Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Advanced Statistics from Bucs vs. Falcons

Stat Shots presented by Air Force Reserve: In recent weeks, Tampa Bay has dominated in one statistic that is usually correlated with victory: Scoring points off turnovers…That and other statistical takeaways from Sunday's game.

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 23-20, in overtime on Sunday in the Georgia Dome, improving their 2015 record to 3-4. Here are some of the more notable statistics and milestones from Sunday's game:

Rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander gets the lead due to his brave performance in the wake of his younger brother's death earlier in the weekend. Alexander, who was presented with a game ball in the locker room immediately after the game, was one of the game's stars with his team-leading 11 tackles plus an interception and a game-changing moment in which he simply ripped the football out of Julio Jones' grasp. Here are a few milestones Alexander accomplished along the way:

  • The takeaway from Julio Jones, in which Alexander tracked the receiver down from behind, pulled the football away as Jones was being tackle and returned it 20 yards to Atlanta's 21, counts as both a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. That makes the rookie 'backer the first Buccaneer to record an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the same game since potential Hall-of-Famer John Lynch did it against New Orleans on Nov. 24, 1996. That's fine company for Alexander to keep.
  • Alexander also had an interception in the Bucs' win at New Orleans in Week Two and has now accounted for half of all the team's picks through the first seven games. He has already tied the Buccaneers' rookie record for interceptions by a linebacker, with nine more games ahead of him in which he could take it for his own. Hugh Green had two interceptions in his 1981 debut season, four years after David Lewis did the same in 1977.
  • Alexander's 11 tackles in the game marked a career high for him and were the most by a Buccaneer rookie since current teammate Lavonte David racked up 13 stops against San Diego on Nov. 11, 2012.

Alexander can also lead us into our next discussion, since his two takeaways gave Tampa Bay's offense possession at the Atlanta 21 and the midfield stripe, respectively. The Buccaneers capitalized with a field goal after the aforementioned strip of Julio Jones and a touchdown after Alexander's third-down interception of Matt Ryan. In fact, all of the Buccaneers' 20 points during regulation were set up by takeaways by the Buccaneers' defense. Remarkably, over their last three games, the Buccaneers have seven takeaways against just one giveaway and they have scored after every single one of those takeaways. The team's only turnover in that span was Charles Sims' desperation pitch attempt that turned into a fumble in the closing seconds at Washington. Tampa Bay has scored 41 points off turnovers in its last three games and allowed zero.WATCH: BUCS VS. FALCONS HIGHLIGHTS

The last time the Buccaneers committed one or fewer turnovers in a span of three games was in 2013. That team actually had a four-game stretch from Nov. 3 to Nov. 24 in which it turned the ball over just once. Three of those four games were victories; the other was an overtime, 27-24, loss at Seattle.

Behind-the-scenes photos of the Buccaneers vs. Falcons game at the Georgia Dome on November 1st.

Though it took a little extra time, the Buccaneers got the victory that one would expect in a game in which it so thoroughly won the turnover battle. Sunday's game marked the 20th time that Tampa Bay has forced at least four turnovers while not committing a single giveaway of its own. Not surprisingly, the Buccaneers are 17-3 in such games. The unexpected exceptions: a 17-14 overtime defeat at Green Bay on Dec. 24, 2000; a 27-26 loss to Chicago on Oct. 25, 1987; and a 17-12 decision at Pittsburgh on Oct. 30, 1983.

The last loss by any NFL team in a game in which it forced at least four turnovers while not committing one of its own was a 31-30 win by Detroit over Dallas on Oct. 27, 2013. Collectively, NFL teams have won 98 of the last 100 games that fit that scenario.

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First-year DE Howard Jones turned in one of the game's biggest plays in overtime when he pulled QB Matt Ryan down for a sack and forced a fumble that could have ended the game. Atlanta managed to recover the loose ball, but the Bucs' defense finished off the Falcons on fourth down two plays later.

DT Gerald McCoy pressured Ryan into an errant throw on that final fourth-down attempt; though it was not a sack it was still a decisive moment for McCoy. Ryan enjoyed good protection for most of the game, as the veteran passer completed 37 of 45 passes for 397 yards and two touchdowns. The Bucs' pass-rushers were credited with 10 quarterback hits, including three each for McCoy and DT Henry Melton. Melton also had three hits on QB Kirk Cousins in the Buccaneers' previous outing. The last Buccaneer to have at least three quarterback hits in consecutive games, or a total of six in two back-to-back outings, was McCoy in 2013. McCoy recorded three QB hits against Atlanta on Nov. 17 of that season and four more the next at Detroit on Nov. 24.

