Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Game Awards: Buccaneers vs. Falcons

Who got this week's game ball?


Game Ball: Rookie LB Kwon Alexander gets it for the first time, and that comes with an official endorsement from veteran guard Logan Mankins. Mankins presented Alexander with an actual game ball in the locker room after the victory, noting the rookie's incredible perseverance in the face of the death of his brother on Saturday morning. Alexander forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass, setting up 10 of the Buccaneers' 20 points in regulation. The forced fumble and fumble recovery came on the same play (more on that below), and they added to his team-high 11 tackles. Alexander's interception near midfield late in the first half was a major momentum-changer, as the Bucs were clinging to a 6-3 lead and the Falcons were driving for a matching or go-ahead score. Instead, Alexander's takeaway gave the Bucs possession at midfield and they drove 50 yards for a touchdown to take a 13-3 lead into halftime.

Play of the Game: Alexander's first takeaway almost looked like a bit of sleight-of-hand. After Atlanta took the game's opening drive for a field goal and the Bucs had to punt from midfield on their first possession, the Falcons were threatening to take over the game early. WR Julio Jones caught a quick slant over the middle and split the Bucs' defenders, breaking into the open field. Alexander was one of two Buc defenders who converged on Jones at midfield, and as the receiver began to somersault in the air Alexander simply reached in and pulled the football out of his grasp. The Bucs' rookie 'backer then took off in the other direction and got to the Atlanta 21 to set up a game-tying field goal.

Turning Point: The Buccaneers won the coin toss to start overtime and thus had the first possession. After converting an early third-and-three, they faced third-and-10 at their own 31, and the very real possibility that they would have to punt it back to the Falcons. Given the new rules of overtime, Atlanta would have only needed a field goal at that point to win the game. Rookie QB Jameis Winston rendered that moot with a 14-yard strike to WR Mike Evans to keep the drive alive. The Bucs would convert three different third downs on that march, and while they couldn't quite get the last one in the end zone, they still put the pressure on Atlanta's offense with a go-ahead field goal.

It Was Over When: DT Gerald McCoy grabbed QB Matt Ryan's legs and began to pull him to the ground on fourth-and-seven from the Falcons' 42. Ryan somehow managed to get a pass off before he hit the turf, but it fell incomplete and the game was over.

Photos from Buccaneers vs. Falcons at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

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