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Week 13 Game Recap: Atlanta Falcons 19, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23


What you need to know

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons only had four series in the first half due to prolonged Tampa Bay drives featuring the Buccaneers ground game against a 10th-ranked Atlanta defense that was No.1 prior to last weekís demolition of that statistical illusion by Adrian Peterson. Atlanta stacked the box against Doug Martin and couldnít stop him. In contrast, Atlanta had multiple pairs of carries where they had a positive gain to the perimeter followed by a stuff for a loss up the middle on the next. Atlanta only attempted one deep route in this game, a first-quarter play-action throw-back to Jacob Tamme up the left sideline, but Ryan overshot the wide open tight end. After that Atlanta stuck to short passes and relied on its backs, tight end, and receivers to earn yards after the catch and peppered a few intermediate targets to Julio Jones off play-action on first downs. This game plan earned them four consecutive field goals during the second and third quarters. The Buccaneers limited Atlanta with timely blitzes of linebackers, sacking Ryan multiple times and stalling drive, including a red zone opportunity in the second quarter. The Buccaneers responded to a Matt Ryan touchdown pass on a bootleg drag route to Nick Williams with a long touchdown drive to retake the lead and Matt Ryan threw the game-sealing interception to Lavonte David over the middle, who dropped far enough to cut off Julio Jones with 1:30 left, ending the game. The Falcons lost this game in part because the offense couldnít control the middle of the field consistent enough with the run or containing pressure to put positive plays together to extend drives.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Austin Seferian-Jenkins returned from the shoulder injury that had him sidelined since week 2. Brandon Myers was left inactive in the wake of his return, leaving ASJ, Cameron Brate, and Luke Stocker as the 3 active tight ends. Tampa Bay's offensive approach was balanced, picking up 11 first downs on the ground and 10 through the air. On the day, Tampa Bay was 6 for 11 on 3rd down conversions, with no 4th down attempts. The offensive line did a great job protecting Winston and opening up lanes for the running game. The Bucs' tight ends and receivers also showed strong effort in their blocking. Tampa Bay's defense was without stud DT Gerald McCoy, but managed to heckle Matt Ryan enough to throw him off his game and ultimately seal the victory with an interception.

Tampa Bay attempted a 2-point conversion in the 3rd quarter after taking a 13-12 lead on a Doug Martin touchdown run. The attempt failed. Kicker Barth completed his 1 field goal attempt from 23 yards and made both extra point attempts.

Atlanta Falcons

QB Matt Ryan, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 30 - 45 - 269 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0
Ryan faced pressure throughout the game thanks to successful blitzes up the middle by Buccaneer linebackers. One drive was stalled inside the 10, resulting in a field goal and the other three drives that didnít result in punts during the first half ended with field goals. Ryan and the Falcons offense could move between the 20s because of the short passing game, but once the field was compressed, the Buccaneers pressure hastened Atlantaís timeline. Even when Ryan bought time while flushing from the pocket, the defense did a good job covering Ryanís receivers. One of these plays was a third-down throw to Julio Jones in the first half off a scramble, but Jones was well-covered at the end line and the receiver couldnít rebound the defenderís tip of the ball. The one touchdown Ryan had was a play-action bootleg to the right with a drag route to Nick Williams in the fourth quarter to take the lead. This drive was successful thanks to a hurry-up scheme. But beyond the predictable skinny posts to Jones, there wasnít another player who could beat man coverage and these dump-offs could only get Atlanta within scoring range, but not punch it in. Ryanís game-sealing intercept for Tampa was a predictable crossing route for Jones that Lavonte David anticipated with a deep drop and cut off. Although Ryan has been inaccurate in the vertical game and he has made mistakes, until Ryan has time to throw the ball deep without play-action and a receiver capable of beating man coverage emerges whose last name isnít Jones , this offense is going nowhere.

RB Devonta Freeman, 48 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 47 - 0, Rec: 10 - 56 - 0 (11 targets)
Multiple times throughout this game, Freeman would earn a quality gain to the edge and then Atlanta would try the middle and get stuffed for a loss. Atlanta could not generate consecutive gains on the ground and the Falcons went more to the short passing game. Freeman was a prominent part of that equation, earning 100 total yards, but is longest gain of the day was a 14-yard run. He had a 10-yard gain called back due to a holding call by Roddy White, which has become a common issue in multiple contests. Freeman still looks good, but defenses have figured out that Atlanta doesnít have enough on offense to keep them from selling out against the run in timely down and distance situations.