However, the aforementioned sack by Jones was the only one the Buccaneers would complete against Ryan on Sunday. While the Bucs' four takeaways were definitely a harbinger of success, such a lack of sacks is usually not associated with victory for the team. In fact, the last time the Buccaneers won a game in which their defense recorded fewer than three sacks was the same 2013 game at Detroit mentioned above. Following that, the Buccaneers lost 18 straight games in which they failed to collect at least three sacks, before snapping that streak Sunday in Atlanta.

The Falcons also rang up 496 yards of offense on Sunday, the ninth-highest single-game total ever surrendered by the Buccaneers and the most since New Orleans recorded 511 yards against Tampa Bay last Oct. 5. The Bucs lost that game, 37-31. The 496 yards allowed by Tampa Bay on Sunday mark the third most the team has ever allowed in a victory and the most it has ever surrendered in a road win. Here are the five highest yardage totals allowed by the Buccaneers in games they won:

Opponent

Date

Yards

Outcome

  1. vs. Minnesota

10/7/80

543

W, 35-31

  1. vs. Philadelphia

10/22/06

506

W, 23-21

  1. at Atlanta

11/1/15

496

W, 23-20 (OT)

  1. vs. Kansas City

11/7/04

459

W, 34-31

  1. vs. New Orleans

10/16/11

453

W, 26-20

Even more unlikely was the Buccaneers winning in a game in which they did not force a single punt. Actually, there's no historical correlation for the Buccaneers between that occurrence and wins and losses because that was the first such occurrence in franchise history. Previously, the record for fewest punts in a game against Tampa Bay was one, with 17 such outings. Coincidentally, the most recent of those seven games was versus Atlanta on Nov. 25, 2012. That game also happened to be the first one in Falcon history in which their team did not punt a single time.

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The Buccaneers have protected the ball extremely well over the last three games despite having a rookie starting at quarterback. Jameis Winston, in fact, has been the catalyst for that strong run, throwing 86 straight passes without an interception (including his last nine in a Week Four loss to Carolina).

While that's a long way from the team record in that category – Jeff Garcia was interception-free for 197 straight passes early in the 2007 season – it's still quite impressive for a rookie passer. In fact, it's the second-longest streak of passes without an interception by a rookie in franchise history. Mike Glennon set the record in 2013 with 139 straight.

Winston drove the Buccaneers 68 yards on 15 plays to set up a 31-yard field goal by Connor Barth to open overtime. That proved to be the game-winning drive when Tampa Bay's defense subsequently got a stop near midfield. It was the first game-winning drive of Winston's young career. It also marked just the third time that a rookie quarterback had led the Buccaneers to an overtime victory. Josh Freeman did it most recently in a 20-17 win at New Orleans on Dec. 27, 2009. Steve Young did it first with a 19-16 victory against Detroit on Nov. 24, 1985.

Winston converted three third downs on that final drive with passes to Chris Sims, Mike Evans and Adam Humphries. That allowed the Buccaneers to sustain the drive long enough to get into field goal range for the winning points. In terms of plays, it was the longest overtime drive in the Buccaneers' 40-year history, and one of just four that was at least 10 plays long. Those four drives:

Opp./Date

Plays

Drive Result

Outcome

@ATL, 11/1/15

15

Field Goal

W, 23-20

@CHI, 9/21/08

12

Field Goal

W, 27-24

@NO, 12/27/09

11

Field Goal

W, 20-17

CAR, 9/14/03

10

Punt

L, 12-9

Winston scored the Buccaneers' final points before overtime himself when he rushed for a four-yard touchdown on third-and-goal in the third quarter. Winston also scored on a keeper in the Bucs' win at New Orleans in Week Two, which makes him the first Buccaneer rookie quarterback to score two rushing touchdowns in one season. He set up that drive with a 21-yard scramble, the longest run by a Bucs QBsince Josh Freeman broke off a 25-yarder against Dallas on Dec. 17, 2011.

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Kicker Connor Barth's 31-yard game-winning field goal in overtime was his third successful kick in three tries in Sunday's game. The last one was also his 100th field goal made as a Buccaneer. Barth continues to stand as the most accurate field goal kicker in team history, upping his percentage to 85.5% (100 of 117) on Sunday.

