Quarterback Jameis Winston overcame two first quarter interceptions to throw three touchdowns including one to defensive tackle Vita Vea, to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7) to a 35-22 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Winston, who threw his other two touchdown passes to wide receiver Chris Godwin, recorded his sixth straight 300 yard game in helping the Buccaneers beat the Falcons for the first time in their last six meetings.
Atlanta won the opening coin toss, elected to receive & for the third straight game scored a field goal on their opening drive. The key play on the drive was on the second play from scrimmage in the game when Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan hit tight end Jaeden Graham, who was starting for injured tight end Austin Hooper, with a 53 yard pass play. Ryan followed that completion with a 15 yard pass to wide receiver Calvin Ridley. But the drive stalled inside the 10 yard line & kicker Younghoe Koo made good on a 25 yard field goal to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead.
Tampa Bay's first possession didn't go as well as Atlanta's first time with the football & actually looked similar to previous games when on his first pass of the game, Winston threw a pass intended for wide receiver Mike Evans that was intercepted by cornerback Desmond Trufant.
The turnover gave the football to the Falcons just outside Buccaneers territory. But after getting the ball inside the Buccaneers 40 yard line, the Falcons had to punt the ball away. And after the Buccaneers started inside their own five on their next drive, on a second & six play, Winston hit Chris Godwin with a pass across the middle. And after securing the pass in between two defenders, Godwin scampered into the end zone for a 71 yard touchdown catch making the score 7-3.
On the Falcons next possession, Ryan hit wide receiver Julio Jones with a 31 yard pass to convert a third down play. But that drive stalled just outside of field goal range & the Falcons punted the ball away. But on their next drive, the Buccaneers gave the ball right back to the Falcons again deep in their own territory when Winston threw his second interception of the game. The pass, which Winston had to jump to throw, was thrown behind running back Dare Ogunbowale & intercepted by linebacker De'Vondre Campbell. Winston, who finished the game with 313 yards, leads the NFL with 20 interceptions.
The second turnover of the game gave the Falcons the ball inside the redzone & led to the Falcons taking the lead again. After a third down scramble by Ryan for a first down, running back Qadree Ollison finished the drive with a one yard run.
With the score now 10-7, the teams exchanged scoreless possessions, but after getting the ball back just inside their own territory, the Buccaneers took the lead back with a 51 yard drive that ended with another touchdown by Godwin. The drive was set up wit a 30 catch by Godwin, who had seven catches in the game & ended when the wide receiver one handed a pass that was thrown behind him for the one yard touchdown play.
The Falcons deficit was three not four because kicker Matt Gay missed the extra point but their next drive totaled only 19 yards. And although the Buccaneers started their next drive on their own five, they went 95 yards on 11 plays. The drive was sparked by a third down pass play for 44 yards from Winston to wide receiver Breshad Perriman. That play got the Buccaneers inside the Falcons territory. And their offense moved the ball to the one where they used an unconventional way to get another touchdown. On a second & goal play from the one yard line, Winston threw a touchdown pass to Vea. Vea, who was used as an extra blocker in goal line situations earlier this year, was lined up in the backfield as a lead blocker & led out to the right & caught Winston's pass to give the Buccaneers their second 90 plus scoring drive in the first half.
The half ended with Tampa Bay leading 19-10 & with the exception of the two interceptions by Winston plus two missed extra points by Gay, they dominated the first 30 minutes of the game. The Buccaneers gained 276 total yards & converted on four of their six third down attempts in the first half, with Winston throwing for 235 yards & Godwin totaling 151 receiving yards. And their lead got even bigger after the first drive of the second half, when Winston led another long drive. His offense went 75 yards on the drive which included a 24 yard scramble out of the pocket by the quarterback & two runs by running back Ronald Jones, with the last one being a four yard touchdown run.
Because of another missed extra point by Gay, his third, the Falcons trailed 25-10 but were only able to add a 40 yard field goal by Koo before the end of the third quarter. And less than three minutes into the fourth quarter, the Buccaneers got those three points right back when Gay made good on a 32 yard field goal.
Trailing by 15 points again, the Falcons were able to move the ball but once they got into the redzone they again were only able to get three points. And after the Falcons got the ball back several times with the game winding down, Ryan was forced to drop back on each play, which set up a defensive touchdown by the Buccaneers. On a third down & five from his own 15 yard line, Ryan was sacked & stripped by linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul. The fumble was picked up on the six yard line by Ndamukong Suh & the defensive lineman rumbled into the end zone for his second defensive touchdown this year.
Atlanta backup quarterback Matt Schaub, who replaced Ryan with just over three minutes left in the game, threw a 21 yard touchdown to Ridley for the game's final score.
Tampa Bay hits the road again seeking their first two game winning streak of the season when they take on the Jaguars in Jacksonville on Sunday. Kickoff is scheduled for 1PM.