Late turnovers lead Bucs to win over Falcons

by Gary Shelton on September 20, 2021

in general

Edwards delivered the kill shot shots Sunday./TIM WIRT

Monday, 4 a.m.

Rob Gronkowski scored twice. No big news there. Eighteen times before Sunday (and three more in the playoffs), Gronkowski has had two touchdown receptions in a game. He and the end zone are old buddies.

Mike Evans scored twice. No headline there, either. Eleven times, Evans has caught at least two touchdown passes in a game. He's been there before.

But Mike Edwards?

Who saw that coming?

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Edwards, a defensive back, saved the day Sunday afternoon. Not only that, he allowed his team -- and their fans -- to strut over a big win despite lapses in focus throughout the game. Edwards scored twice in 3:52 to alter the way most fans will remember this game.

"Mike Edwards – hell of a football player," said Bucs' coach Bruce Arians. "He plays a lot of positions and did a great job in that fourth quarter. I am not happy with the way we played. Loved the start, then we get lackadaisical. I liked the start of the second half. Then we get lackadaisical. That’s not going to work next week. I think we got a lot to learn from. It’s always better to learn it from winning. I liked the way we finished the game.”

Tom Brady threw for five touchdowns passes and 276 yards in the Bucs' win. He might have thrown more, but the Bucs kept Edwards on defense.

“I think he has a great grasp of (the offense)," Arians said. "That’s obvious. The way teams are trying to play us, he sees it early and they usually don’t break their pattern. Even when the game got back tight, they were still the same. And, guys made plays for him. We still dropped some balls though. It could have been a better output earlier. It ended up being a nice output, but it should have happened earlier.”

It was the ninth straight game the Bucs have scored at least 30 points, but Brady didn't seem impressed.

What I think – and I’m sure other guys feel the same way – is I think we could do better," Brady said. "I really do. I think we have the opportunity, the way that the games are flowing and the opportunities we’re getting with the ball, we have even more opportunities. We’re a little loose with the ball – some penalties at different times that have knocked us out of some scoring drives – some missed throws that I’ve had, some missed reads – certainly wish that I made a few better throws tonight. But again, good to get the win – 2-0 and there’s a lot to build on and just good to beat a division opponent. We have to go on the road against a really good team next week.”

Receiver Chris Godwin was more excited about the 30-point streak.

"It’s dope," Godwin said. "I think that the more we figure out each other and learn each other, the better it is going to be. It’s not easy to put up 30 points in this league. That is not only a testament to our offense but to our defense continuing to give us opportunities to go out there and score touchdowns. Any time you have a guy like Tom [Brady] leading us, you’re in a good spot. All the skill players around him trust him and trust is one of the biggest things you can have in this game. “

The Bucs led 28-10 at one point before the Falcons' Matt Ryan passed his team back into the game, shaving the deficit to three points. But Edwards and the Bucs' defense took over as the Bucs ran their record to 2-0 on the season.

“I think we jump out, we feel good, we got them, and then we relax for 10 or 15 minutes," Arians said. "Then we turn it back up, and then relax again. We haven’t played for 60 minutes yet. And that’s what we talked about. We are going to have to play 60 minutes to beat the Rams.”

Brady was impressed with Edwards' play.

“There’s certain people I’ve been around in my career that just find a way to get the ball in their hands and make plays with it, and Mike obviously comes up with a lot of those at the end of the game," Brady said. "During the game too, he just gets good jumps on the quarterback, he’s in good positions to make the plays and he makes them. It’s one thing to be in a position and to have it there – how many have we seen go through the defensive backs’ hands – but he catches it and that was really great to see. Great way to kind of put a stamp on the fourth quarter like that – great plays by the defense.”

Edwards, naturally, was pleased.

“Ever since I was growing up, people always looked at me as a ball hawk," Edwards said. "I’ve always been around the ball trying to make plays [and] create turnovers. That is what I tried to do when I came here. From day one, I always try to make a point of emphasis to take the ball away. Whenever the ball comes my way, I try to get interceptions or takeaways. As you can see today, I got two turnovers and I am trying to keep improving every week.”

Arians credits Edwards with the save.

"I mean he’ll tip it to himself," Arians said. "I mean he is just a ballhawk. He always has been since he’s been here. He finds the ball. Guys are hollering to him ‘get outside, get outside.’ He suckered them right into it. He knew exactly what he was doing. So, Mike [Edwards] is a good football player.”

Brady says he, too, can be better.

“Yeah I think we’re 2-0," Brady said. "That’s the most important thing for me is that we got two wins – I know I can play better, I can make some better throws. I had some more opportunities today to make some throws – I missed AB (Antonio Brown) a few times, had some other reads I should’ve done a better job on, but we’ll keep working at it and keep getting in football shape and get used to this heat a little bit. We have two games on the road, so try to go on the road and win a tough game.”

The Bucs travel to Los Angeles next week to play the Rays at 4:25 p.m.

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