Barth has made all nine of his field goal tries since returning to the team in Week Five. In fact, he has attempted and made exactly three field goals in each of his three games since rejoining the team. That makes Barth the first Buccaneer kicker to hit at least three field goals in three consecutive games since Matt Bryant did it against Dallas (Oct. 26), Kansas City (Nov. 2) and Minnesota (Nov. 16) in 2008. Bryant did miss one of his 10 attempts during that run; Barth is the first kicker in franchise history to make at least three field goals in three consecutive games without missing a single kick.

Barth has scored 35 points in his three games with the Buccaneers this season, for an average of 11.7 points per contest. He is second in the NFL in points per gamesince returning in Week Five. Here are the top five during that span:

Player

Team

Games

Pts.

Pts./Game

  1. Blair Walsh

MIN

3

37

12.3

  1. Connor Barth

TB

3

35

11.7

  1. Caleb Sturgis

PHI

3

34

11.3

4t. Stephen Gostkowski

NE

4

44

11.0

4t. Brandon McManus

DEN

3

33

11.0

Barth's second field goal of the game moved him past Bryant, the Falcons' current kicker, into third place on the Buccaneers' all-time list for field goals made. He also passed both Bryant and Donald Igwebuike to move into fourth on the team's all-time scoring list.

Buccaneers Career Field Goals Made

Player, Seasons

FGs

  1. Martin Gramatica, 1999-2004

137

  1. Michael Husted, 1993-98

117

3. Connor Barth, 2009-12, 2015

100

  1. Matt Bryant, 2005-08

98

  1. Donald Igwebuike, 1985-89

94

Buccaneers Career Points Scored

Player, Seasons

Points

  1. K Martin Gramatica, 1999-2004

592

  1. K Michael Husted, 1993-98

502

  1. FB Mike Alstott, 1996-2006

432

4. K Connor Barth, 2009-12, 2015

418

5t. K Matt Bryant, 2005-08

416

5t. K Donald Igwebuike, 1985-89

416

Including time spent with the Chiefs and Broncos, Barth is 125 of 145 on his career, for a success rate of 86.2%. Since the start of the 2011 season, he has been the second most accurate field goal kicker in the NFL, and he trails the first-place kicker by a very slim margin. Here are the top five:

Kicker

Team

Made

Att.

Pct.

Dan Bailey

DAL

128

141

90.8%

Connor Barth

TB, DEN

78

86

90.7%

Stephen Gostkowski

NE

147

163

90.2%

Justin Tucker

BAL

116

130

89.2%

Matt Bryant

ATL

124

140

88.6%

Those five definitely got the job done in Week Seven, as they were a combined 17-for-17 on field goals. Barth also remains one of only five active kickers who have made all of their career extra point tries,after hitting on both attempts in Atlanta. Bailey and Tucker are also on that list, as are Ryan Succop and Nick Folk.

**

The three critical third downs the Buccaneers converted in overtime helped the team finish six-for-13 in that category on Sunday, for a success rate of 46.2%. That's an area in which Tampa Bay's offense has seen marked improvement after starting out the season with nine conversions in its first 40 attempts (22.5%). Since then, the Bucs have been successful on exactly half of their attempts, 26 of 52, over a four-game span. They have been consistent, as well, converting more than 45% of their tries in each of those four games. Statspass tracks third-down data back through the 1991 season, and the Bucs' current run marks just the second time they have been over 45% successful on third-down attempts for four straight games. Here's the previous streak, in 2006:

Date

OPP

Made

Att.

Pct.

11/19/06

WAS

6

13

46.2

DAL

5

10

50.0

PIT

7

14

50.0

ATL

8

17

47.1

Perhaps even more impressively, Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers have been most effective on third downs when the game is on the line, at least during this four-game run. During the first three weeks of the season, the Buccaneers converted third downs in the second half or overtime at a 19.0% rate (four of 21); over the last four games that has gone up to 51.6% (16 of 31).

The Buccaneers benefited from five penalty first downs in Sunday's game, marking the second time this season they've hit that total. Tampa Bay also moved the chains thanks to a penalty five times in their Week Two win in New Orleans. This is not a common occurrence; Sunday's game was just the ninth time in team history that the Bucs have had five or more penalty first downs in a single game, and the team record is only six (vs. Kansas City, Sept. 5, 1993).

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