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Week 17 Game Recap: Atlanta Falcons 28, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 22
What you need to know
Atlanta passed its way through the Buccaneers defense early and capped an opening play drive with a tackle-eligible touchdown pass to Ty Sambrallo up the seam for 35 yards. A Ronald Jones
fumble to lead off Tampa’s first drive set up a short field goal for Atlanta to earn an early 10-point lead. Matt Ryan
faced more pressure by the middle of the first quarter and it disrupted the intermediate and deep passing game through the rest of the game. Ryan was often forced to throw off platform and the Buccaneers tipped multiple passes. Four of Tampa Bay’s six sacks came in the first half and a Devin White fumble-return of Jason Pierre-Paul strip-sack for a touchdown. Ryan played tough in the second half, finding Julio Jones
with man-to-man routes in the short and intermediate range of the field and Russell Gage
with well-placed throws between shallow zone defenders. Devonta Freeman
broke multiple tackles for positive gains on stretch plays and tosses in the third quarter but Tampa’s pressure curtailed multiple Falcons’ drives. Still, Atlanta cut the lead to three points late and earned the ball for a final game-tying drive where Ryan repeatedly found holes in the Tampa zone while stepping away from pressure and targeting his younger options. On the first play of overtime, Deion Jones jumped a Jameis Winston
pass intended for Cameron Brate
on a top route at the Tampa 28 and housed the target for the game-winning score.
Devin White had a blazing 91 yard fumble return for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter. Kicker Matt Gay
was absolutely miserable, missing all three field goal attempts, one in the first quarter and two in the third. Jameis Winston
went full-Winston in what could be his final game as a Buccaneer, tossing a second quarter interception and then finishing the game with a pick-six on the first snap of overtime. Breshad Perriman
posted his third 100 yard receiving game in as many weeks since taking over lead receiver duties in the absence of Evans and Godwin. Tight end Cameron Brate
caught a short touchdown while OJ Howard was not targeted. Runningback Jones had an ugly fumble, but finished the game with Tampa Bay's first 100 yard rushing performance of the year. WInston joins the 5,000 yard passing club as well as becoming the first QB to toss at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in the same year.
|QB Matt Ryan, 89 offensive snaps, Pass: 30 - 51 - 313 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 0 - 0|
Atlanta’s starting quarterback moved the ball easily on the opening drive, spotting zone and man coverage situations quickly and getting rid of the ball fast. He found backup right tackle Ty Sambrallo as an eligible man on a seam route working inside Luke Stocker
and no one covered him. He took the ball the final 20 yards for an easy score to open the game. Ryan targeted Julio Jones
three times for three conversions of third downs during the first two drives of the game and began the game six for seven. Tampa earned pressure on consecutive plays during Atlanta’s third drive that led to an altered throw that the Buccaneers nearly intercepted and sack on the next play. These plays led to Atlanta punting. Pressure forced Ryan to throw the ball away on third and inches during the fourth possession and Atlanta went for it on fourth down, failing to convert the play with an I-formation give to the fullback that Matt Ryan
should have checked out of based on the alignment of the defense. Shaq Barrett sacked Ryan for a seven-yard loss—setting the Buccaneers’ single-season record on the play. The pressure disrupted Ryan’s intermediate and deep passing game during the late-first and early-second quarter. Ryan had an open Russell Gage
