Until the last frame in the Week Five division showdown – where the Bucs' defense allowed 15 unanswered points by the Falcons – Todd Bowles' crew dominated. The Buccaneers held the Falcons scoreless in the first half, their first time not allowing any first-half points since December 26, 2020, at Detroit. The unit forced punts on five of the Falcons' first six drives. Through three quarters, Tampa Bay's defense imposed their will on third down as pass rushers were unleased. The menacing force tallied five sacks collectively, with nickel corner Antoine Winfield Jr. and outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka spearheading the performance inside Raymond James Stadium.
On the Falcons' opening offensive possession, Winfield Jr. and Tryon-Shoyinka sparked the surge. From second-and-five, Winfield outpaced Tyler Allgeier to the sideline, tackling him for a loss of four yards. Four plays later, Tryon-Shoyinka drew first blood. With a highlight-worthy spin move, he faked to the inside and twisted to the outside for a third-down sack on Marcus Mariota for a seven-yard loss. Even more impressive considering Tryon-Shoyinka's penetration came from a three-man rush, where down linemen typically sit and hold the line of scrimmage. The play killed the Falcons drive, forcing the opposition to punt.
"I was able to just do what I wanted to do," Tryon-Shoyinka smiled. "I set him up inside and went outside. That is probably the cleanest sack I have had in my career – in my life – so, I like that one."
Throughout the course of the game, Tryon-Shoyinka's pursuit forced Mariota into a hurry-up mode. Late in the second quarter, it was Winfield's time to strike. From second-and-ten, Winfield sacked Mariota on a corner blitz for a loss of eight, punching the ball out in the process. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, Mariota was able to recover the fumble at Tampa Bay's 34-yard line. Winfield led the team in tackles with seven and consistently wreaked havoc near the line of scrimmage. He also accumulated two tackles for loss and a pass defensed, adding to an impressive Week Five resume.
"I was having fun," Winfield exclaimed. "I love playing football and whenever I get a chance to make plays, that is my goal and that is why I am here."
In Tryon-Shoyinka's first year in a full-time role and Winfield's debut campaign in 2022 as the nickelback, both have been catalysts on the field, bolstering the Bucs' defense. Against the Falcons, three other Bucs added to the mix. Rookie defensive lineman Logan Hall forced a third-quarter punt with a takedown of Mariota, and defensive linemen Vita Vea and Deadrin Senat registered sacks.
"I don't think we executed in the third quarter," said Bowles. "The first half we kept their defense on the field; the second half, our offense kept going three-and-out and they kept our defense on the field. I think fatigue set in for both sides. Tough ball game. Wins are hard to come by in this league. We were playing for first place and we're happy we got it."