Saturday, May 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs-Falcons: Scenes from Raymond James Stadium

The progression of Mike Glennon, rookie quarterback, took another step Sunday with perhaps his best game of the season: 20-for-23 passing for 231 yards and two touchdowns in leading the Bucs to a 41-28 win against Atlanta. "That was awesome, total team effort: offense, defense, special teams, all phases of the game," said Glennon, who had the second-best completion percentage in Bucs history, trumped by a 22-for-25 day from Vinny Testaverde in 1992. Glennon also found the deep ball that hadn't clicked in his first six games as starter, connecting with Vincent Jackson on passes of 47 and 53 yards, including a one-handed Jackson grab as the Bucs built momentum. "Some of the times, it was me just throwing it up and giving (Jackson) a chance," said Glennon, who raised his passing TD total to 11 for the year, breaking Josh Freeman's team rookie record of 10 in 2009. "With the coverage (the Falcons) were playing, it gave (Jackson) a little more one-on-ones than we have seen the past few weeks." Glennon hit RB Bobby Rainey for a touchdown pass and connected with Jackson on a corner fade, again trusting his receiver's ability to come down with the jump ball. "Mike's had that confidence; he's had it since he first got here, which was really surprising to me," LT Donald Penn said. "He's just building on it. We protect him well, and he made a lot of things happen today."

The Falcons were rolling on their opening drive Sunday, racking up 52 yards on their first four plays, setting up a first down at the Bucs' 35-yard line. That's when Bucs Pro Bowl DT Gerald McCoy took over, picking up back-to-back sacks of QB Matt Ryan to take the Falcons out of field-goal range. McCoy, who finished with three sacks in the game, said it was the first time since high school he had sacks on consecutive plays. He split a double team on the first one for a loss of 4 yards and won a one-on-one matchup on the second for a loss of 10. Bucs coach Greg Schiano said it set the tone for the game. "It's tough to overcome one sack on the drive, but when you have two, it's difficult," Ryan said. McCoy became the first Buc with three sacks in a game since DE Jimmy Wilkerson (Oct. 11, 2009, at Philadelphia) and the third defensive tackle in team history to record three sacks in a game (Brad Culpepper and Warren Sapp did it twice). McCoy has four sacks in the past two games after getting two in the first eight, but he said he's not been doing anything different. "He's playing lights out," CB Darrelle Revis said. Schiano said he challenged McCoy, who helped seal Monday's 22-19 victory over the Dolphins with a sack on Miami's final drive. "He played two All-Pro games the last two games. We said: 'Can you do it? Can you do it week in and week out?' " Schiano said. "And he showed up and did it, without a doubt."

. For an NFL player, it's not every Sunday he gets to pull off an onside kick and attempt a pass on a fake punt on the same series. But Michael Koenen, the Bucs' kickoff specialist and punter, got to do just that. He executed a perfect onside kick that was recovered by Russell Shepard, then saw the drive end when his fake-punt pass to RB Brian Leonard fell incomplete during one of the wilder drives in the Bucs' win. "(Shepard) made a great play. He laid out and made the catch on it. It was well-executed. It was fun," said Koenen, who lobbed a short kick that Shepard caught just as the ball passed the 10-yard minimum. Shepard, a backup receiver who plays on kick coverage, moved over one spot from his usual "gunner" position without being noticed by Atlanta. "Mike's been making amazing kicks the whole week, so we knew there would be opportunities," Shepard said. "It's an opportunity for me to show this team I deserve to be here, to make a difference in this game."

Later in the drive, the Bucs lined up for a 52-yard field goal, then sent K Rian Lindell in motion out wide left, with FB Eric Lorig moving from left to right. Koenen, usually the holder on field goals, dropped back as if to punt, but he took the snap and rolled to his right before heaving the pass to the left side. Leonard, however, was well-covered, and the pass fell incomplete.

"Just trying to steal a possession if you can't get a touchdown. It was fun to run," said Koenen, who hadn't thrown a pass in 600-plus punts in his nine NFL seasons. "It isn't often I get to throw a ball in a game, so it was fun to mix it up."

