Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5 Key Takeaways from Bucs vs. Falcons

The Bucs continue their third down struggles but keep pace with their takeaway success in the game against Atlanta.

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A behind-the-scenes look at the Buccaneers' Week 12 matchup with the Falcons.

  1. Defense continues their takeaway success.**
    The Buccaneers defense has consistently taken the ball away all season. With the Buccaneers within one score of the Falcons in the fourth quarter following a Tampa Bay touchdown, rookie linebacker Kendell Beckwith forced a fumble from Falcons' running back Terron Ward that was recovered by cornerback Brent Grimes and ran back to the Tampa Bay 42-yard line.  It gave the Buccaneers the chance they needed to tie up the game, but the offense couldn't capitalize. Since 2016, Tampa Bay has the most forced fumbles (28) and most fumble recoveries (22) in the league. They also rank second in overall takeaways in that time span with 49. *

2. Offense still effective at spreading the ball around to multiple receivers.
The versatility of the Bucs' passing game hasn't suffered under quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitz connected with eight receivers throughout the game, five of which had three or more catches. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson got involved early and often, catching a team-leading eight passes, good for his most since 2014. Rookie tight end O.J. Howard continued his production, catching three passes for 52 yards, including a 29-yard completion on a drive that resulted in a Buccaneers' touchdown.

*3. The Buccaneers continue their search for success on third-down.
The Buccaneers have struggled with third downs on both sides of the ball all season and Sunday was no exception. On defense, the Bucs allowed the Falcons to convert 11 of 14 third down situations for a 78 percent success rate. Atlanta was able to convert on multiple third-and-long situations to keep drives alive. In the Falcons' first possession of the second half, the Bucs defense got Atlanta in a third-and-9 situation, only to give up a 25-yard reception to receiver Mohamed Sanu in a drive that would result in a Falcons' touchdown. Offensively, the team converted 36 percent of their third down attempts, finding success of four of 11 tries. However, it's worth noting that the Bucs ended up with 27 first downs on the day, besting Atlanta's total of 23. *
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4. The defense allowed Atlanta to be effective in both the running and passing game, allowing offensive flexibility.
The Falcons had 516 yards of total offense in Sunday's contest and were successful in two of three trips into the red zone. Atlanta had 148 yards rushing despite their number one rusher, Devonta Freeman, being out with a concussion for the second straight game. Running backs Tevin Coleman and Terron Ward (brother to Bucs' safety T.J. Ward) stepped in and had 97 and 35 yards, respectively. With the run game established, the Falcons managed 368 yards through the air. Making an offense one-dimensional by taking away the running game has been a point of emphasis for the Bucs' defense, although it was one they couldn't manage in Atlanta.*

*5. Atlanta was able to create explosive plays.
The Bucs' defense gave up multiple 'explosive' plays on Sunday – most at the hands of Falcons' receiver Julio Jones. The most bizarre play came on Jones' first touchdown of the game, where he caught a 51-yard pass downfield on third-and-1, not from Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, but receiver Mohamed Sanu, for the score. From that point on, the Bucs' defense didn't seem to have an answer for Jones, who finished the day with 12 receptions for 253 yards and two touchdowns. However, it wasn't all on the defense. Inside the red zone, with an opportunity to tie the game following the huge forced fumble and subsequent recovery by the defense, Atlanta came up with a huge play to stop the Bucs' offense from converting on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter.

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