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Takeaways from Buccaneers-Falcons | Week 7

Top observations from the Buccaneers 16-13 loss to the Falcons in the Week Seven divisional clash


The Atlanta Falcons outlasted the Buccaneers with a 16-13 victory on Sunday, culminating in a 51-yard Younghoe Koo 51-yard walkoff field goal. In a low-scoring predominant defensive showdown between division rivals, the Bucs fell to 3-3 on the season and forfeited first place in the NFC South to the 4-3 Falcons. With 45 seconds on the clock in regulation, the Bucs tied the game at 13 with a Chase McLaughlin field goal after a 31-yard scramble by Baker Mayfield. The Falcons then answered with one of their own to ice the win on the road. Desmond Ridder connected with Kyle Pitts for a 39-yard gain, which put the team in field goal range and Koo capitalized. 


Throughout the 60-minute battle, the Buccaneers tallied nine penalties for 66 yards. The club was littered with flags – including four for 25 yards in the first quarter (three false starts) – which put the Bucs behind the chains. The self-inflicted wounds pre-snap were costly and consistently put Tampa Bay in unfavorable down-and-distance situations. 

"We had more penalties than the law allowed, offensively," said Todd Bowles. "All three phases had a hand in it. We've got to be held accountable on all accounts." 

Bowles stressed following the game that penalties will be an increased focus from a coaching standpoint during practice to eliminate them during games. On a quick turnaround, the Bucs have a few days to make adjustments before heading northeast to Buffalo. 

"We've made enough mistakes to even focus on us," described Bowles. "We can't play Buffalo plus Tampa. We got to get Tampa under control before we can handle Buffalo, so we focus on us." 

Defensive Production 

The Buccaneers defense only allowed one of Atlanta's five drives inside the red zone to result in a touchdown. The unit gave up a two-yard touchdown run to Desmond Ridder in the first quarter, and the Falcons would have had several others if not for the pursuit of Antoine Winfield Jr. The Bucs' safety single-handedly turned two would-be touchdowns into a field goal. Winfield broke up a pass in the end zone intended for Drake London during the second quarter and he punched the ball out of Desmond Ridder's hand at the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter, forcing a touchback after the ball bounced through the end zone. Winfield flew across the field with determination to punch out the ball before Ridder could cross the goal-line. He never gave up on any singular play and Winfield's tenacity on the field ignited the unit's efforts. 

"It was a heck of a play," described Bowles on Winfield. "If we have everybody play like that, we will be fine." 

In the second quarter, the Bucs had another key stop. Atlanta reached Tampa Bay's 11-yard line, but the visiting team was no match for the Bucs' penetrators. Rookie Calijah Kancey flew past the guard with first-step quickness and shot through the A-gap, hitting Ridder. Shaq Barrett came off the edge and aimed at the football, knocking it free. Bucs' cornerback Jamel Dean recovered the strip, putting Baker Mayfield and cast back on the field. 

 Overall, the Falcons finished the game with 401 yards of total offense, converting on seven of 13 third-down attempts. The Bucs were stout against the run game in the first half, allowing just 43 yards to Atlanta. However, in the second half, misfits and undisciplined play led to 156 yards on the ground for the Falcons, with Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson serving as the beneficiaries (115 yards combined). The Falcons went into a hurry-up mode and found success, ultimately winning the chess match at Raymond James Stadium.

"They [were] subbing in really fast, doing a lot of tackle over, and pulling people backside," noted Devin White. "We [were] adjusting on the fly, it was something we hadn't seen on film, and that was why they were able to crease us. We were running blitz's to where we thought they [were] running the ball, they [were] running it opposite, so we had kind of play a mind game with them. We ended up finding our defense at the end that we wanted to run to stop them. We [had] a couple of stops when we needed to get the ball back to the 'O' [offense] because we found the defense to run. Other than that, it was a good game plan by them. Our coaching staff adjusted to it well. I mean, that's how football goes."

 Offensive Overview 

The Buccaneers' offense posted just one touchdown against the Falcons on their home field. Mayfield lobbed a 40-yard bomb, hitting Mike Evans in-stride on a go route against A.J. Terrell. Evans set him up and exposed the cornerback off a lean, then accelerated north to generate separation. Tampa Bay never found the end zone again, coming up short in critical moments. In the fourth quarter, the Bucs had driven to the Falcons' 15-yard line, but Richie Grant intercepted a pass, abruptly ending the drive. Then, the Bucs drove to the Falcons' eight-yard line but had to settle for three points after a couple incompletions and a sack. Mayfield finished the afternoon completing 27 of 42 passes for 275 yards, one touchdown and an interception. He was sacked three times and faced pressure in the pocket. Rachaad White made an impact in the passing game, catching six passes for 65 yards. White showed off his slash-style out of the flat, working the boundary to pick up RAC yards. Evans racked up 82 yards with physicality at the top of routes and Chris Godwin, who became a threat underneath and on speed out's, totaled 66 yards. Tampa Bay was not able to kickstart the run game, accumulating 73 yards on the ground. Nearly half of that output came from Mayfield on one play, a 31-yard scramble. 

"We [have] to help out our defense," stated Tristan Wirfs. "They're holding teams under 20 points, [and] we have to put more points on the board for them… We all know this is a passing league, so if we are going to sling, let's sling it. You know, it's tough, because we want to get the run game going, we're putting a lot of emphasis on it, we're trying hard, [and] that's what's really frustrating. We are working so hard at it, and to see that hard work just kind of get tossed in the trash almost – you put in all that work all week, and then it doesn't work. That's really tough, and again, really upsetting. Like I said, we have 11 more games, and we'll keep doing the same thing, and can't have our mentality change. We just have to keep moving forward."

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