One would have thought the Atlanta Falcons had some momentum following a shocking late first-half pick-six on Tom Brady to cut the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' lead to 20-17 at halftime, with an opportunity to take a lead after receiving the second-half kickoff. But after a second-half opening-drive turnover, the Bucs wrested control of the game in a closer-than-expected 30-17 win over the Falcons Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski gave the Bucs a 27-17 lead late in the third quarter with his second touchdown reception on a third-and-four fade pass from Brady. The defense held the Falcons scoreless in the second half, as Tampa Bay picked up its ninth win of the season.
Chris Godwin was the offensive star of the game for the Bucs other than Brady, with 15 catches, a Buccaneers record, and an NFL season high, with those receptions covering 143 yards. Brady was 38-for-51 for 368 yards and four touchdown passes, with that lone bad interception.
Speaking of that interception, instead of sitting on the ball deep in their own territory with 44 seconds left and two timeouts, the Buccaneers tried to get their two-minute offense going, but after a minimal gain on a wide receiver screen to Chris Godwin, the no-risk-it-no-biscuit philosophy of head coach Bruce Arians blew up on the Bucs, as Brady on second down tried a screen to Leonard Fournette that was returned for a pick-six by Falcons lineman Marlon Davidson with 22 seconds left in the first half.
The Bucs got that 20-10 lead, starting with efficient offensive play on their opening drive, not attempting even one run on an opening drive that covered 75 yards in 13 plays, ending in a three-yard reception by Leonard Fournette to open the scoring.
Atlanta tied the score on only six plays covering 75 yards, keyed by a 39-yard run by Cordarrelle Patterson and on the next play, a 17-yard touchdown run by Falcons back Mike Davis.
Tampa Bay took a 13-7 lead on the next drive, as they once again tore up the Falcons' secondary with a 25-yard completion to Godwin, followed by a 36-yard completion from Brady to Mike Evans, leading to another three-yard touchdown pass, this one from Brady to Cameron Brate. Ryan Succop doinked the extra point attempt off the left upright.
After a 21-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo cut the Bucs' lead to 13-10, Brady took the team down field again on a nine-play 75-yard drive, ending in a 27-yard touchdown from Brady to Rob Gronkowski.
Next Sunday, the Bucs face one of the bigger games on their schedule, hosting the Buffalo Bills at RayJay. WDAE's coverage starts at 2 pm, as Tom Krasniqi and Michael Clayton bring you the Countdown to Kickoff. That kickoff is slated for 4:25 p.m., and can be heard on our sister station 98ROCK.
Cover Photo: Getty Images