RB Tevin Coleman, 11 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 13 - 0, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets)
The best play of the day for Coleman was a timely recovery of a strip sack of Matt Ryan at the two-minute warning in the second quarter in the red zone. He had two quality runs in this game and one of them was a 10-yard gain during hurry-up mode in the fourth quarter. The other two came in the red area late in the first half. The first was a five-yard gain where he spun off a hit at the left edge. The next carry was a two-yard loss when he was run down by the backside pursuit.

RB Patrick DiMarco, 23 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (2 targets)
The fullback continues to see more opportunities as an outlet option on passing downs. He caught a 3rd and 7 circle route from the backfield on the first drive, hauling it to his inside shoulder a few yards down field while Ryan was under pressure. Good job getting most of the yards for the first down. He then gained 9 on a 3rd and 11 with a minute left in the half, but had his progressed stopped by two defenders at the end of the run. Heís used enough that he could earn a red zone target, but heís not a weapon to rely on.

WR Julio Jones, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 93 - 0 (17 targets)
Once again, the Falcons failed to target Jones deep. The biggest plays came on skinny posts off play action or deep slants. It was enough for Jones to have a reasonable fantasy day, but nowhere near what heís capable if the offense could take advantage of his deep speed and skill to win the ball in coverage. Jones is a rebounder of a wide receiver and one of the best at it, but the offense is more precision-based than rebounding based. The best opportunity Jones had to score was an improvised route to the end line after the Buccaneers flushed Ryan right, but the coverage trailing Jones knocked the ball loose and Jones couldnít haul in the rebound.

WR Roddy White, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 33 - 0 (4 targets)
Itís fascinating to note that there have been three games where White has committed a penalty in the run game and within two plays of the penalty that nullified a nice run White would earn his first target. This time it happened in the second half after he held on a Freeman run of 10 yards and two plays later he got open over the middle up the right seam for a 21-yard reception. He had two more reception and was a minor, but timely factor in moving the chains on meaningful drives. Justin Hardy: The rookie hasnít earned many targets against tight man coverage or even tight zone, but his first target came on a slant from the slot against Alterraun Verner. The ball was on-time but Hardy dropped the pass and forced a punt. His caught two crosses against open zones later in this game: a six-yard reception for an 11-yard gain during the second series and then a 23-yard gain on 3rd and 11 later in the contest. Until he can prove he can beat tight coverage, heís not a consistent fantasy factor.

WR Nick Williams, 10 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 5 - 1 (2 targets)
The slot receiver is becoming a red zone factor. He caught a drag route on a play-action boot right for the score to end a hurry-up mode drive with 11:00 in the game to give Atlanta the lead. He was also targeted on a pivotal 3rd and 7 while up by three late in the game. It was a route over the middle against a blitz up the middle and Matt Ryan lacked the time to make an accurate throw. Williams almost maintained control with a sliding catch on a bad target that left Ryan yelling at the sideline and his offensive line. This forced a punt and Tampa scored on the next drive to win the game.

TE Jacob Tamme, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 26 - 0 (4 targets)
The biggest play of the game could have been a play-action throw-back from Ryan rolling right and throwing up the left sideline. Tamme was wide open, but Ryan overshot the throw by 5-7 yards on this initial series for Atlanta. The rest of Tammeís plays were underneath routes. He caught a drag route off boot action left for a first down inside three minutes of the half then a short pass to get inside the 20 for a third and 1 set up a field goal early in the second half. Later he got inside the five on the rollout from a hurry up early in fourth quarter for 11 yards inside the five. Heís a frequently used option, but very hit-and-miss in the red zone and when open in the deep-intermediate range, Ryan consistently misses him.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

