71 degrees / clear
Key Decision #1: (ATL leads 14-7 / 4th & 10 TB 39/ 3:17 Q2)
- Playing outdoors, albeit it on a warm night, a lot of head coaches might have punted in this situation. But Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn went for a 57-yard FG attempt, and K Matt Bryant converted for a 10-point Atlanta lead at 17-7.
Key Decision #2: (TB trails 17-7 / 3rd & 9 own 46 / 13:13 Q3)
- This was the opening possession of the Q3, and opportunity to close to within one score. In this down and distance, the Buccaneers strangely went up tempo for this play; the play felt rushed, QB Winston was sacked, and the Buccaneers had to punt – an opportunity missed. We wonder why the tempo was changed for this particular play; perhaps they felt they could catch the Falcons in a substitution situation? Either way, a curious call given their OL has been hit with injuries – in this game, their starting RG had to move to center – and tempo changes can be difficult with new OL personnel.
Key Decision #3: (ATL leads 17-14 / 3rd & 3 TB 32/ 7:58 Q4)
- The Falcons made a nice play call to a toss play to RB Devonta Freeman, who ran in for a TD and a 10-point Atlanta lead. The toss play to Freeman and 3rd string RB Terron Ward was a good and consistent call for Atlanta tonight, and something that the Buccaneers never really made an in-game adjustment to.
- Buccaneers Head Coach Dirk Koetter did an excellent job this game of managing it well enough to give his team a chance to win. Koetter has had a lot of injuries to deal with, and in this game, five key players were either lost for the entire game, or for parts of it. His best defensive players, LB Lavonte David and DT Gerald McCoy also did not play in this game. Koetter used his backup personnel well; RB Peyton Barber had a nice game. Koetter also did a good job with his clock management, as he allowed his team one last opportunity to win or tie the game.
- As an example of the things that are outside of a head coach’s control, Tampa Bay K Patrick Murray may have been able to attempt the game tying FG from a few yards closer if a referee spotting the ball on the final drive hadn’t slipped in placing the ball down. The slip caused several seconds to elapse; absent a slip, the Buccaneers may have been able to run one more play in order to gain a few more yards. It simply was bad luck, but little things like that are important but also don’t show up in a box score.
- Atlanta was solidly committed to their running game tonight, and they gashed Tampa Bay in every way, taking advantage of a depleted Buccaneers defensive roster. They also used the I-formation with success, and worked in backup RB Terron Ward effectively.