up the right sideline on a go route, but overshot the receiver by at least a yard. Ryan then took a shove to the chest as he released the gall intended for one of two receivers up the left flat of the end zone a few plays later that dropped behind the receivers near the end line. On the next play, Ryan targeted Hooper across the flat in the red zone but pressure forced him to throw off platform and into the dirt. Once again flushed on third-down, Ryan had to throw the ball away and lost track of the line of scrimmage, incurring an illegal forward pass foul and loss of down. Ryan took contact to his throwing arm from Pierre-Paul in the red zone on third down with about three minutes left in the half that Devin White recovered and returned for a touchdown, tying the game. The pressure continued on the following drive, forcing Ryan to throw on the retreat and he was behind Jones on the crossing route. Jones took an intermediate slant through two defenders on the next play after Ryan climbed the pocket, getting Atlanta across midfield. Two plays later, Ryan found Jones on a slant in tight coverage to reach the Buccaneers’ 20 with less than two minutes left. He overthrew Gage on a bubble screen and Tampa jumped the next route to defend a stop route intended for Gage once again. Pierre-Paul sacked Ryan again on the next play, forcing another field goal attempt. Pierre-Paul continued pressuring Ryan early in the second half, forcing a throw-away. Ryan took a hit while finding Hooper across the middle to get across midfield a few plays later. Ndamukong Suh’s deflected pass curtailed the drive and forced a punt. Ryan showed excellent placement between zone defenders, placing the ball behind Gage for a first down near midfield late in the third quarter. Ryan had another pass deflected early in the fourth quarter in the Tampa Bay red zone and the Falcons turned the ball over on downs. Hooper set up a third-and-short at the two-minute warning with a comeback against tight coverage as Ryan delivered the ball while flushing to his left. On the next play, Ryan climbed pressure but Shaq Barrett sacked Ryan. Ryan found Gage on a crossing route on fourth down and the receiver dipped way from the safety and extended for the first down near midfield to keep the drive alive. Barrett sacked Ryan for the third time on the next play. Ryan found a wide-open Justin Hardy
over the middle of a deep zone near midfield after the quarterback climbed the pocket with less than a minute left and Hardy worked across the field with less than 40 seconds left to stop the clock. Ryan then found Zaccheaus a second time on a slant for a first down at the Tampa Bay 27.
|RB Devonta Freeman, 54 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 58 - 0, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (4 targets)|
Tampa stuffed Freeman on a game-opening stretch play thanks to good penetration from the defense into the backfield. Freeman squeezed through a crease off right guard on the next play and bounced the play across the middle for a gain of 12, setting up a third and three. Once again the Buccaneers stuffed Freeman during the first drive with strong penetration at the edge on a toss play to the right for no gain. Freeman opened the second drive with a toss to the left for eight yards, leaping through contact at the edge for extra yards. He then took a toss right and avoided penetration deep into the backfield but slipped a few steps later while trying to cut downhill as he approached the boundary. Freeman earned a quick hitch from an empty set while split wide on third down inside the Tampa red zone during the second drive for Atlanta, getting dropped immediately with a hit in the back for a gain of four. He began the fourth drive with a three-yard gain on a bounce to left end that came off a great jump cut to avoid penetration into the backfield. He earned a quick four on second and one in the middle of the second quarter on a power play through an open crease behind left guard. Freeman made a pair of strong moves on third and short to earn a first down later in the drive. Freeman earned 12 yards up the middle just inside the two-minute warning, breaking a tackle and making two defenders miss. Freeman earned six yards and a first down on a toss left where he ran through two hits late in the third quarter. Freeman gained eight yards early in the fourth quarter on a cutback on a stretch play but slipped while trying to earn more. He earned 11 up the middle on a check-down late in the fourth quarter.
|RB Brian Hill, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 21 - 0|
He began the second half with a toss left where he outran the penetration and worked to the corner for a short gain. Hill earned seven up left guard midway through the fourth quarter to get across midfield. He followed up with another confident burst through a wrap for a first down and gain of at least 10.
He earned two carries in the Tampa red zone after a Ricardo Allen interception, bulling his way forward for five yards on the first and then slashing through the middle for another seven to get Atlanta inside the 10 yard-line. Ollison slipped on an attempt to bounce the play to the left on the following play and lost a yard.
