DLT’s Doubloons – Buccaneers Grind It Out Against the Falcons


In the end, they don’t ask how, just how many. The Buccaneers took a 21-0 lead but allowed division rival Atlanta to claw their way back within a single score. In the end, the Bucs were able to grind out the clock (with the help of a suspect penalty), and win their first game at Raymond James Stadium in 2022.

What I Liked

The Bucs defense returned to their dominant fashion, shutting out Atlanta for 3 quarters before beginning to wear down in the final quarter. In the end, the Bucs held a 21 point lead and despite a scrappy Falcons team not giving up, the defense did just enough to hold on.

What I Didn’t

Tampa Bay not only did a terrible job of burning the clock in the fourth quarter, running just 78 seconds off the clock in their first two drives of the final stanza, their game clinching drive to run out the clock needed to be helped by two Falcons penalties. That’s just extremely poor football by the Tampa Bay offense and they were bailed out at the end.

Pieces of Eight

One – Jerome Boger Giveth and He Taketh Away

I’ve been of the opinion for a long time that Jerome Boger’s crew is one of the worst in the NFL They certainly lived up to that reputation on Sunday.

We’ll get to the Jarrett call in a moment – but let’s talk about this crew’s day.

It began midway through the first quarter when Cade Otton caught a pass and appeared to reach the line to gain for first down. The crew marked him short. Then, on the next play, again, it appeared Leonard Fournette had reached the Falcons 14 yd line before being driven backward, and again they marked him short, causing a turnover-on-downs.

They would rise again late in the first half, calling Vita Vea for a weak penalty for roughing Marcus Mariota, who should get an academy award for his flop. Tampa Bay would eventually force Atlanta to settle for a field goal, which they missed.

In the third quarter, Mike Evans would tip-toe down the sideline and extend the ball for the goal line for a touchdown – except, Boger’s crew ruled him short. A clear error. Thankfully, we have replay to fix that right? Welp, Boger looked at the replay and somehow, some way, didn’t see the play the way the rest of the world did and announced the play stood as called. The Buccaneers would score on the next play, but the point was – they shouldn’t have had to.

Late in the third quarter, Atlanta finally mounted a drive thanks to a quick three-and-out by the Bucs offense and a superb return by Avery Williams gave the Falcons the ball at the Bucs 43. They methodically moved the ball down the field and on 2nd-and-goal from the 8, Williams would wiggle his way for the touchdown. The problem? There were two clear and obvious holds on the run that should have wiped it off the board.

Then, facing 2nd-and-5 at the Falcons’ 37 and 3:09 left, Tom Brady went deep to Scotty Miller, who was basically tackled before the ball got to him. No call.

The next play, the Falcons’ Grady Jarrett sacks Brady, but was called for an extremely weak roughing the passer call. Jarrett did roll over Brady and then even stepped over him to celebrate his sack. It wasn’t a good call, but for once, the Bucs benefited from a bad one.

The bottom line, Boger’s crew was terrible throughout the game for both sides. The narrative will be “Oh, the league gave Brady another one.” Yet, neither team can be happy with the officials’ performance in this one.

Two – The Bucs Offense Is Broken

Yes, they rolled up 420 yds and 17 first downs, but the Buccaneers’ offense is broken. Tampa Bay managed just 21 points against an Atlanta defense that surrendered 25.3 ppg in their previous four outings.

The Buccaneers continued to fail in the running game, managing just 3.0 yds a carry on their way to an underwhelming 65 yds on the day. That forced the banged up Tom Brady to have to throw the ball 52 times. He would complete 35 for 351 yds and a touchdown.

Still, the Bucs ended up 2-of-5 in the redzone, again settled for field goals and didn’t come away with points in one trip into the red zone in the first half.

One or two bad games are one thing. If you’re like this in four of your five performances on the season – this is who you are.

