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Week 6 Game Recap: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 29, Atlanta Falcons 34

What you need to know

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs performed well on offense in both the run and passing game, but just couldn't stop Matt Ryan and the Atlanta offense. The Bucs drove down near the Atlanta red zone at the end of the game, but couldn't quite find the end zone on one last desperate play that saw Winston scramble, then pitch the ball to Humphries, who pitched it to Evans, then Jackson where it was eventually forced out of bounds around the Atlanta 5 yard line. Tampa Bay fired defensive coordinator Mike Smith after the game. To add to their defensive woes, Tampa Bay lost Gerald McCoy late in the 4th quarter to a calf injury.

Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta riddled the inexperience Buccaneers secondary for big yardage and easy throws during the first half, which opened the ground game on the edges as well as a cutback touchdown run by Ito Smith. Austin Hooper earned an easy score on a delay route where he acted as a blocker on a potential screen and Mohamed Sanu scored on a 35-yard over-route, breaking a tackle inside the five to extend across the goal line. Atlanta ‘s offense stalled on three consecutive series during the third quarter and they punted each time. However, Ryan found Hooper and Jones for big plays off play-action and then hit Tevin Coleman on a bootleg pass in the red zone to re-establish a two-score lead in the middle of the fourth quarter but the defense gave up another score and it took a 59-yard field goal by Matt Bryant—a risky coaching decision with 80 seconds left—to preserve the lead.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

QB Jameis Winston, 66 offensive snaps, Pass: 30 - 41 - 395 - 4 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 5 - 31 - 0
Winston had a big fantasy day as the Bucs fell behind early and spent the game trading touchdowns with Matt Ryan. Winston wasn't hitting on much downfield, but did manage four short touchdown passes as he worked short and medium routes. Winston capped the Bucs' opening drive off with a touchdown to Cameron Brate. The tight end split out to the left slot and worked his way into the end zone against a linebacker in coverage, where Winston hit him just over the pylon for the score. Winston led another scoring drive at the end of the 1st half, capping it off with a touchdown pass to OJ Howard. The big tight end lined up on the right side of the formation with two other receivers and worked his way across the goal line on a crossing route. Winston found Godwin for an easy touchdown in the 4th quarter, using play action from a goal line set to draw the defense in after several hard runs from Barber on the drive. Winston found Barber for his final touchdown late in the 4th quarter, taking the ball from a shotgun formation while Barber chip blocked and worked his way into the end zone, where he was wide open for an easy reception.

Winston's first interception was a poor throw by the quarterback. Desean Jackson had a couple of defenders running with him step for step and Winston launched a deep ball right into the arms of a safety over the top. His second interception was an equally poor decision as Winston launched the ball towards Chris Godwin, who was triple-covered in the back of the end zone. The ball was tipped straight up and Atlanta wound up securing it before it hit the ground.

Winston showed off his nimble footwork, scrambling to extend several plays. He faked a handoff and rolled out right to pick up a 3rd and 3 in the 2nd quarter. He took a big hit out of bounds on a 3rd quarter scramble, drawing a flag for a personal foul. Winston finished the day as Tampa's second leading rusher with 31 yards on 5 official carries.

RB Peyton Barber, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 82 - 0, Rec: 4 - 24 - 1 (4 targets)
Barber got the start and the majority of the snaps in the backfield. Ronald Jones made just a few brief appearances to relieve him, and Jacquizz Rodgers only played special teams. Barber ripped a 28 yard run off right tackle on his second carry of the 1st quarter, his longest of the season. He got involved in the passing game early, catching a checkdown out of the backfield for a 9 yard gain in the 1st quarter. Barber got a goal line carry from the 2 yard line in the 3rd quarter, but was stonewalled at the line of scrimmage. The Bucs were backed up by a false start penalty on the next play and Winston threw an interception on the next, killing the drive. Barber peeled off another nice run at the end of the 3rd quarter, taking a pitch around the left end and juking several tacklers for a gain of 20 yards. Barber's hard running kept the Atlanta defense honest, and the Bucs used a play action pass from a goal line set to get WR Godwin wide open at the end of an early 4th quarter drive. Barber caught a screen out of the backfield later in the 4th, then capped the drive with a short touchdown reception. Winston took the snap from the shotgun and Barber chipped a defender with a block, then worked his way out of the end zone where no one covered him.

RB Ronald Jones II, 12 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0, Rec: 3 - 16 - 0 (3 targets)
Jones was used sparingly in relief of Barber. He didn't see the field until late in the 2nd quarter. Jones carried the ball once for a short gain, then caught a halfback screen on the next drive that picked up 10 yards. Winston hit him again out of the backfield on the next play for a short gain. Jones caught one more short out route late in the 3rd quarter, but didn't see many snaps behind Barber in the 2nd half.

