Tampa, FL – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers battled to and 21-15 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. The win moves Tampa to the top of the NFC South division standings.
The game continued a streak in where Tom Brady has never been defeated by the Falcons.
Brady drew for 351 yards and his Running back Leonard Fournette piled on 139 yards in 10 carries and one touchdown in the game.
The Buc’s vaunted defense powered through and had Falcon quarterback Marcus Mariota running for his life from the five sacs from the Buccaneer’s defense.
Mariotta relied on his legs and and rushed for 61 yards including one play for 23 yards and a first down for Atlanta. Mariotta lead the Falcons in rushing.
The Bucs are coming off of a two game losing streak at home after losing to Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs in the previous home game. The Bucs kept Brady’s streak of never losing to Atlanta, as well as not losing three games in a ow consecutively in decades.
“Obviously, it’s tough to lose two straight at home. You have to earn it in the league. There are no easy games, You’ve got to play good,” said Brady, who hasn’t lost three straight starts since 2002 with the Patriots.
“Five games in and we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Brady added. “We’re not nearly at the point of where we’re capable of being.”
Brady threw 52 passes for the second game in a row and topped the 300-yard mark again, completing 35 passes for 351 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He did so largely by working underneath against a Falcons defense that was taking away the big play and the between-tackle runs.
Bucs receiver Mike Evans provided the two big plays of the game, a lunging 25-yarder down the sideline in the second quarter that set up Fournette’s first touchdown and the 40-yarder noted above.
Tampa’s defense shut the Falcons out in the first half, and kept them to a total of 89 yards for the whole game. Atlanta did have a chance at a 52-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo shortly before halftime that came two plays after a sack of QB Marcus Mariota , but the the kick missed.
“It was huge,” said Head Coach Todd Bowles. “We needed every point we could get. Having them get backed up and not make a field goal helped us a lot.”
“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.”
Mariota pulled the Falcons within one score with a 19-yard touchdown pass to WR Olamides Zaccheaus in the fourth quarter. The visitors successfully went for two after that score, setting up a potential game-winning touchdown drive if they could gain possession again, setting up a 21-15 score.
However, the Buccaneers gained four first downs on the ensuing possession to drain the clock, including one on a 12-yard burst by Fournette up the middle. A defensive-holding call on CB A.J. Terrell and a roughing-the passer flag on what would have been a sack by DT Grady Jarrett erased two bad third-down outcomes and Brady delivered the final blow by going to Evans on third-and-five for a sliding nine-yard catch over the middle of the field. The Buccaneers then kneeled it out to finish the game, but that was one of five drives in the game that lasted 11 or more plays, including three in a row in the first half.
Next, the Buccaneers play at the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, October, 16th.