Falcons Control Their Playoff Destiny Following Their Victory Over The Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football
Looking at the schedule before the start of this season, this game had huge playoff implications all over it. Fast forward to today, and the Buccaneers are simply looking to play spoiler in a tight NFC South race.
The shortcoming and issues the Buccaneers have faced all season long were on display early on a night where the Buccaneers honored John Gruden by inducting him into the Ring of Honor. Once again, the injury bug was present for the Buccaneers, as J.R. Sweezy, Adarius Glanton, T.J. Ward, Justin Evans and DeSean Jackson were all lost in this contest. Despite the many losses, the Buccaneers appeared to have life in them against the defending NFC Champions.
In the first half of the game, the Falcons opened up a lead early by taking advantage of a depleted Buccaneers defense. Although the passing defense settled in as the game went on, no one on the defense had a game plan for Devonta Freeman. Freeman shined in the Monday Night Football spotlight. Freeman finished the night with 126 yards rushing and a touchdown. He also tallied a team high 68 yards receiving, and lost out on another touchdown to teammate Levine Toilolo who scooped up his fumble as he fumbled going into the end zone.
Despite a first-half turnover deep into their own territory early on, the Buccaneers were able to put themselves into a position to send the game into overtime. Jameis Winston kept the Bucs around all game with a 27-35, 299 yard performance. Winston and company answered the Falcons score on their second drive of the game with a touchdown pass to O.J. Howard. In the third quarter Down by ten, Winston found Mike Evans for a 42 yard touchdown despite double coverage.
Freeman then took over in the fourth quarter, and the Buccaneers were unable to stop him. freeman capped off his successful night with a 32 yard touchdown run that would prove to be the game winner. Winston did steer the ship in the right direction by following the Freeman touchdown up with his third touchdown pass of the game, this one to Adam Humphries.
On the following possession, Clinton McDonald would come up huge on third down, sacking Matt Ryan and giving the Buccaneers one last shot. With just 1:00 left on the clock and the Bucs trailing by three, Winston was able to give Patrick Murray a chance from 54 yards out, but his kick sailed wide right.
Next week the Buccaneers (4-10) try again to play spoiler in the NFC South as they take on the Carolina Panthers (10-4)
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