Now, the Bucs may explode next week in Pittsburgh, and maybe they will again in Carolina, making this concern moot, but right now I think we need to accept that this isn’t Bruce Arians’ offense anymore. The Bucs aren’t explosive. They’re not terrible, they’re not great. They’re just…okay.

Three – Bucs Defense Bounces Back

Tampa Bay’s top notch defense returned to form against an Atlanta offense that came into the game 25.8 points per game. Yes, the Falcons got their yards on the ground, finishing with 151 yds – but most of that was gained by quarterback Marcus Mariota, who escaped containment a few times to pound out 61 yds with his feet, including a 23 yder in the second half. Mariota only managed 147 yds throwing and was sacked 5 times.

Tampa Bay also added 8 tackles for loss and 10 QB hits.

The Bucs certainly weren’t perfect. They were abysmal on third down yet again, allowing 6-of-14 42% and gave up touchdowns in Atlanta’s only two trips to the red zone.

Yet, in the end, the Falcons just managed 261 yds of total offense and 15 points. That would be enough to get the Bucs to victory for the first time at home.

Four – Fournette is Still a Focus

While the Bucs running game has been awful, Fournette isn’t the reason why. Fournette pounded out 56 yds on 14 carries and a touchdown. He wasn’t done, he would also nab a team high ten receptions for 83 yds and a touchdown receiving.

That’s a pretty large workload for “Playoff Lenny”, who may not make it to the playoffs if the other running backs on the team don’t start stepping up.

Raachad White would contribute 14 yds on 5 carries and caught 3 passes for 28 yds.

Five – They All Don’t Have to Be Picassos

Quite a few Bucs fans are complaining about this win. Who the heck do we think we are? This franchise hasn’t reached a level where we as a fanbase can turn our noses up to victories.

The Buccaneers beat a scrappy Falcons team who despite being 2-3, have been competitive in every game they’ve played this season. They should have beaten New Orleans. They scared the bejesus out of the Rams, rallying very much as they did against Tampa Bay. Then they beat Cleveland and Seattle in close games.

Bottom line, that team has a lot of heart and while other Atlanta teams would have probably packed it in when they fell behind 21-0, they kept fighting and made the Bucs sweat a little on a very hot day.

Six – Cade Otton is Coming Along

Cade Otton is quietly beginning to earn Tom Brady’s trust. While the rookie tight end out of Washington won’t make anyone forget Gronk, Otton had his best game as a Buccaneer, catching 6 of his 7 targets for 43 yds. He certainly was better than Kyle Rudolph, who dropped his only opportunity and derailed a drive where he would have had a first down.

If Otton can continue to grow as a viable safety blanket for Brady, Tampa Bay’s offense may begin to resemble the unit that made defenses tremble in fear throughout the league.

Seven – Crazy Day For The NFC South

While the Bucs and Falcons battled for first place in the NFC South, the Saints fought for their season at home in a thriller with Seattle. Bayou Tebow, Taysom Hill, saved New Orleans, rushing for 3 touchdowns in a 39-32 barnburner. The Saints join the Falcons at 2-3.

Meanwhile, the Panthers were pummelled by 49ers 37-15. Baker Mayfield was pick-sixed and Carolina moved a little closer to the end of the Matt Rhule era, as they tumbled to 1-4.

Eight – Next Up: A Different Steelers

The Buccaneers leave the friendly confines of Raymond James Stadium and hit the road to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers, a team that resembles nothing like the legendary Super Bowl contender that was typical under head coach Mike Tomlin’s leadership.

The Steelers offense is one of the lowest scoring in the league (15.4 ppg), 30th overall. Their defense, playing without TJ Watt, isn’t much better, giving up 25.6 points per game and is ranked 29th in total defense.

Pittsburgh has turned things over to rookie 1st round quarterback Kenny Pickett, but it hasn’t been pretty thus far. Pickett has 0 TD passes and 4 ints. Buffalo pummelled the Pittsburgh quarterback, 38-3.

Needless to say, this is a team the Buccaneers should beat, but that’s why they play the games.

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