WR Chris Godwin, 37 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 56 - 1 (9 targets)
Godwin tied with Jackson for a team-high 9 targets, working all over the field in a variety of routes. Godwin caught a quick slant on Winston's first pass attempt of the game. He caught a short out route for a minimal gain in the 2nd quarter. Godwin was the target on Winston's second interception, but there wasn't much he could do as the QB made an ill-advised pass into triple coverage in the end zone. Godwin got blown up trying to bring the ball down, and Atlanta secured the pass after it popped straight up into the air. Godwin scored early in the 4th quarter, working his way open in the end zone as Winston faked a handoff to Barber from the 8 yard line. Godwin made an amazing save on a pass that Cameron Brate bobbled several times later in the 4th, plucking the ball from the air while two defenders dragged Brate to the ground.

WR DeSean Jackson, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0, Rec: 4 - 77 - 0 (9 targets)
Jackson drew a team-high 9 targets. He didn't catch his first pass until late in the 2nd quarter, securing a big gain up the seam. Winston found him on a deep comeback route up the right sideline for another solid gain in the 4th quarter. Jackson got wide open on a deep crossing route later in the 4th, picking up 21 yards as the Bucs tried to battle back. Jackson had a step on his defender for what would have been a touchdown on the next drive, but Winston overthrew him badly in the end zone. Winston found him once more on the final drive of the game, connecting on a medium crossing route underneath Atlanta's prevent defense. Jackson carried the ball once in the 3rd quarter on an end around run that picked up 7 yards.

WR Mike Evans, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 58 - 0 (5 targets)
Evans did what he could with his opportunities in a week that saw Winston toss only 5 targets his way. He made an athletic diving catch for a 19 yard gain early in the 1st quarter. He hauled in another out route to set the Bucs up in the Atlanta red zone late in the 2nd quarter. Winston hit Evans on a crossing route inside the Atlanta 10 yard line early in the 4th quarter. Winston found him once more up the seam on Tampa Bay's final desperate drive, as Atlanta was playing prevent coverage and leaving the short and medium routes open. Evans was not targeted in the red zone in week 6.

WR Adam Humphries, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 82 - 0 (4 targets)
Humphries nearly had a touchdown in the 3rd quarter, as he got loose on a crossing route from the left slot and picked up 51 yards on a run after the catch. Unfortunately, he was tackled at the 3 yard line. The Bucs whiffed on the opportunity as the drew a false start penalty and turned the ball over with an interception. Humphries caught a short out route in the 4th and managed to turn the corner up the sideline for another solid gain. Winston hit him one final time on the Bucs' final drive of the game.

TE O.J. Howard, 34 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 62 - 1 (4 targets)
Howard came back from a brief absence for an MCL sprain and did not appear limited at all. He scored at the end of the 2nd quarter, lining up in line on the right side of the formation and working his way across the field against physical coverage from a linebacker. Howard caught the pass with his defender draped over his back and then pushed his way into the end zone. Howard picked up 21 yards on a corner route in the 3rd quarter, then secured a deep curl route for another nice gain up the seam on the next play. Howard caught another crossing route near the Atlanta 5 yard line in the 4th, but was tackled before he could reach the goal line.

TE Cameron Brate, 22 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 15 - 1 (1 targets)
Brate scored on the Bucs' opening drive. He split out into the left slot and worked his way into the end zone against a linebacker in coverage, hauling in a strongly contested pass just over the pylon. Brate drew one last target in the 4th quarter, bobbling it badly as a defender drug him to the ground. Chris Godwin made a heads-up play, snagging the ball as Brate went down. The catch was officially ruled a "target" for Godwin, making Brate's early touchdown his only official target of the day. OJ Howard drew several targets and scored a touchdown of his own.

TE Antony Auclair, 23 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets)
Auclair worked limited snaps in the tight end rotation. He had a short reception on the Bucs' opening drive, but wasn't heard from after that.

Atlanta Falcons

QB Matt Ryan, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 31 - 41 - 354 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 13 - 0
The quarterback distributed the ball twice to Calvin Ridley, once to Julio Jones, and once to Austin Hooper with short passes before finding Mohamed Sanu on an over route in stride for a 35-yard score. Ryan threw the ball too deep in the second quarter on a play-action route to Julio Jones that was wide open but Jones read the safety correctly and Ryan didn’t. Ryan delivered three passes of 17,17, and 16 yards to Hooper, Justin Hardy, and Jones within 30 seconds to drive the field and set up a half-ending field goal to extend its lead to 11 points. Ryan began the second half poorly. He tried to pitch a ball while falling and nearly pitched it behind Tevin Coleman. He misfired on a short pass and then delivered an ill-advised screen on third-down. Ryan took a sack from Jason Pierre-Paul on an inside rush on third down to force a second punt in as many drives during the third quarter. Ryan began the fourth quarter with a play action boot to the left for a big gain to Jones then unloaded a deep pass that he underthrew to the receiver on the next play.

