Bucs hang to beat plucky Falcons

by Gary Shelton on October 10, 2022

in general

Fournette had 139 total yards./TIM WIRT

Monday, 4 a..m.

Isn't winning supposed to be more satisfying than this?

Isn't success suppose to erase all the problems.

Alas, the Tampa Bay Bucs won Sunday afternoon, but they didn't look good in doing it. They beat an Atlanta team without its best two weapons, despite building a huge lead, despite having a decided edge in talent.

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Brady threw for 351 yards./Tim Wirt

"I don’t think we executed in the third quarter," said Bucs' coach Todd Bowles. "The first half we kept their defense on the field. Second half, our offense was going three-and-out, which kept our defense on the field. Fatigue set in for both sides, I think. It was a tough ball game, and wins are hard to come by in this league. We were playing for first place, and we were happy we could get it.”

It ended up 21-15, and who knows what might have happened if Atlanta had gotten the ball again? The Falcons were the better team in the fourth period, putting the Tampa Bay defense on its heels.

The Bucs won the game because they jumped to a 21-0 lead as quarterback Tom Brady threw for most of his 344 yards. The Bucs ate up the final 4:38 of the game, helped by a delay of game penalty against the Falcons' Grady Jarrett.

“I don’t know," Bowles said. "I saw that one being called. I saw it against Tua [Tagovailoa] when he got hit, and in the London game this morning. I think they are starting to crack down on some of the things, slinging backs. I don’t know. Right now, the way they are calling [it], I think a lot of people would’ve gotten that call.”

Said Brady: "I don't throw the flags."'

The cliche in sports is that any one you win is a good one, and that's true to a certain extent. It was cerainly an improvement to the 41-pooint loss against Kansas City in the previous week. But the run defense was too porous, and Atlanta quarterback Marcus Mariotta was able to convert too many third downs.

For the day, the Falcons ran for 151 yards. In the last two weeks, the Bucs have given up 340 yards rushing.

The Bucs got 56 yards rushing from Leonard Fournette and 83 yards on 10 catches.

“He was a beast," said receiver Mike Evans. "All week we knew they (Atlanta) get real soft in coverage and they like to play deep in their coverage, and we knew that the backs would have a good chance to get a lot of balls this weekend.

“He can do it all. He’s super durable, one of the most durable guys I’ve ever been around. Super strong, hard to bring down. He talked to us before the game and said we have to pick it up. And we did offensively, but we didn’t do enough. We should’ve scored way more points than 21.”

Bowles agreed that Fournette was a force.

“He plays tough" Bowles said. "He plays tough. He ran hard, he blocked hard. He caught a lot of balls. He stretched on first downs. Even when he was behind the sticks, he broke a few tackles for us. So, everything he did today we needed.”

For the Bucs, even a wobbly win was better than the previous two weeks when the team lost.

“Obviously tough to lose two straight at home, but we didn’t deserve it and that’s football," Brady said. "You know, you’ve got to earn it. There are no easy games – you have to play [well]. And you know, certainly five games in, you know, we have a lot of work to do. We’re not nearly at the point where we’re capable of being, and we need a lot of people to step up. We [have] to get people out there playing [and consistently healthy]. You know, we’ve got to keep practicing, get together, make the corrections and try to continue to improve.”

The Bucs are at the Steelers on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Godwin caught six passes on Sunday./TIM WIRT

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