It was a tale of two halves for the Bucs and especially the Bucs defense. as they allowed Matt Ryan and the Falcons to go down the field at will in the first half as they built a 21-6 lead.
The defenwe did play much better in the second half but it was a case of to little to late as the damage had already been done.
There were also some things to like about the game as Peyton Barber had his best game of the season as he rushed for 82 yards and caught a TD pass.
Jameis Winston passed for 385 yards and four TD’s. The defense actually showed up in the second half and played their best football of the season. But once again the defense was the problem as the Buc lost a close one 34-29.
This was a game the Bucs could have and should have won. But for the third game in a row the defense put the Bucs in a big hole in the first half by not being able to make any kind of plays as the Falcons built a 21-13 lead.
Let’s give credit where its due, the defense came out in the second half and played much better even getting the Falcons to go three and out on three consecutive possessions. That is the first time that has happened all season.
What was the difference in the performance between the first and secon half? For the first time all season Mike Smith made some adjustments. There was pressure applied to Matt Ryan. The run defense was much better. They stopped the Falcons on third down and the overall pass coverage was much better in the second half.
Overall the Bucs played much better defense in the second half but in the end the Bucs weren’t good enough to beat a mediocre Falcons team giving the Bucs their third straight loss.
One other thing about this defense is that they are not creating any kind of turnovers. They have just one interception on the season and are losing the turnover battle almost every game. The Bucs on the season are now -4 in the turnover battle Whic is tied for 28th in the league.
It was nice to see the running game get going. The Bucs ran the ball for 123 yards and averaged over 6 yards per carry.
A couple of other things that stuck out to me watching this game. Jameis Winston has horrible on any ball thrown over 30 yards. We saw this last season but thought with another year in the Dirk Koetter offense he would improve. He has no touch at all on those long balls that are needed at times to loosen up the defense.
DeSean Jackson had 4 catches today for 77 yards, but there is not a lot of chemistry right now between Winston and Jackson. Mike Evans did not have a great game today as he and Winston looked out of sync at times.
On the injury front Gerald McCoy suffered a lower body injury and was seen leaving the locker room in a walking boot. The Bucs did get Beau Allen back today but losing McCoy for any length of time will be another challenge for this defense to overcome.
Ryan Smith also left the game with a concussion. The Bucs are already thin at DB with Marcus Williams, Chris Conte, and Vernon Hargreaves out for the season. Carlton Davis was out today with a groin injury. Hopefully he can be back ready to go next week.
It will not get any easy as the up and coming Cleveland Browns are up next on the schedule. This is a young hungry defense that will cause problems for the Bucs offense.
Then its off to Cincinnati and Carolina to wrap up the first half of the season.