Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs at Falcons: 5 things you might have missed

ATLANTA — After three hours of regulation play against the Falcons on Sunday, the Bucs' offense had enough left in the tank to put together a 15-play, 68-yard drive that set up the winning field goal in a 23-20 overtime victory. Five things you might have missed:

1 Rookie QB Jameis Winston converted three third downs on the overtime drive — the Bucs had converted three total in the four quarters of regulation — including a third and 10 with a 14-yard pass to Mike Evans.

At 15 plays, that was the second-longest drive in any overtime game in the NFL since 2004. The Chargers had a 16-play drive in a 2013 win.

More impressive? The Bucs' first four first downs gained in overtime came from four players: RB Charles Sims, Evans, RB Doug Martin and rookie WR Adam Humphries.

"It would have been nice to finish it off with a touchdown, but we had a long, long drive," G Logan Mankins said. "Jameis made the right reads, guys made big plays, and we gave them enough time. … (Sunday) was very gratifying to win one."

2 The Bucs won on the road despite being outgained by 206 yards. How often does this happen? NFL teams outgained by 200-plus yards on the road had lost 29 games in a row entering this weekend. The Bucs were 0-26 in their history when outgained by 200-plus yards.

How does a team overcome that kind of deficit? Force four turnovers and commit none. It's a Lovie Smith recipe: Teams that were plus-4 or better in turnover margin had won 31 straight entering the weekend and were 94-2 going back to 2010.

3 Not only did Winston rush for a touchdown to put the Bucs up 20-3 in the third quarter, he set up the score with a 21-yard scramble, the longest run by a Bucs quarterback since Josh Freeman in 2011.

Winston has two rushing touchdowns this season, the most by a Bucs rookie quarterback.

You probably didn't miss this, but Winston went a third straight game without an interception, something he never did in two seasons at Florida State. He went consecutive games without an interception only once in two college seasons.

4 For the first time, a Bucs opponent didn't punt. The Falcons had two touchdowns, two field goals, three fumbles, one interception and a turnover on downs in overtime.

The Bucs had held opponents to a single punt 17 times in their 40 years — winning four of those games — but had never gone an entire game without forcing a punt.

How often does a team not punt once and lose? It has happened twice in the past five years over 1,200-plus games. The Packers and Bears did it last season.

5 The Bucs learned a lesson about penalties last week. After getting 16 flags for 142 yards in the loss to Washington — both figures the most for a Smith-coached team — the Bucs reined things against the Falcons, getting penalized eight times for 43 yards. That isn't great, but compared with Atlanta's 124 yards on 11 penalties, the Bucs won that battle.

And after giving up seven first downs on penalties a week ago, the Bucs gave the Falcons only two while getting five first downs on Atlanta flags.

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

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