|WR Julio Jones, 73 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 78 - 0 (13 targets)|
On third and three from an empty set, Jones ran a quick out and caught the ball at the far-side boundary to earn Atlanta’s first, first down during the opening drive of the game. He earned another first down during the drive on a fin route to the right flat against a dropping Nkamukong Suh for an easy gain across midfield. Jones converted his third, third-down with a quick dig route against tight man coverage with a physical turn through contact to get open inside the Buccaneers’ 15 during Atlanta’s second drive. Jones knocked away a deflected pass that arrived short of the mark due to pressure on Matt Ryan
from Jason Pierre-Paul to begin the third drive that forced the target shy of the mark. Jones earned a short dig and ran through two tackles to earn a third and inches early in Atlanta’s fourth drive. Jones stumbled out of his break on a second and goal late in the half and couldn’t reach the target. Pressure forced Ryan to throw behind Jones on a crossing route with two and a half minutes left in the half. Jones took an intermediate slant through two defenders on the next play after Ryan climbed the pocket, getting Atlanta across midfield. Two plays later, Jones made a diving catch with a defender on his back for a first down at the Buccaneers’ 20. Jones repeatedly left the field during the second and third quarters after tweaking his long-standing injury after the stumble on the red zone route late in the half but returned to the field after brief rests. Still, Jones limped throughout the second half of this game. Jones earned four yards on a crossing route late in the third quarter.
|WR Russell Gage, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 68 - 0 (13 targets)|
He took a quick screen from the left flat for a short gain through contact but Atlanta accepted an offside foul and played the down over. Gage tried to high-hurdle a defender on a third-and-long crossing route and took a massive hit on the way to the ground, only gaining seven on the play and Atlanta punted to end its third series. Gage got open up the right sideline on a go route later in the second quarter but Ryan overshot the receiver, who attempted to win the target with a full-extension dive. Ryan overshot Gage on a bubble screen and then the safety jumped Gage’s stop route on the next play with just over a minute in the half. Gage made a nice move on a third-down screen early in the second half, cutting across the grain for a first down after bouncing off indirect contact from a linemen in pursuit. Ryan showed excellent placement between zone defenders, placing the ball behind Gage for a first down near midfield late in the third quarter. Gage kicked off the fourth quarter with a good sit-down in the zone and then made the first defender miss for the first down inside the Tampa 30. Gage earned nine settling udner the zone to get inside the Tampa 25 midway through the fourth quarter. Ryan found Gage on a crossing route on fourth down with a minute left in the game and the receiver dipped way from the safety and extended for the first down near midfield to keep the drive alive. He caught a route at the right sideline with :29 left in the game at the Tampa Bay 15.
|WR Justin Hardy, 12 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 40 - 0 (3 targets)|
He earned seven yards on a scramble drill to the left flat while facing Ryan, who flushed left and check-down to the receiver in the second quarter to get into field goal range. He earned a first down on a crossing route later in the drive, finishing strong with good pad level at the boundary. Ryan found a wide-open Justin Hardy
over the middle of a deep zone near midfield after the quarterback climbed the pocket with less than a minute left and Hardy worked across the field with less than 40 seconds left to stop the clock.
He took a slant on 2nd and 17 for 11 yards after a Shaq Barrett sack in the second quarter, getting Atlanta near midfield. Ryan then found Zaccheaus a second time on a slant for a first down at the Tampa Bay 27 with less than 40 seconds left in the game.
Ryan overshot Blake on a quick out against man coverage midway through the fourth quarter.
|TE Austin Hooper, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 45 - 0 (9 targets)|
He earned his first catch early in the second quarter on a flat route outside the numbers where he extended fully on the run for a low pass that he caught in stride five yards downfield and turned up the sideline for a total gain of nine. Hooper nearly high-pointed a crossing route on 3rd and 6 in the middle of the second quarter but the tight coverage knocked the ball free. However, a roughing the passer foul negated the drop and earned Atlanta a first down pat midfield. Hooper caught the ball on a high target across the middle midway through the third quarter to get Atlanta across midfield. He earned a stop route late in the third quarter to earn a first down. Hooper only earned a few yards later in the drive on a middle screen before the quarter ended. Hooper caught an over route against zone and took a hit as he returned to earth to reach midfield midway through the fourth quarter. Hooper set up a third-and-short at the two-minute warning with a comeback against tight coverage as Ryan delivered the ball while flushing to his left.
