Our Tampa Bay Buccaneers are now 2-0 in this young 2021 season after plucking the Atlanta Falcons 48-25 Sunday in Raymond James Stadium. It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t perfect, but it was enough to get a win, and that’s all that counts.
Even though they have won their first two games of the season and ten straight going back to last year, this team is still struggling with discipline and consistency issues that could eventually cost them their win streak. Maybe there’s a bit of a mental hangover from the Super Bowl win that they just need to get out of their system. Eventually, they will. I just hope they do it soon before the penalties and mistakes cost them a game. With that being said, let’s get into the Good, Bad, and Ugly of the Bucs game against the Falcons.
The Bucs were able to fend off a 15 point third quarter from Atlanta to come up with another win to get them to 2-0 and keep them tied for first place with the Carolina Panthers in the NFC South division. Dating back to last year, Tampa Bay has now won six straight regular-season games and ten straight games in all, including the playoffs. They’ve only had one other 2-0 start in the last decade, which was in 2018 when they finished with a 5-11 record. This sets them up for a big matchup with the 2-0 L.A. Rams next week, which will be the NFL’s ONLY matchup of undefeated teams in Week 3.
The Buccaneers have now scored 30+ points in nine straight games, which is a new NFL record. The previous record was eight, which was done twice by Tom Brady-led Patriot teams. They have scored 44+ points five times in the last year, which matches the number of 44+ point games in their entire 44 year history before that. Their 79 points in these first two games are the most ever by a Bucs team.
Raymond James Stadium was once again sold out, and what a difference it makes. “The Krewe” was loud and disruptive and helped cause Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense call timeouts on a couple of occasions. It seems as though that home-field advantage that’s been missing from that stadium for so long is finally back. And it’s back with a vengeance.
“The GOAT” was impressive once again, showing that he has a total grasp and control of this Buccaneers offense by completing passes to ten different receivers in this game, finishing 24 of 36 for 276 yards and 5 touchdowns and NO INTERCEPTIONS. In the first two games, he has now completed 65% of his passes for 655 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. That’s the most touchdowns he’s ever thrown in his first two games in 22 seasons, including 2007 when he threw 50 of them. Those nine touchdowns are also the most of any 2-game stretch in Buccaneers history. Dating back to Week 16 of last year, Brady has now thrown 4+ touchdowns in four consecutive regular-season games, which ties Dan Marino for the second-longest streak in NFL history. Peyton Manning did it five games in a row during the 2004 season. And speaking of Manning, he and Brady are now tied, with 35 games of 4+ touchdowns, for second-most in NFL history.
“The Ballhawk” came up with two HUGE defensive plays in the fourth quarter of this game to help seal the win. His two “pick-sixes” were the first by any NFL player since the 2012 season. He’s also just the third Bucs player to do it, with Ronde Barber doing it twice and Dwight Smith also did it in the Super Bowl. The Buccaneers only had one defensive touchdown in all 20 games last season.
This guy may not show up on the stat sheet as much as some other players, but NOBODY on the Buccaneers defense has been more disruptive or wreaked more havoc than this guy. He has been destroying the interior of the opposing offensive lines through these first two games, and I feel like he needs some recognition for it.
The genius behind the Tampa-2 defense; became the 14th member of the Buccaneers Ring of Honor in Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. There’s not a more deserving coach in franchise history. He spent 13 seasons as the defensive coordinator in Tampa, with his defenses finishing in the top ten in yards allowed 11 times and points allowed 12 times. That includes eight top five rankings and two #1 rankings. His 2002 defense that helped win Super Bowl XXXVII is widely considered to be one of the best in NFL history.
The 3rd Quarter
As I mentioned earlier, the Falcons outscored the Bucs 15-7 in the third quarter of this game. The defense couldn’t get off the field and the offense couldn’t stay on it. That all led to Atlanta pulling to within 3 points of Tampa Bay with a score of 28-25, a stadium full of nervous fans, and a pissed-off Bruce Arians. The Bucs eventually pulled their heads out of their asses and blew the game wide open with a 20 point fourth quarter, but they can’t have quarters like that third if they want to beat the Rams next week.
The Bucs, once again, had issues with penalties and mental errors in this game, finishing with nine of them for 83 yards. Through two games, they are tied for second-most in the league, averaging 10 penalties for 95 yards per game, after averaging just 5 penalties for 42 yards per game just last season. They’ve got to get this stuff cleaned up before it ends up costing them a win.
The Bad Calls
The penalty flags have been an issue so far this season, but there were a few calls in this game that were questionable at best. Ryan Jensen was flagged for a personal foul after jumping into a pile; in an attempt to push running back Leonard Fournette forward for more yardage. It was a close call, especially live, but it was a costly one. Instead of having 3rd & 5 from the Falcons 8 yard line, it pushed the Bucs back for a 3rd & 20 from the Falcons 29 yards line. The next play was the strip-sack by Fowler and the fumble by Brady that was recovered by Atlanta.
The second bad call was the “offsides” by Shaq Barrett in the third quarter. It did appear as though he was offsides in real-time. However, when you see the replay, it was simply Shaq perfectly timing the snap of the football. That play took the scoop and score by Devin White off the board and kept the Falcons drive alive, which led to a field goal. That’s a ten-point swing from one bad call.
The next one wasn’t really so much a bad call as it is just a bad rule in general. After his second pick-six, Mike Edwards was hit with a “taunting” flag for his excessive celebration. The call didn’t affect the game at all, but I still think it’s a stupid rule that the NFL needs to take a long, hard look at in the near future. Taunting and talking shit is a part of sports. Just because the cancel culture crowd of this generation gets their feelings hurt with every other word these days doesn’t mean that we should change the culture of sports.
I can’t really say that the defense was “ugly“; they did make the big plays and stepped up when it counted at the end of the game. However, the inconsistency needs to stop. If this defense wants to be considered “elite“; then they need to start performing for all four quarters. They are currently ranked 21st in scoring defense, 22nd in total defense, and 30th in pass defense. 31st in sack % and 27th on third downs. I know they’re missing their #2 cornerback right now, but that’s no excuse. They need to be better. They know that. Hopefully, they step up next week and do it.
The 2021 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still getting to know each other. We still haven’t seen this team reach their full potential on offense. They might be #1 in scoring offense, but they’re ranked 13th in total offense, 5th in passing offense, 29th in rushing, and 13th in Red Zone offense.
INCONSISTENCY IS THEIR ISSUE.
If this team could play to their potential, both offensively AND defensively, then they would be tough to compete with. If this team wants to succeed in their run to win back-to-back titles, then they need to start performing up to that potential for the entire game and not just the first and fourth quarters. They’ve beaten a decent Cowboys team and a struggling Falcons team so far. Now they have their first true test of the season in the 2-0 L.A. Rams. We’ll see how they do with their first and only west coast trip of the year on Sunday.
Until then, as always, GO BUCS!!!