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Bucs vs. Falcons: 5 things you might have missed

The Bucs' dramatic victory over the Falcons produced a few memories, but here are a few things you might have missed:

1 Will Gholston stepped up on a decimated defensive line. Gerald McCoy and Jacquies Smith, 1-2 in sacks for the Bucs, were out with injuries.

But third-year DE Gholston continued his strong play, stepping up with two sacks against Falcons QB Matt Ryan. Gholston, known as a top run stopper more than a pass rusher, had two sacks total in his previous 25 games before Sunday.

"Will Gholston, we've talked a lot about how he's improved," coach Lovie Smith said. "They kept answering the bell is what they did."

Gholston couldn't talk after the game because he was being evaluated for a concussion. The other three Bucs defensive ends Sunday were all first-year players: rookie Howard Jones; Josh Shirley, who got his second career tackle; and Kourtnei Brown, who got his first.

The Bucs defense held the Falcons to 64 rushing yards, their third-lowest total of the season, and came up with three sacks, matching the second most allowed by Atlanta in 2015.

"The big thing was still bottling the run game up," defensive line coach Joe Cullen said. "They had (Devonta) Freeman back, he's a heck of a back and that was the big thing: We got them away from their run game."

2 Two players most relieved by the Bucs' win: Doug Martin and Demar Dotson. Martin's fourth-quarter fumble set up a go-ahead touchdown for the Falcons, and Dotson, getting his first start at right tackle, had a huge holding penalty to negate a long Martin run on what would be the winning drive.

"I was tired. I didn't know if I was going to hold up," said Dotson, who played every offensive snap after missing eight games with a knee injury and playing only special teams in the past three games. "I was probably a little sloppy. I'm sure it was a good call. Jameis (Winston) came back with a big play. The guy's got a heart."

Martin had 55 yards on the first two drives, later scoring a touchdown for the first time in seven games and finishing with 95 rushing yards.

"We dealt with adversity today," he said. "I had the fumble. The important thing is that we won. We got over the hump. I'm proud of everybody."

3 Devin Hester had a very quiet game. A year ago, Hester returned a kick for a touchdown against his old Bears coach, Lovie Smith. Sunday, the Bucs had touchbacks on kickoffs and well-placed punts. Clearwater's Jeremiah George stopped him for a 3-yard return on his only punt return, and rookie WR Donteea Dye dropped him at the 11-yard line on one of his two kickoff returns.

4 Why did the Bucs go for two? They won, so it's moot, but 3:35 left in the third quarter is just too early to look to the what-should-I-do card and go for two, up 13-12 after their touchdown. The conversion failed, and instead of being able to win the game with a field goal on that final drive, the Bucs trailed 19-16, knowing a kick would only send it to overtime.

5 That Jameis Winston run, not suitable for print. The Bucs were at a loss for words about Winston's 20-yard scramble, including rookie G Ali Marpet. "(Expletive). Sorry, I can't curse. That was an amazing play," said Marpet, back at right guard after missing three games with an ankle injury. "My jaw just dropped. No (expletive) way."

Contact Greg Auman at gauman@tampabay.com and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

Defensive end William Gholston teams with  defensive tackle Henry Melton to sack Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan for a 1-yard loss in the second quarter. Gholston finishes with two sacks, equal to the number he had in his previous 25 games.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Defensive end William Gholston teams with defensive tackle Henry Melton to sack Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan for a 1-yard loss in the second quarter. Gholston finishes with two sacks, equal to the number he had in his previous 25 games.

Bucs vs. Falcons: 5 things you might have missed 12/06/15 [Last modified: Sunday, December 6, 2015 8:20pm]
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