Bucs overcome shaky start to dismiss Falcons

by Gary Shelton on December 6, 2021

in general

Godwin's 15 catches were a team record./STEVEN MUNCIE

Monday, 4 a.m.

The quarterback was dominant. The receivers were dominant. The defensive tackles were dominant.

Why, then, didn't the Bucs' 30-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons feel dominant?

The Bucs moved to 9-3 with a victory that felt more difficult than it had to be Sunday. Despite the Bucs' array of weaponry, the Falcons were able to run on the Bucs -- especially on their first drive -- and they marched downfield often enough to make it a close game.











.
Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the GarySheltonSports.com blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on GarySheltonSports.com.






In the end, however, the Brady Bunch was just too tough.

Tom Brady passed for 368 yards and four touchdowns, off-setting a pick-six he threw at the end of the first half. His 112.2 rating was higher than in his previous six games.

And he had so many weapons to choose from. His main receivers, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, combined for 22 catches and 242 yards.

Godwin caught a franchise record 115 passes for 143 yards. Mike Evans caught seven for 99 yards. And tight end Rob Gronkowski caught two touchdown passes. The offensive line was solid in protection.

And although the defense tackled poorly and had trouble getting off the field on third down, they gave up only three points after the Falcons' first drive. Defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea each had two sacks on the day. The Bucs never trailed in the game.

Still, it felt as if the Bucs were not hitting on all cylinders. They're still fell short of the Bucs that fans would want in the playoffs. Their secondary gave up 297 yards passing to Matt Ryan, and the team gave up 121 yards rushing. The Falcons converted nine of 17 third downs, some of them in long situations.

"It was a great road win," Bucs' coach Bruce Arians said. "December football. It wasn't perfect. It was really good at times and really bad at times."

Look, it's hard to sneer at a two-score win in the NFL, especially on the road. But the Bucs' defense, although it had a second-half shutout, didn't put the clamp on Atlanta until late.

Take Brady. His four touchdowns dominated the game. But with a 10-point lead in the final seconds of the first half, his screen pass was intercepted by 278-pound defensive lineman Marlon Davison, who returned it three yards for. a score to narrow Tampa Bay's lead to 20-17.

"Poor call," Arians said. "Poor execution."

"Give him credit," Brady said. "He made a good play."

The Bucs were shaky against the run early, but they gave up just 20 yards in the second half. However, Matt Ryan threw for 181 yards in the second half.

The Falcons lost, however, largely because they couldm't figure out how to stop Godwin, who set a franchise record. He also ran once for nine yards.

"Chris is what he is," Arians aid. "He's a great player. He's one of the best in the league ."

Godwin caught five passes on the Bucs' first drive, which featured 13 straight passing plays.

“He did a great job," Brady said. "He’s had a great season Great teammate. Unbelieveble player."

The Bucs are home against Buffalo next week at 4:25 p.m. Brady called it his team's "biggest game of the year."


Bolts roll over Flyers behind kids

by Gary Shelton on December 6, 2021

in general

Katchouk scored his first NHL goal./TIM WIRT

Monday, 3 a.m.

As it turns out, the kids might be all right, after all.

The much-discussed Kid's Line of the Tampa Bay Lightning took over the city of Philadelphia Sunday night, helping the Bolts surge to a 7-1 victory over the tumbling Flyers, who are 0-6-2 in their last eight games.

Boris Kacthouk scored his first NHL goal, one night after Taylor Raddysh had done the same. Raddysh scored his second goal in as many nights, and Ross Colton had three assists.











.
Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the GarySheltonSports.com blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on GarySheltonSports.com.






Raddysh scored his second in two games./ Tim Wirt

“We’ve been bonding so well off the ice and on it," Katchouk said. "It’s ok if we don’t score. We’re out there to create some energy, create some momentum for the other lines. I think we’ve done that really really well. It’s a bonus if we score."

True, but when a team is playing without Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point, it needs scoring from its depth. Consider than 17 games into the season, neither Corey Perry, Katchouk nor Raddysh had scored.

Perry scored twice Sunday, giving him five goals in his last seven games. It is the kind of breakthrough the Bolts can only hope will happen with the kids.

"They’ve been all around it," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "It's a tough league to score in. It's a tough league to get to. Those guys have been a big part winning some games.

"It was just a matter of time. If we're going to go anywhere, we're going need depth scoring."

The Bolts got two goals from Perry, one from Ryan McDonagh, one from Pat Maroon, one from Mathieu Joseph and one each from Katcouch and Raddysh. The team has now won nine of its last 12 games.

Tampa Bay plays in Montreal on Tuesday night. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.


Stamkos’ overtime goal ends win over Bruins

by Gary Shelton on December 5, 2021

in general

Vasilevskiy stopped a season-high 37 shots./JEFFREY S. KING

Sunday, 4 a.m.

The last second belonged to the captain. Over the career of Steven Stamkos, it often has.

All those seconds that came before it? Most of those belong to Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Stammer and Vasy, two of the last remaining stars of the Tampa Bay Lightning, each came away with a memorable game in a 3-2 overtime victory by the Bolts over the Boston Bruins Saturday night.











.
Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the GarySheltonSports.com blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on GarySheltonSports.com.






Stamkos finished off the win in overtime./JEFFREY S. KING

The Lightning, for the most part, didn't play well, and their defense ended up playing chase for much of the night as the Bruins kept having breakaways. But Vasilevskiy stopped 37 of 39 shots for the win.