|TE Luke Stocker, 37 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (1 targets)|
He earned a first down near midfield for 10 yards on a pass up the middle against a zone defense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
|QB Jameis Winston, 51 offensive snaps, Pass: 13 - 24 - 201 - 2 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - 5 - 0|
Winston had a record setting week, joining the "5,000 yard" club and becoming the first QB in history with 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. Winston and Perriman hooked up on a deep post route for a 24 yard gain in the 2nd quarter that boosted Winston past the 5,000 mark for passing yards on the season. Winston found Cameron Brate
on an easy out route for a short score on 4th and goal in the 2nd quarter. Tampa Bay got the ball back with less than a minute left in the second half, and Winston zeroed in on Perriman again, hitting him over the middle for a 31 yard gain. Two plays later, Winston heaved up a prayer to the back of the end zone, and Perriman came down with the ball between two Atlanta defenders for a 24 yard score just before halftime. Winston also scrambled off right tackle to pick up a two point conversion after Perriman's score.
Winston's first interception could have been a miscommunication with Justin Watson
, who Winston underthrew badly on a deep route up the seam in the 2nd quarter. Winston finished his season, and possibly his Bucs career, with a pick-six to end the game in overtime. Winston telegraphed a short out route to Cameron Brate
on the first play of overtime and linebacker Vic Beasley jumped the route, waltzing into the end zone to end the game.
|RB Ronald Jones, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 106 - 0, Rec: 2 - 10 - 0 (2 targets)|
Jones started his day off poorly with an ugly fumble on his first carry of the game that was totally due to his lack of ball security. He didn't get warmed up until the 3rd quarter, when he recorded his longest run of the day, a beautiful 33 yard run off right tackle in that saw him power through tackle attempts and tip toe the sideline. Jones then peeled off runs of 8, 25, 16, and 8 yards on Tampa Bays next offensive drive. Jones fumbled again late in the 4th quarter, but fortunately kicked the ball out of bounds in the process. Jones caught a swing route out of the backfield for a 10 yard gain later in the 4th. Jones finished the day with his first 100+ rushing performance of his career.
|RB Peyton Barber, 16 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 10 - 0, Rec: 2 - 25 - 0 (4 targets)|
Barber continues to fade as Jones seizes control of the backfield. He was out-touched 11-6 on the ground even though Jones struggled with ball security. Barber was stuffed on a goal line attempt in the 2nd quarter. He snagged a well-executed halfback screen for a 14 yard gain early in the 2nd quarter. Winston checked it down to him a few plays later for an 11 yard gain up the right sideline.
Ogunbowale got his usual passing-down work, but did not draw any targets this week. He carried once for 4 yards and returned a few kicks.
Perriman and Winston connected for a 37 yard gain down the left sideline on Winston's first pass attempt of the game. Perriman got open over the middle for another 19 yard gain at the end of the 1st quarter. Perriman roasted his defender for another 24 yard gain on an early 2nd quarter post route. Tampa Bay got the ball back at the end of the first half with just 54 seconds left, and Perriman pulled in two huge catches, the first a 31 yard gain over the middle, and the second was a 24 yard circus catch in the back of the end zone on a pass that was basically a hail mary from Winston. Perriman made a leaping grab between two defenders and secured the ball with one hand while tapping both feet down in the end zone before his other hand touched down out of bounds. Perriman ripped off another 44 yard gain in the 4th quarter, but had the gain called back because Winston stepped over the line of scrimmage as he was throwing the ball.
|WR Justin Watson, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 27 - 0 (4 targets)|
Watson struggled in this one as Winston locked onto Perriman. He was the target on Winston's first interception, which was pretty clearly a miscommunication between the two, with Watson stopping a route and continuing deep when Winston appeared to think he was cutting inside. Watson hauled in a short gain on a comeback route up the left sideline late in the 2nd quarter, then another comeback route for 10 yards late in the 4th quarter.
Brate converted 4th and goal with a 2 yard touchdown catch on a simple out route in the 2nd quarter. He was the target on Winston's game-ending interception in overtime, a badly thrown out route that the quarterback telegraphed beforehand.
Howard was active and played plenty of snaps, but he drew no targets. He was penalized once for offensive pass interference, ending a year to forget for the former first round pick.
Hudson drew an end zone target in the 2nd quarter, but couldn't convert against tight coverage.