The Falcons have won the rebound game before

by Gary Shelton on December 25, 2019

in general

Thursday, 4 a.m.

This one should be in the bag, right?

Beat the Atlanta Falcons? Heck, the Bucs have already beaten the Atlanta Falcons. At their place. When the Bucs were 3-7. They won by 13, and they were ahead by 19 with two minutes left to play.

So what's the big deal in doing it again?

Ah, but that's the thing about games. You never know. The Bucs and Falcons have been playing twice a season only since 2002, and four times in that stretch, Tampa Bay has won the first game ... and lost the second.

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Could it happen again? Of course it could. The Falcons have won three straight games, and Julio Jones is healthy again, and the Bucs are just 2-5 playing at home this season. Sure, Atlanta could win.

It happened in 2003, remember. That was the year that Jon Gruden ran off Rich McKay, and McKay immediately bounced to the Falcons. The Bucs won the first game between the two that season, 34-10. But in the second meeting, with McKay sitting in the visiting owner's' box. Atlanta won 30-28.

It happened again in 2008. The Bucs won the team's first meeting that year, 24-9. They lost the second meeting, 13-10, as Jon Gruden started a hurting Brian Griese over Chris Simms, who had practiced with teh first unit all week. Griese had not played in nine weeks. That loss was the closest of the four straight game-ending losses that kept the Bucs from the playoffs.

And how about 2011? The Bucs won the first game, 16-13. But they were blown out in the second, 45-24. At one point in the game, it was 42-0, with meant it was farewell time for Raheem Morris.

Then there was 2016. The Bucs won 31-24 in the first meeting as quarterback Jameis Winston threw for four touchdowns. They lost the second 43-28. It was 33-14 after three quarters. Matt Ryan hit 25 of 34 passes for 344 yards and had a quarterback rating of 144.7.

So could the Bucs lose this game? Are you kidding? The last time that teams met, Chris Godwin had 184 yards on seven catches. This week, no one is sure how healthy he might be. The last time the teams met, Ryan had a rating of 59.2. He has been worse against Tampa Bay only once -- is his first meeting 23 games ago.

Bet on this. Ryan won't be as bad as he was, which means the Bucs' defense has to be better. That means Winston has to throw it to the right team, never a safe bet.

“I think some people made some good plays, but also, it’s just something that you just have to keep working at and I’m going to keep working at it and I’m going to eliminate it – I will," Winston said Wednesday of his turnovers."When I do that, we’re going to be tough.”

Is Sunday the time to start?

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