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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

4 Quick Thoughts Following Buccaneers vs. Falcons

A few things we learned from all the back and forth of Sunday's matchup with the division-rival Falcons in Atlanta.

DE Jason Pierre-Paul, No. 90
DE Jason Pierre-Paul, No. 90

-We got flashes of the running game and it was enough to do what the Bucs needed it to do. Running back Peyton Barber finished with the bulk of Tampa Bay's 123 rushing yards and it allowed the Bucs' offense to open up a little bit more. The coaches had been talking all week how much getting the run game involved can actually help the passing game in that it helps to sell play action because the defense sees the run as a threat. Sure enough, the Bucs' touchdown pass to second-year receiver Chris Godwin in the third quarter was on a nine-yard play-action pass that pulled the Bucs within two points of the Falcons. The inverse worked as well. The first run that Barber broke loose on, quarterback Jameis Winston actually faked the throw and instead handed off to his running back who picked up 28 yards on the carry in the Bucs' first series of the game.

-The Bucs really struggled on third down, defensively. Tampa Bay had entered Week 6 allowing just a 37.2% conversion rate on third downs. The Falcons were eight-for-13 on third downs on the day but that doesn't tell the whole story. The dagger that doesn't show up on the stat sheet is that a lot of those were third-and-long situations that should have been stopped. The defense did the work on first and second down to force those situations but couldn't hold. In Atlanta's last possession of the game as the Bucs were down two points, the Bucs forced the Falcons into third-and-8 but they converted on a pass to tight end Austin Hooper. The drive resulted in a 58-yard field goal that meant the Bucs then needed a touchdown to win with no timeouts under their belt. Despite being one lateral away from pulling it off, it proved to be too much in the end.

-Quarterback Jameis Winston picked up right where he left off in the preseason. Making his first start of the 2018 season in Atlanta, he went 30-of-41 for 395 yards and four touchdowns. He had two interceptions, but one was the result of a ball that was deflected off the defender's helmet and popped straight up in the air. It happened to be in the end zone where a bunch of Atlanta defenders were waiting to come down with it. The Falcons wouldn't capitalize though as the Bucs' defense forced a three-and-out. The Bucs also put up 512 yards of total offense as they looked more balanced than they have all season. The problem was getting in too deep of a hole in the first half to overcome, though they still nearly did it.

-There were broken records abound because of those 512 yards of offense. Wide receiver Mike Evans broke the record for most receiving yards in Bucs history, passing Mark Carrier for the feat. Evans now has 5,063 yards receiving in his career and after being locked up this past offseason for five more years after this one, he'll have plenty of time to increase that record. Quarterback Jameis Winston now owns the record for most games with three or more touchdowns with nine. He surpassed Brad Johnson. He also recorded his 12th game of his career with 300 or more passing yards, tying Vinny Testaverde for most such games in franchise history. 

*Bonus quickness:

-Tight end O.J. Howard may, in fact, not be human. After it was thought an MCL sprain would keep him out for a few weeks, he instead returned to play against the Falcons and was 4-for-4 with 62 yards and a pivotal touchdown. The guy is SO tough.

-Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul had a sack in his fourth straight game, which is the first time a Buccaneer has done that since Greg Spires did it across the 2006-2007 seasons. It's the first time a Buc has done it in a single season since Simeon Rice in 2004. JPP now has five sacks on the year - halfway to double digits!

-Tight end Cameron Brate had his third straight game with a touchdown reception and he is now tied with Vincent Jackson for ninth-most touchdown receptions in franchise history.

-Wide receiver Adam Humphries' 51-yard catch was a career long.

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