Bucs coach Greg Schiano wasn't done with the trick-play boldness. On Tampa Bay's next possession, facing first and 10 at the Atlanta 23-yard line, he called for a direct snap to RB Bobby Rainey, who then pulled up to throw but sent his pass high and incomplete. "I knew as soon as we called the direct-snap pass, (when we) could see the coverage they were in, 'This isn't good,' " Schiano said. "(Rainey has) some ice water in him. Nothing's really too big for him, which is neat."

. For the second time this season, Bucs LB Mason Foster made a key interception, then made enough moves to turn it directly into points. With help from pressuring Dekoda Watson, Foster picked off a Matt Ryan pass and weaved 37 yards through the Falcons for a touchdown, giving Tampa Bay a 17-3 lead in the second quarter. "It was a heck of a play," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "Mason made a great catch and then a great run. That's the second time now he's scored touchdowns that were not easy runs where he made people miss. Certainly a big play at that point in the game."

Foster, who returned an interception 85 yards for a score in September against New Orleans, left Sunday's game later in the second quarter with a concussion. He did not return and by league policy was not available for comment afterward, though he was in the locker room in street clothes.

Watson, who played Sunday at times as a rush end, said he was at first disappointed to get only a glancing blow on Ryan as he threw, then quickly was pleased with the outcome. "I was mad at first, but seeing 'Mace' get it, I was ecstatic," Watson said. "I just said, 'Let me at least throw a block in there or two,' and he made it all the way to the end zone. It's just a beautiful play."

Goldon's impact

. Bucs S Dashon Goldson matched a season low with two tackles, but he also came up with two big defensive plays. Goldson, an All-Pro who signed a five-year, $41.25 million deal in the offseason, had his first interception and forced a fumble. With Atlanta down 17-3 and about five minutes left in the second quarter, Atlanta WR Roddy White caught a pass near midfield before he was surrounded by Bucs defenders. Goldson went in last, and his hit jarred the ball loose, with S Mark Barron recovering. That led to a 3-yard touchdown run by RB Bobby Rainey. "It was a quick pass to (White), and one of our guys got to him and stood him up," Goldson said. "I just tried to hit him, and the ball came out." Early in the fourth quarter, Goldson picked off a Matt Ryan pass intended for WR Harry Douglas over the middle. "It was a dig route they tried to run on the back side," Goldson said. "I was reading the quarterback's eyes and stepped in front of the wide receiver." Goldson also had two passes defensed, including one that thwarted a fourth-down conversion attempt, recovered a Falcons onside kick and picked up a personal-foul penalty.

Bucs LB Dekoda Watson said he had been frustrated that he didn't have a blocked punt through the first nine games. The special teams standout had two last year. So Sunday's blocked punt in the third quarter was extra satisfying for Watson when the turnover set up another Bucs touchdown. Watson said it wasn't a punt-block call, but he lined up on the outside and he anticipated the Falcons player diving at his legs. So Watson "gambled," stepping out and cutting the corner, diving to get his left hand on Matt Bosher's punt. Bosher recovered at his 20-yard line before getting tackled by LB Jonathan Casillas. "I was hoping, praying to God he had picked it up and tried to kick it again," Watson said. "Cause I'd try to block it again." Watson also played a role in LB Mason Foster's second-quarter interception, hitting QB Matt Ryan as he threw the ball. Foster intercepted the pass and ran 37 yards for a score. "At first I was upset because I didn't get (Ryan) down," said Watson, who rushed from the left end side. "I'm just excited (Foster) got it and definitely took advantage of the play."

Quick hits

. It'll be interesting to see if S Dashon Goldson gets another fine, or worse, from the league after another helmet-to-helmet personal-foul penalty. Goldson barely avoided a suspension and was fined $100,000 earlier this year for hits to the head.

. Tampa Bay's drive to its first field goal was aided by a direct snap to RB Brian Leonard, who ran around right end for 6 yards on third and 3 at the Falcons' 25.

     
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