Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Rapid Reaction: Buccaneers 30, Falcons 17

The Buccaneers swept the season series with the Falcons and improved to 9-3 on the season thanks to a 30-17 win in Atlanta.

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The Falcons won the toss to begin the game, electing to defer and putting the ball in the hands of the Buccaneers' offense first.

Quarterback Tom Brady then proceeded to lead a 13-play, 75-yard drive to perfection that ended in seven points on the board after a three-yard touchdown pass to running back Leonard Fournette. The Bucs at one point went for it on fourth down and four on their way down the field but jumped out to an early 7-0 lead with 9:53 left in the first quarter.

Unfortunately, thanks to a 41-yard run by Cordarrelle Patterson, the Falcons would answer with a 17-yard touchdown of their own. It was running back Mike Davis in the end zone to make it 7-7 after just three minutes.

Tampa Bay's offense showed no signs of slowing down as they drove the field yet again behind two circus catches by both Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Godwin leapt up over his defender for 25 yards while Brady hit Evans on a fade down the sideline for 36 yards. A holding call on Rob Gronkowski in the end zone turned into first and goal at the Atlanta three-yard line for the Bucs. Brady then lobbed it up for tight end Cameron Brate who made the contested catch in the end zone for the score. Kicker Ryan Succop missed the extra point, giving Tampa Bay a 13-7 lead with 4:23 left in the first quarter.

Thanks to a third-down sack by Ndamukong Suh just as the Falcons were approaching midfield, the Falcons would punt away their next possession, giving the ball back to the Bucs with just over two minutes to play in the first.

The Bucs would trade a punt right back and Atlanta would take over at their own 25-yard line as the first quarter expired. The Falcons got as far as the one-yard line after a penalty gave them first and goal at the half yard-line and the Bucs' defense clamped down. The forced multiple incompletions and Ryan fumbled the snap on second down, forcing Atlanta to settle for the field goal. The Falcons cut the lead to 13-10 with 8:39 remaining in the first half.

Tampa Bay would get back on track on the next drive and get down the field thanks in no small part again to Godwin. This time, the ball ended up in the hands of Gronk over the middle but with no one in front of him after making the catch, he waltzed right into the end zone for a 27-yard score. It pushed the Bucs' lead to 20-10 with 4:54 remaining in the second quarter.

The Bucs' defense held up their end of the bargain, with Vita Vea recording his first full sack of the season on the first play of the drive. After being faced with third down and 14, Atlanta would get a break in the form of a holding penalty on the Bucs. They continued the drive but not for long as the Bucs' defense held around midfield, forcing the Falcons to punt with 44 seconds left on the clock before halftime.

As encouraging as that was, on first down of the ensuing drive, Brady went to throw a screen to Fournette but it was Falcons defensive lineman Marlon Davidson who jumped the route and got the pick-six. It meant the Bucs went into the locker room at halftime up just 20-17.

Atlanta got into Buccaneer territory on the opening drive of the second half but the Bucs' defense would cut that short thanks to cornerback Pierre Desir punching the ball out of Russell Gage's hands. It was recovered by cornerback Carlton Davis, the third of his career, and the Bucs' offense took back over at their own 37.

Unfortunately, Tampa Bay wouldn't be able to capitalize on the takeaway behind two straight incompletions and would punt the ball back to Atlanta with 12:21 left in the third quarter.

The Falcons got some momentum going on their next possession but still wouldn't get further than midfield again before having to punt the ball away thanks to another third down sack from Suh.

Then the Bucs' offense went to work yet again. They drove down the field thanks in large part to Fournette before Brady connected with Gronkowski on a 11-yard fade in the end zone for their second connection of the game. It moved them into sole possession of second-most regular-season touchdown connections in NFL history. It gave the Bucs a 27-17 lead with 29 seconds left in the third quarter.

Vea would get his second sack of the day, which was good for the first multi-sack game of his career, on Atlanta's next drive. It eventually forced the Falcons to punt yet again, giving the ball back to the Bucs' offense with 13:25 left in the game.

They wouldn't be able to do anything with their next possession and traded a punt right back to Atlanta with 11:28 to play.

The Falcons got to midfield again but couldn't get anything beyond that as defensive tackle Will Gholston almost got a sack on Ryan. Instead, Ryan just got the ball away but it was thrown into the dirt and did not reach the line of scrimmage, therefore resulting in an intentional grounding penalty. It took a third and two for the Falcons and turned it into fourth and 12 and Atlanta would punt it away with 7:25 left in the game.

The next drive was very kind to Godwin, who continued his production streak to breaking the franchise record of 13 catches in a single game. Not only did he match it but he surpassed it, setting his own. By the time the drive was over, Godwin had 15 catches on the day, which set a new Bucs' record. The drive ended in a 31-yard field goal by Succop to make the score 30-17 with 1:49 left in the game.

On the ensuing drive for Atlanta, Ryan would fire over the middle for Gage, who was tackled instantly by inside linebacker Devin White as the ball popped out. It was ruled an incomplete pass on the field and after a review, the referee ruled it a complete pass but that Gage's progress was stopped and he was down by contact. It allowed Atlanta to continue the drive as they crept to midfield. Ryan would complete a 30-yard pass to set the Falcons up at the seven-yard line and two seconds to run one last play. The ball was incomplete and the final score would remain 30-17.

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