RB Ito Smith, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 22 - 1, Rec: 2 - -1 - 0 (2 targets)
He lost yards trying to reverse field on a toss to the right side that was cut off by Gerald McCoy’s penetration. Ito Smith earned a touchdown on a run untouched up the backside after the Buccaneers put two defenders in the same gap and left a cutback lane open for Smith. He earned another easy gain of six yards on a toss to the left before shut down on a third look to the left. The Buccaneers shut down Smith in the third and early fourth-quarter with better gap discipline. He picked his way for a short gain on third and one for a first down midway through the fourth quarter but was stuffed for less than one on a run inside to try to exploit the loss of Gerald McCoy earlier in the drive. Smith decided to run across a zone on a route where he was the check-down at the left flat and Ryan led him into a defender for a stuff but it was Smith who should have stayed settled in the zone rather than run.

RB Tevin Coleman, 38 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 35 - 0, Rec: 1 - 6 - 1 (2 targets)
He earned an easy six yards off right tackle to begin Atlanta’s first series from an I-formation set. Coleman earned a strong cutback on a run to right end and gained 19. Ryan targeted Coleman on a seam route against Brent Grimes in the end zone but overthrew the route. The Buccaneers stretched out Coleman late in the second quarter for a short gain. Coleman earned a combined 20 yards on a pair of pitches to each side of the field on consecutive touches in the third quarter. Coleman earned a bootleg target for a score in the middle of the quarter to hold serve and regain a two-possession lead.

WR Julio Jones, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 10 - 143 - 0 (14 targets)
He earned a quick throw-out during the first drive and made the first man miss for 10 yards during the first drive. Jones caught a slant during the second drive for a short gain. He followed up on the next play with a crossing route for a 10-yard gain on 3rd and 9 against linebacker Kwon Alexander. Julio Jones flattened an out route due to coverage on a play-action pass during the second quarter but Matt Ryan threw it more like a sail route as if the defensive back wasn’t over top and that created an overthrow. Two plays later, Jones lost Brent Grimes on a corner route to reach the Tampa nine. Jones earned 16 yards over the middle with 6 seconds left to set up a half-ending field goal to extend its 8-point lead to 11. Jones earned another slant on third down for a quick conversion of a third down. Jones earned a big gain on an out route off a play-action boot leg early in the fourth quarter. Jones was underthrown on a deep route to the end zone on the next play.

WR Justin Hardy, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 33 - 0 (7 targets)
He earned a one-on-one up the seam towards the end zone but was overthrown during the second drive of the game. He earned a quick seven yards on a short out from the slot with Atlanta backed up inside its own one yard-line during the second quarter. He earned 17 yards in an empty zone with 12 seconds left. Hardy dropped a slant late in the third quarter.

WR Calvin Ridley, 7 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 47 - 0 (3 targets)
He earned 15 yards on a third-and-short, play-action slant route during the opening drive. He earned another catch on an out to the left sideline late in the drive. He earned a third catch against off coverage on a comeback route for 20 yards. He injured his left ankle and had both ankles taped early in the second quarter. He was labeled questionable to return.

WR Mohamed Sanu, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 46 - 1 (2 targets)
He scored on his first target, a 35-yard over route that many tight ends run in other offense but often given to Sanu, who ran by his coverage up the right seam and then broke a tackle inside the five to stretch for the goal line. Sanu earned a third-down conversion, winning an option route with a one-handed grab in the second quarter. Sanu missed the second half with a hip injury.

WR Russell Gage, 6 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (1 targets)
Displayed good quickness on a trips screen where he hurdled a defender for a nine-yard gain to setup a third and one in the fourth quarter.

TE Austin Hooper, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 71 - 1 (10 targets)
Hooper earned five yards on second and six on a route breaking back to Matt Ryan over the middle. The Buccaneers stuffed Hooper on a tight end screen when the defense out-flanked the three blockers trying to set up the screen. Hooper then earned 14 on third down with the safeties dropping three-deep and well beyond the sticks. Hooper earned a deep out against and oiverwhelemed cornerback misplaying zone for a 17-ayrd gain. Most of Hooper’s targets were routes underneath facing the quarterback. He earned eight on a 1st and 25 in the third quarter on a route like this one. Hooper dropped a third-down pass near midfield after stumbling during his break and forced a third punt in the quarter. Hooper caught key third-down pass up by two points with a linebacker wrapped around him at the marker