Here’s the Times’ Bucs coverage team’s instant analysis from the Tampa Bay’s 34-20 loss Sunday at Atlanta:
Rick Stroud, @NFLStroud: The Bucs could not stop Julio Jones, whose 253 receiving yards are the most ever against a Tampa Bay team. It’s not as if defensive coordinator Mike Smith wasn’t aware of him. He was his head coach in Atlanta. But the Bucs defense has no one to pressure the quarterback and you can’t chase receivers through the end zone all day. Gallant comeback effort but Ryan Fitzpatrick helped them dig a hole with a bad first half.
THIRD-AND-LONG WAY TO GO
Greg Auman, @gregauman: The Bucs are at their worst on third down on defense, and Matt Ryan carved up the Bucs for 11 conversions in 14 chances. It’s the highest third-down success rate of any NFL team in any game this season. Until the Bucs figure out third down, they have little chance to beat good opponents. And Jones? So much for taking away what your opponent does best.
NOT GOOD ENOUGH
Tom Jones, @tomwjones: The Bucs didn’t quit. They put a scare into Atlanta after falling behind 27-6. You want to give them credit. But this is a bottom-line business and bottom line is the Bucs lost. Again. They couldn’t stop Julio Jones. You wonder why Atlanta didn’t throw the ball to him every play. The Bucs season is pretty much over. We already knew that. It definitely feels over now.
AH, THAT POWER RUN GAME
Martin Fennelly, @mjfennelly: That one-yard pass play on third-and-two will get you every time. Being confident and able to run the football matters at times, and one of those times was Sunday. Kudos to the Fighting Fitzes for hanging in there, but it’s out with the fantasy finish and onto the draft board. Oh, I almost forgot: Who had No. 11?
DEFENSE ALLOWED TOO MANY EXPLOSIVE PLAYS
Thomas Bassinger, @tometrics: The game came down to big plays. The Falcons executed them; the Bucs didn’t. Tampa Bay has struggled to limit explosive plays all season, and it allowed a season-high 10 20-yard gains Sunday. This was the seventh game this season that it allowed five or more in a game.
Ernest Hooper, @hoop4you: The Bucs’ chances hinged on avoiding a high-scoring affair against a team with too many offensive stars. Atlanta, however, found a way to unleash Julio Jones for his biggest game of the year and Tampa Bay had no way to keep pace despite an entertaining rally and a decent game from Fitzpatrick. Once again, it’s a loss that serves as a compass for the course the Bucs should set in the 2018 draft. The arrow points towards "D."