. Representing his late father, former Bucs GM and current Falcons president Rich McKay kept his emotions in check for most of the afternoon. But he couldn't help getting a little choked up when he saw the name "McKay" unveiled as the second member of the Bucs' Ring of Honor. "I wasn't emotional at all (Sunday) until they took the damn name out," McKay said. "Hunter, my son, got kind of emotional, and I'm like, 'Hold on; I've got to speak here. You've got to calm down.' " John McKay, the first coach in franchise history, was honored in a halftime ceremony Sunday, joining Lee Roy Selmon as the only members in the Ring of Honor. Selmon, the first player in franchise history, was on hand with several teammates and coaches from the 1976 squad and nearly a dozen members of the McKay family to celebrate the occasion. McKay, who died in 2001 at age 77, coached the Bucs for their first nine seasons. Although he lost an NFL-record 26 straight games in 1976 and 1977, McKay led Tampa Bay to the NFC Championship Game in 1979. "For our family, it's been a really neat time for us to kind of relive," Rich McKay said. "The '76 team, it was appropriate they were there. As tough as that year was, those guys — there was great camaraderie." The Bucs also honored McKay by giving away replicas of his trademark floppy golf hat — something Rich McKay went out of his way to mention in his acceptance speech, though he admitted they caught him by surprise when he entered the stadium. "I kept looking down at the hats and saying, 'That is a really cool thing,' " he said. "He would have liked that a lot."
The Bucs had to rely on FS Corey Lynch to step in for starter Cody Grimm, who was lost for the season last week at Baltimore. Sunday's game was a mixed bag for Lynch, who appeared to be late getting over to the sideline to help on a third-and-20 reception by Atlanta WR Roddy White during the winning touchdown drive. But he did add a diving interception in the fourth quarter. Regarding the interception, Lynch said, "I saw a couple people slip in front of me, and I knew the ball was up for grabs." Coach Raheem Morris said that, on the play to White, there were players out of position. It wasn't clear whether Lynch was one of them. Lined up next to Lynch and playing with him for the first time was S Sean Jones, who also had an interception — his first of the season — and finished with a team-high eight tackles. "We basically just needed somebody to step in, just like Cody did a good job stepping in for (Tanard Jackson)," Jones said. Jackson was suspended in September for 12 months by the NFL for violating the substance-abuse policy.
Faine injury deals another blow to O-line
. As if the Bucs offensive line hadn't already undergone enough recent changes, the line was dealt another blow Sunday when starting C Jeff Faine left with a triceps injury. Faine did not return, leaving Jeremy Zuttah to slide from right guard to center and Derek Hardman to fill Zuttah's spot at guard.
"Whatever they ask, I'm willing to do," Zuttah said.
The Bucs have had several reserve players step forward this season, from Ted Larsen to James Lee to the all-purpose Zuttah, who has played three positions. But they are nearing depletion, particularly after Davin Joseph's season-ending foot injury last week.
Yet the Bucs keep finding good options in the most unlikely places.
"It shows some character and it shows a lot about (pro scout) Shelton Quarles and (general manager) Mark Dominik," LT Donald Penn said. "The guys who came in, those are guys they brought in here. I've been there before. That's how I got my break. I love to see it. Those guys are going to learn from these games just like I did."
The severity of Faine's injury wasn't clear, and Faine didn't speak to reporters after the game. Faine missed a month with a triceps injury last year, but it wasn't clear whether this injury was to the same arm.
Return changes momentum
. The play that changed the complexion of the game for good was Eric Weems' 102-yard kickoff-return touchdown in the fourth quarter, the longest kickoff return in Atlanta's franchise history.
But Bucs WR Maurice Stovall said it didn't have to happen.
Stovall, a special-teams ace, took the responsibility for the play on his shoulders.
"I had the missed tackle on the sideline," he volunteered afterward. "It's something that we practice every day. It was a great call by our special teams coach and his staff. It was just mis-executed by me. We were definitely in position to make that play. It was a good call and great kick by our kicker. It was just a missed tackle, and you can't have those in a big game like this."
Weems was straddling the sideline while multiple defenders seemed to be in position to knock him out of bounds. But when Stovall missed him, no one else stepped in to back him up, allowing Weems to cut back inside and gain a full head of steam. Once that happened, Weems had enough teammates out ahead of him to help him finish the deal.
"It was very good blocking at the end of that return that got him in for a touchdown," Falcons coach Mike Smith said.