One player the Bucs can ill afford to lose is Pro Bowl RB Doug Martin, which is why it put a scare on their sideline when he went down with a left shoulder injury early in the third quarter and did not return Sunday against the Falcons.
But Martin, wearing a sling around his arm after the game, appeared optimistic about it, saying the shoulder's not separated and preliminary X-rays looked good. It's unclear whether he can play Thursday against the Panthers at Raymond James Stadium.
"It feels all right right now," Martin said. "I'm pretty sure (today) it'll feel better. Maybe not. I hope for the best."
Martin got hurt in an awkward landing after his attempt on a leaping catch during a wheel route near the goal line. "I landed on the elbow and all the pressure went to my shoulder," Martin said. "It's unfortunate. We'll do our best to get it evaluated and rehab it as quickly as we can."
The Bucs lost another All-Pro in the first half, as SDashon Goldson injured his left knee when he said he was cut by a Falcons receiver on the second play of the game. He was walking around gingerly in the locker room postgame with a big ice bag over his knee. "I've never had a knee (injury) before, but I know it didn't feel right," Goldson said. "I tried to play a couple more plays, but I just couldn't. It wasn't the same."
Goldson went back into the locker room temporarily, saying trainers taped him up, and tried to return, but it didn't help much. He was still waiting forX-raysand was unsure of when he'll return. As for his availability Thursday?
"We'll see," he said. "I'm hoping for a miracle."
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One hand, one big Bucs play
WR Vincent Jackson had a couple of drops, a fumble, and a 15-yard face mask penalty on a fourth-quarter drive. But the Pro Bowl player also had 10 catches for 138 yards, including the Bucs' biggest play, a 59-yard touchdown in the second quarter in which he made a spectacular, one-handed grab with his right hand while fighting off Pro Bowl CB Asante Samuel with his left. "Sometimes you've got to take those shots," Jackson said. "I just went up there and tried to compete." Rookie QB Mike Glennon hadn't been very accurate in previous deep shots down the field, admitting he missed Jackson a few times the last few weeks where he "didn't give him a chance." But this time, Glennon connected, the first of two Jackson touchdowns. "That touchdown catch by Vincent proves that I just need to really give these guys a chance at all times, and he made a big-time play on it," Glennon said. Jackson was targeted on 22 passes. No other receiver was targeted more than five times.
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- LB Lavonte David (top right) had another (mostly) stellar day, recording 10 tackles, more than double any other Buccaneer, including three for losses. His most glaring miscue was getting beat on a 19-yard touchdown pass to RB Jacquizz Rodgers (below) down the left sideline in the second quarter.
- Atlanta's third touchdown was aided by an uncharacteristic 20-yard punt from Michael Koenen, which went out of bounds at the Bucs 37. The Falcons scored on the next play to take a 24-7 lead.
- As expected, the Bucs shuffled their offensive line, with Ted Larsen starting at center and Jeremy Zuttah moving to left guard, helping replace injured LG Carl Nicks.
- S Kelcie McCray, claimed off waivers a few weeks ago, got extended playing time Sunday with S Dashon Goldson injuring his left knee. S Keith Tandy also got his share of action.
- WR Mike Williams, who missed last week's game due to a hamstring injury, played Sunday, making four catches for 32 yards.
- The Bucs had zero sacks.
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James a valuable fill-in
With Pro Bowl RB Doug Martin going down with a left shoulder injury early in the third quarter, rookie RB Mike James stepped up with 14 carries for 45 yards. The Bucs gave the ball to James, the sixth-round pick from Miami, on fourth and 1 from the Falcons 3 during the third quarter. The 5-foot-10, 223-pounder gained 2 up the middle to get a first down and set up a 1-yard touchdown catch by WR Vincent Jackson. In his first four games James had just three carries for 7 yards, used mostly on special teams, but could carry a bigger load if Martin can't play Thursday night against the Panthers. "I did what I can to try to display to the coaching staff and my teammates that I'm able to do that if something ever happens," James said. "Hopefully I gave them the confidence."
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Turnover sets up Bucs touchdown
RB Brian Leonard takes pride in his special teams play, believing that versatility can extend his career. And Leonard made a big play early in the third quarter, forcing a fumble by punt returner Robert Alford. LB Dekoda Watson recovered on the Falcons 23-yard line and Bucs drove for a touchdown, pulling within 24-17. "I was just doing my job, I'm the wing ... and (Alford) came my way," Leonard said. "Somebody had him wrapped up, and I went in for the strip tackle. Any turnover is a big momentum shift, especially that close to the goal line. We got seven points on that drive. It doesn't matter though, we still lost."
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Career day for Falcons backup
The Falcons were playing without two of their top weapons - injured WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White - along with RB Steven Jackson. But backup WR Harry Douglas had a career-high 149 yards on seven catches. In his first five games Douglas, a fifth-year pro out of Louisville, had 16 receptions and one 100-yard game. "Harry had a career day," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "Everybody's role changes in the NFL. Harry is a very good receiver, he just hasn't had the opportunity to be the No. 1 receiver. He was the No. 1 receiver (Sunday)." Six of Douglas' catches came in the first half. Douglas got behind CB Leonard Johnson for a 54-yard grab, setting up a field goal midway through the second quarter. Johnson, called for pass interference on the play, said he spun, leaping for the ball, but QB Matt Ryan threw to Douglas' back shoulder. "He just stepped up and filled the role," Johnson said of Douglas. "He made plays." A couple of minutes later, Douglas beat Bucs rookie CB Johnthan Banks, who had another tough day, on a double move for a 37-yard touchdown pass. CB Darrelle Revis said the Falcons were moving Douglas around a lot, and there wasn't a discussion about him focusing solely on Douglas. Said Revis: "He had a great game."
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Tough start, nice finish
Rookie QB Mike Glennon's day couldn't have started off much worse Sunday, his fumble on a sack on the Bucs' first possession returned 30 yards for a touchdown by Falcons S Thomas DeCoud. But the Bucs were encouraged with how Glennon performed in his first career road start, showing poise and twice bringing them back within a touchdown. "Glennon showed what he's been showing all year," WR Mike Williams said. "He went on the road and showed he can handle the pressure." Glennon's mobility continues to be an issue, his 13-yard scramble aside, as he couldn't escape the rush on the early third and 10, leading to S William Moore's sack/fumble and a 7-0 deficit three minutes into the game. "They blitzed me and I was looking for my hot guy and wasn't able to get to him," Glennon said. "That's on me. I've got to hold onto the ball." Glennon finished 26-for-44 for 256 yards and two touchdowns, and he did a better job on throwing deep balls, including a 59-yard strike to WR Vincent Jackson in the second quarter. "We consciously wanted to throw the ball down the field and he did that, and we got (an interference call) and completions," coach Greg Schiano said. Glennon averaged just 5.8 yards per attempt but made some clutch throws on third and fourth downs during the fourth-quarter comeback. "The thing you're encouraged by is we've got a group of men in that locker room that will fight their guts out and stick together," Schiano said. "And we've got a young quarterback who continues to progress."