QB Jameis Winston, 71 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 27 - 227 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 5 - 15 - 1
Winston completed 18 of 27 passes for 227 yards, with 1 TD and 1 INT. He was only sacked once. He also had a rushing TD on a beautiful scramble in the 1st quarter. On the Atlanta 6, with 3 tight ends lined up split out to the right in a bunch and 1 WR split out wide left in a single back set, Winston took the snap from under center and rolled out right. The 3 tight ends cleared out and Winston turned the corner on a couple of hotly pursuing defensive linemen, diving into the end zone for the score. Winston was efficient with his passing, spreading the ball around and leaning on strong running from Doug Martin and Charles Sims. Winston's interception was more Mike Evans' fault than his own. Winston was leading the offense on a last minute drive in the 1st half when Evans let a curl route bounce off of his hands into the arms of CB Desmond Trufant. The pass was a little high, but Evans got both hands on it and the ball certainly looked catchable. Winston was intercepted again in the 4th quarter when another passed bounced off of Evans' hands, but CB Desmond Trufant was flagged for pass interference on the play for wrapping Evans up before the ball got to the receiver.

Winston had some real magic working late in the 4th quarter. On 3rd and 19, he took off on a scramble, and appeared to be tackled well short of the 1st down marker. However, the two defenders who brought him down fell underneath him, preventing his knee or elbows from touching the ground, so Winston rolled off the pile and took off for the 1st down, setting the Bucs up deep in Atlanta territory. Winston found Evans on the right sideline for the go-ahead touchdown a couple of plays later, giving the receiver just enough room to make a diving catch before sliding out of the end zone. Lavonte David intercepted the ball on the first play of Atlanta's next drive to seal the victory for the Bucs.

RB Doug Martin, 49 offensive snaps, Rush: 25 - 95 - 1, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (2 targets)
Martin, who surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark last week, ran the ball hard all day, picking up extra yards after contact and often converting 1st downs every 2 carries or so. Tampa's bell cow carried the ball for the Bucs' first 6 offensive plays of the game and totaled 25 carries for 95 yards on the day. Martin got the Bucs inside the Atlanta 10 yard line with a nice run and facemask penalty in 1st quarter, setting up Jameis Winston's touchdown scramble. Martin drew a 2nd defensive facemask penalty on an 8 yard run in the 3rd quarter.

Martin leaped over the offensive line and into the end zone on his 1 yard touchdown plunge in the 3rd quarter.

The only real blemish on Martin's day was a lost fumble in the 3rd quarter while fighting hard for extra yardage. 1 of the 3 defenders dragging him to the ground managed to punch the ball loose, and Atlanta recovered just moments after the Tampa Bay defense had forced a 3-and-out. Martin was benched for a handful of plays after the fumble. Martin ripped off a 30+ yard run late in the 4th to take the ball down inside the Atlanta 5 yard line, but the play was called back because of an offensive holding penalty. Martin had 1 reception for 5 yards, lining up wide right in a 5WR empty backfield set in the 2nd quarter. He had 14 yard gain negated by penalty in 1st quarter.

RB Charles Sims, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 56 - 0, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (3 targets)
Sims saw limited carries but was effective, turning 7 totes into 56 yards. He secured 2 of 3 targets for 21 yards in the passing game. Caught his first target of the day for a gain of 18 on an out route out of the backfield, breaking a tackle and slipping up the sideline. Had another 5 yard reception negated by penalty in the 1st quarter. His 2nd reception of the day was a HB screen out of the backfield that picked up 3 yards. Sims recorded his biggest run of the day during Tampa Bay's first 3rd quarter drive, taking the ball right up the middle for 25 yards behind great lead blocking by Luke Stocker, who was lined up at the H-Back. The offensive line also got a solid push and Mike Evans had a great downfield block on the play. Nearly scored during the same drive in the 3rd quarter on 3rd and 2 from the Atlanta 12 yard line. Sims took the handoff up the middle and spun off two tacklers as he picked up the first down. He recovered his balance enough to plunge forward toward the goal line, but another defender brought him down just before the ball broke the plane. Doug Martin took the handoff on the next play and "vultured" the 1 yard TD. Sims replaced Martin for half a series or so after Martin's lost fumble.

RB Bobby Rainey
Rainey handled his usual kickoff and punt return duties, losing 1 kickoff return to Donteea Dye in the 3rd quarter. He had a nice 28 yard punt return in the 3rd quarter to set the Bucs up in good field position for a field-goal scoring drive.

