TAMPA, FL – In a battle for the top spot in the NFC South, the Atlanta Falcons visited the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday for a 1pm match up.
The Falcons, coming into the game with a 3-3 record for this season, while the Bucs are right there with them for a 3-2 record.
Tampa, coming off of a forgetful 20-6 loss to the Detroit Lions, were looking to upright their offense and get things going. Unfortunately, today was not the day.
Tampa Bay opened up with a stagnant first drive, making it 10 yards, but going for it on 4th and 5 on the Falcons 41 yd line and turning it over on downs.
Atlanta promptly went 58 yards for a score on a Ritter 2 yard rush for a 7-0 lead.
Tampa answered with fire, ending with a 40 yard strike from Mayfield to Evans for a tying touchdown.
These were the only touchdowns of the game, although Atlanta did have one called back when the ball was knocked loose from QB Desmond Ritter’s had as he attempted to flip into the end zone. It was ruled a fumble into the end zone and a touchback.
Tampa continued to struggle with their running game, rushing for 72 yards in the game, keep in mind, that includes a 32 yard scamper by Mayfield.
The Bucs did manage to break some nice runs off, but they were all called back on penalties.
The Bucs had 9 penalties for 66 yards, which was sadly comparable to the 9 penalties for the Falcons for 60 yards, but Atlanta had the offense to overcome.
Mayfield did try to make up for the miscues. He was a a lot more on point with his passes for most of the day than in recent weeks. He spread the ball out to over 9 receivers today, especially keeping Chris Godwin busy with 12 catches for 66 yards.
Mayfield did have on major miscue. The Bucs were driving and in the red zone and Mayfield tried to force a ball in to Godwin, who was covered, and the ball drifted to Atlanta safety Richie Grant to end the drive with qn interception.
Atlanta’s secondary didn’t give Tampa a lot of options. On many plays. Mayfield was searching for options, but the Falcons had everything blanketed, resulting in coverage sacks for Atlanta.
Both teams had relatively even stats during the game. Atlanta had 245 yards vs Tampa’s 256 in net passing, Time of possession was 29:59 – 30.01, and first downs was 20 to 21.
The difference was rushing.
Atlanta had 156 yard rushing, including a 34 yard run by Ritter, plus his short goal line scoring run. Tyler Algier rushed for 59 yards on 21 attempts, and Coredarelle Patterson added another 56 on 10 attempts.
Tampa is still frustratingly trying to get a solid running game going. Rachaad White managed only 34 yards on 13 attempts in the game, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn could only manage 12 yards in 7 attempts. It’s been a problem the whole season.
The story of the games was stops, starts, field goals and penalties.
Tampa managed to tie the game with little time left, after getting stopped inside the 10 yard line. The weakness of there short game was evident, and they had to settle for a filed goal to tie the score at 13 all, with 45 seconds remaining.
Atlanta came to the the deck in the shotgun formation, and Ritter managed to throw a strike to star tight end Kyle Pitts down the sideline for a 39 yard gain, putting them in field goal range. After tow runs that went no where, Falcon Kicker Younghoe Koo drilled a 51 yard filed goal to take the game, and the NFC South’s top spot.
Positives from the game for the Bucs:
The passing game appears tp be fixed. Though Mayfield made a few mistakes, his passing game was solid, Mike Evans seems to have taken care of his drops, and Mayfield is spreading the ball around.
But with no ball movement on the ground, and the penalties erasing a lot of the success that they were having, it’s like what coach Bowles said about heading into Buffalo this coming week: “We have to worry about Buffalo when we have to worry about Tampa. We can’t beat Buffalo and Tampa”.
the Bucs face off against the Buffalo Bills in Florian Park, New York for this weeks Thursday Night Football Game on October 26th.