Two Bucs suspended for Falcons’ game

by Gary Shelton on December 3, 2021

in general

Tristan Wirfs has helped protect Brady./TIM WIRT

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 the league's health and safety protocols. Brown's agent, Sean Burstyn, denied the charges.

Granted, the Bucs were set to miss Brown again Sunday, and Edwards was probably not going to start. But the last time the team's played, Edwards had two pick-six interceptions for touchdowns. Brown didn't do much -- one catch for 17 yards, but in last season's finale, he caught 11 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

As it is, the Bucs are a 10 1/2 point favorite over the 5-6 Falcons.

"I think winning against a division opponent is tough," said quarterback Tom Brady. "When you play division opponents on the road, it's a challenging game. We've got four division games coming up. We didn't do so [well] the last division game on the road, so we've got to take care of business. It's a good team and a very competitive team [with] a lot of good players. So, it's going to be a big challenge and hopefully we can go meet it."

In his career, Brady is 66-16 in December. He knows the finish line.

“I see the same guy every day, so I don’t notice any difference," said offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. "I think the focus is the same in September as it is in December. Record-wise, I don’t know, but just being around him, he comes to work every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s June or December. I tend to think that we get the same guy every day. To me, it doesn’t seem [any] different. In December, you know as a team that you want to execute better. You want to start playing your best football. He’s been a part of a lot of good football teams and good football teams always play well in December.”

Said Brady: "It's always the whole team coming together. I think that's the best part about football. Over the course of a long season everything kind of shows itself and I think [it's] the work ethic of the team and the commitment to getting better, the camaraderie. Some of those things don't show up in the first four weeks of the season but over the course of a long season you get to see a lot of intangible qualities that I think good teams [have], which [are] caring about one another, making the right plays consistently. In the NFL any team can win one game. We're all talented enough to do that. I think you could be relatively talented and go 8-8. But it's hard to have a really positive record, and it's always about the team committing to each other and the teammates caring about one another and consistently doing the right thing, putting yourself in a position to win."

Part of the reason for Brady's recent success has been the offensive line keeping him upright. He's been sacked just twice in the last three games.

“They allow us to do everything that we do," Leftwich said. "I say it time-in and time-out what we ask them to do, [they do]. Sometimes they go unnoticed, which is a good thing for an offensive line. When the offensive line isn’t getting noticed that’s always a good thing. I think it all starts there with us. It started there with us last year – run game, pass game. It will start there with us this year, run game, pass game. Those guys have been doing a heck of a job for us really all year. They’ve been the most consistent group all year.

“(His ability to avoid sacks) is not just the quarterback and the O-line. It’s wide receivers – we have sight adjustments and things that you have to get involved in with our offense. Everyone is involved. All 11 people are involved. All 11 people have a hand on if or if not you get sacked.”

The Bucs and Falcons play at 1 p.m. in Atlanta Sunday.


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