WR Mike Evans, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 61 - 1 (7 targets)
Evans had a typical day, letting one pass bounce off his hands for an interception in the 2nd quarter but ultimately catching the game-winning touchdown at the end of the 4th. He secured 5 of 7 targets for 61 yards and as score, drawing a couple of penalties and getting flagged once himself. Evans narrowly missed a big gain on his first target, a deep post in the 1st quarter. Winston threw a laser into tight coverage that Evans was able stretch and pull down on the run, but he dropped the ball while securing the catch. Had a nice gain of 14 on an out route during the first quarter for his first reception, lined up wide right. Evans recorded another gain of 10 on an out route in 2nd quarter. Evans had a beautiful toe-tapping grab on the right sideline as the for a gain of 17 on the Bucs' last drive of the 1st half. Evans also showed great body control on the sideline catch for the go-ahead touchdown at the end of the 4th quarter. Evans lined up on the left side of the line and took off across the end zone, where Winston found him with just enough space for a diving catch on the right sideline. Linebacker Paul Worrilow, tasked with covering Evans on the play, never had a chance.

Evans is somewhat to blame for Winston's interception at the end of the 1st half. Winston threw the ball a little high on a short curl route, but Evans was able to get both hands on hit. Unfortunately the ball careened out of his grasp and into the arms of CB Desmond Trufant for the pick. He had another interception bounce off his hands in the 4th quarter, but CB Trufant was flagged for pass interference on the play after grabbing Evans around the waste before the pass. Evans was called for an offensive pass interference penalty in the 3rd quarter on a play-action deep ball.

WR Vincent Jackson, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 87 - 0 (5 targets)
VJax worked outside and occasionally in the slot, converting 5 targets into 3 catches for 87 yards. Early in the 2nd quarter he lined up in 3WR set on left side of line, ran a deep curl route and shook his defender after the catch, then darted up the left sideline for 36 yards, his biggest gain of the day. Vjax had another gain of 30 in the 3rd quarter on a deep corner route, lined up slot right in a 4WR set on the reception.Jackson had another nice gain of 21 yards on a deep crossing route near the end of the 4th quarter. Vjax was targeted in the end zone in the 3rd quarter on a short out route, but coverage was tight and Winston couldn't thread the needle.

WR Adam Humphries, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets)
Slot man Humphries continues to see plenty of offensive snaps, but saw his targets dwindle with ASJ and Vjax both back in the lineup and Cameron Brate emerging as a short to intermediate receiving option. Humphries was targeted by Winston on a 2-point conversion attempt in the 3rd quarter, but the pass was overthrown in the back of the end zone. He caught 1 short pass for 6 yards on Tampa Bay's last drive of the 4th quarter.

WR Donteea Dye
Dye was active after being inactive in week 11. He returned one kickoff for a minimal gain and did not see significant snaps on offense.

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, 21 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 31 - 0 (6 targets)
ASJ was limited in his return and showed some rust, seeing the field for 21 of Tampa Bay's 71 offensive snaps. He secured 3 of his 6 targets for 31 yards. ASJ got to work early, catching his first target on the team's 2nd drive of the game for a gain of 15. He was overthrown by Winston on an open out route in 1st quarter, lined up inline. He again got open on a deep corner route on that was overthrown by Winston in the 2nd quarter. ASJ caught a short curl route for an 8 yard gain at the end of the 2nd quarter, and secured his final pass late in the 4th quarter on a short comeback route.

ASJ dropped what would have been a beautiful touchdown pass from Winston in the 3rd quarter. The ball just went right through his hands as he found the open zone on a skinny post route from the Atlanta 5 yard line. Winston put the pass on the money, but the TE couldn't hold on for the score.

TE Cameron Brate, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 12 - 0 (2 targets)
Brate, signed to the team back in September, has played his way to a roster spot now that starter Seferian-Jenkins is back. Brate has a touchdown in each of the last two games and is showing some real chemistry with Winston. Brandon Myers was forced to inactivity as Luke Stocker was kept as the third tight end. Expectedly, Brate lost some of his receiving workload with ASJ back in the lineup. He secured both his targets for 12 yards on short check-down routes.

TE Luke Stocker, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets)
Operated primarily as a blocker, both inline and in the backfield as a fullback and H-back. Had a great lead block to spring Charles Sims for the biggest rushing play of the day in the 3rd quarter. Stocker secured his only target of the day, a short out route from the left inline TE position for a gain of 4 yards.