Buccaneers set an NFL record in victory
With its 48-25 win, the Buccaneers became the first team in NFL history to win 9 straight games while scoring 30 or more points (including the playoffs). Ironically, they broke the tie they held with Brady’s 2007 and 2011 Patriots.
Next up: the Buccaneers head to the west coast to take on the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday. The Falcons travel to face the Giants.