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Bucs-Falcons: Bucs take 17-7 lead at halftime

Jameis Winston has thrown for 210 yards and two touchdown in the first half
BRONTE WITTPENN | Times
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) looks to pass the ball in a practice before a game against the Atlanta Falcons in the final game of the season at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, December 30, 2018.
BRONTE WITTPENN | Times Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) looks to pass the ball in a practice before a game against the Atlanta Falcons in the final game of the season at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, December 30, 2018.
Published Dec. 30, 2018
Updated Dec. 30, 2018

TAMPA — The outcome of Sunday's Bucs finale isn't expected to affect whether the team decides to part ways with head coach Dirk Koetter or general manager Jason Licht, but Tampa Bay was one half away from ending the season on a positive note, leading the Atlanta Falcons 17-7 at halftime.

Jameis Winston has two touchdown passes and 210 yards on 15-for-23 passing. The Bucs have outgained the Falcons, 270-172, in total yards, maintained an 18:04 to 11:56 edge in time of possession and are 4-for-8 on third downs, while Atlanta is 0-for-5.

Winston connected with Chris Godwin down the right sideline for a 30-yard touchdown pass, giving the Bucs a 17-0 lead with just 51 seconds left in the half. Godwin has five catches for a team-high 95 yards.

The Falcons quickly cut the Tampa Bay lead back to 10, going 75 yards on five plays, all of them gains of 19 yards or more — ending with a 19-yard touchdown completion to a wide-open Julio Jones from Matt Ryan.

The Bucs orchestrated their longest touchdown drive of the season, going 93 yards on 12 plays over 6:28 on a drive that ended with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Winston to Mike Evans.

Earlier in the drive, Evans set a franchise new single-season receiving mark with a 19-yard reception that passed Mark Carrier's 1,422-yard season in 1989.

Tampa Bay had to settle for a 36-yard field goal from Cairo Santos in the second quarter after Winston was sacked on third-and-5 at the 14-yard line.

The Bucs have done a good job of pressuring Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has three of the team's five quarterback hits, and Jason Pierre-Paul recorded his first sack in a month, giving him a team-high 12.5 on the season.

Bucs cornerback Brent Grimes, who entered the day with three pass defenses on the season, broke up three passes in the first half.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.