The last of those saves came against David Pastrnak. Mikhail Sergachev then found Stamkos open down the ice, and passed to him. Stamkos buried the puck from the right circle for his 10th overtime-ending goal with 1:31 to play. It was his 64th game-winning goal.

“There’s a big reason (his team won)," Stamkos said. "That’s 88 in net. He stole that one for us. We definitely didn’t have our A game, but when you’ve got Vasy back there. you usually have a chance to win. He was the only reason  that gave us a chance. It’s nice to get two points when you don’t have your A game."

Besides Stamkos, Taylor Raddysh scored his first NHL goal. Ondrej Palat also scored.

The Bruins were able to come back from a 2-0 deficit.

“It's an 82-game league," Cooper said. "It’s hard to play your best. Sometimes you have some stinkers, and tonight was a stinker. The goalie was on, which we needed. We got the break on that second goal (which went off a Boston skate). You sit here and try to get points. We’ve played a lot of good hockey. this wasn’t our best, but we came away with two against a division rival. We’ll take those and run."

Arians irritated by Covid suspensions

by Gary Shelton on December 4, 2021

in general

Antonio Brown is in the headlines again./TIM WIRT

Saturday, 4 a.m.

As much as it might hurt to play without starting safety Jerome Whitehead Sunday, that isn't what ticks Bucs' coach Bruce Arians.

Playing hide-and-seek with the Covid protocols. That left Arians annoyed on Friday afternoon.

"Obviously, we have two guys suspended," is he way Arians started his press conference. "The league did their due diligence, and we'll move on. I will not address those guys for the next three weeks. They'll just be working out. And then we'll address their future at that time. Other than that, there is really nothing to say. "










.
Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the GarySheltonSports.com blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on GarySheltonSports.com.




And yet, when Arians was asked to clarify, he said simply"

"Nothing has been decided."

Could Antonio Brown and Mike Edwards face tougher discipline from the team? Might they be released? Might they lose playing time?

At this point, it would be hard to blame the Bucs for whatever they decided. Brown has spent his career in the headlines, and he hasn't exactly observed the "one transgression and you're gone" edict that Arians gave him a year ago. Even if the Bucs welcome him back, who is to say he won't find another controversy?

Arians said the team's focus was on the game to be played.

"Totally on Falcons," Arians said. "Ahead of us. Two guys – basically as we look at it – they’re hurt. And I will say this, the last two years I don't know if there has been a team better against COVID than we have been. This is a setback because of what happened, but we have done an amazing job. We've never had an outbreak in a position room. So, I'm very happy with that part."

Arians said the team's strong adherence to the Covid rules makes it more frustrating.

"Yeah, it pisses me off. It is what it is," Arians said.

Whitehead suffered a calf injury. That won't help Sunday, when the safeties have to help to stop Atlanta's Kyle Pitts. On the other hand, the return of Carlton Davis might.

The Bucs play the Falcons at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Prediction Tampa Bay 30, Atlanta 27.

In other NFL games:

Pittsburgh 21, Baltimore 17.

Kansas City 34, Denver 14.

Buffalo 28,New England 24.

And in the college games:

Georgia 31, Alabama 21.

Cincinnati 24, Houston 20.

Michigan 20, Iowa 14.

Oklahoma State 21, Baylor 17.

Pitt 26, Wake Forest 14.

Hedman leads Lightning win over Blues

December 3, 2021 general

Friday, 4 a.m. Around him, his fellow stars are missing. Still, he remains the most solid of Lightning players, the one you can count on the most. Thursday night, at Amalie Arena, Victor Hedman owned the joint. Hedman, who logs the most ice time for the Lightning, helped his team break a 2-2 tie to […]

Read the full article →

Two Bucs suspended for Falcons’ game

December 3, 2021 general

Friday, 3 a.m. Things are looking up for the Atlanta Falcons. The NFL and Covid just took steps to even the odds in Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Bucs. The NFL announced the suspensions of Antonio Bryant and Mike Edwards Thursday, handing each three-game suspensions for misrepresentation of their Covid vaccination status and violating […]

Read the full article →

Lightning loses big lead in loss to Blues

December 1, 2021 general

Wednesday, 4 a.m. Yes, their star was missing. And their star after that. And the one after that. And the goaltender sat out. You could refer to this team as The-Rest-of-the-Lightning. On the other hand, they led 3-0. How does a professional hockey team lose a 3-0 game? .Content beyond this point is for members […]

Read the full article →

Looking back on the Bucs win over Colts

November 30, 2021 general

Tuesday, 4 a.m. 5 Thoughts Tom Brady has had three of his four lowest-rated performances in the last three weeks. Have teams adjusted to him, or does he miss Antonio Brown that badly? 2. Every time I watch Sean-Murphy Bunting play, I can see smoke. Either he’s getting burned a lot, or they have elected […]

Read the full article →

Bucs rally in second half to beat Colts

November 29, 2021 general

Monday, 4 .M. Wrap this one up the new gap in smile of Vita Vea. It was happy enough at the end, but along the way, the Tampa Bay Bucs took some licks. It was that face, and its missing tooth, that tells the story of a team that sputtered and struggled throughout the first […]

Read the full article →

Lightning falters again in Minnesota

November 29, 2021 general

3 a.m. In Miinnesota, is the Tampa Bay Lightning really a big deal? Elsewhere, the Lighting are a dynasty, winners of two straight Stanley Cup champions. But in Minnesota, they are just another team to beat, as the Wild did again Sunday afternoon. Minnesota beat the Bolts 4-2, a fairly familiar sight. The Wild has […]

Read the full article →