DT Anthony McFarland and the Buccaneers stopped the Falcons' offense last season, but Jamal Anderson wasn't in the Atlanta backfield
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers certainly know what can be done with a 4-4 record.
Last year, Tampa Bay had this same .500 mark at the halfway point, and they went on to win seven of the last eight to finish at 11-5 and win the NFC Central. Unfortunately, the coincidence of those numbers will do nothing to deliver victories this season; to barrel down the second half in 2000, Tampa Bay will have to earn this crucial game in Georgia.
The Bucs' last visit to the Georgia Dome was a positive one, a fairly easy 31-10 win in 1997. Since then, however, the Falcons have achieved what the Bucs' seek, making it to Super Bowl XXXIII the next season. Though their fortunes in the two seasons combined have dipped back down, those Falcons still have many of the ingredients of the that Super Bowl team, including RB Jamal Anderson, former Buccaneer QB Chris Chandler and WR Terance Mathis.
Tampa Bay defenders have focused on two things throughout the weekend: the power running game of Jamal Anderson and the Falcons' propensity to go for long plays. The Bucs blitzed Minnesota QB Daunte Culpepper relentlessly last Sunday; should they pursue the same approach today, Atlanta will be hoping to take advantage with the quick strike. Of course, another very possible outcome of that approach would be a bushel of sacks, as the Buccaneers are averaging almost five QB takedowns per game. The Falcons, in addition, have allowed 32 sacks of their signal-callers.
Last year, Tampa Bay won eight of its last nine games after starting out 3-4. When the Buccaneers of 2000 opened up 3-4 again, then defeated the previously unbeaten Minnesota Vikings handily last Sunday, thoughts of another streak were hard to suppress. It wasn't hard for Head Coach Tony Dungy, we should amend. No matter how cliché you believe the point to be, Dungy wants his team to take the rest of the season one week at a time. After all, says Dungy, you can't win five in a row without winning two in a row.
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