Kyle Zedaker/Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Chris Godwin before his single-game franchise record-breaking 15 catches during a game against the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 4, 2021.
Tom Brady is still perfect against the Atlanta Falcons after the Bucs defeated the Falcons 30-17 on the road. The win came on the strength of Chris Godwin’s single-game franchise record-breaking 15 catches and a defense that pitched a shutout in the second half.
There were many different key contributors in this game, as Brady spread the ball around to all of the electric playmakers the Bucs can jog out onto the field at any given time. Case in point: Mike Evans and Godwin combined for over 200 yards receiving, but neither had a touchdown.
TB12 decided to target Gronk (twice), Fournette and Cam Brate for his four touchdowns.
The Bucs clearly saw something they liked and went with the short pass when gameplanning for this one; Brady threw the ball a remarkable 51 times for 368 yards. Tampa Bay only ran the ball 17 times, with Fournette receiving 13 carries for the game despite running for 100 yards last week in Indianapolis
. It may have been unconventional and a bit odd, especially considering the fact that the Bucs led the entire game following their sixth opening-possession touchdown, but the strategy certainly worked.
While the Bucs were able to do whatever they wanted through the air offensively, on defense they were just as dominant. Clearly, giving up 118 yards on the ground is concerning and abnormal for a Bucs defense that’s led the league in rush yards given up per game for the last three years, but the D also forced a fumble and racked up five sacks for the game.
If the pass rush can get hot and start to play the way it did at the end of last season, things could be looking even better for a Bucs team that is already well on its way to locking up the NFC South and maybe even making a run at a first-round bye.
While the first-seed Cardinals coasted to a victory against the struggling Chicago Bears, the Bucs have a much more favorable schedule to end the season, with two matchups against the Panthers and games against the struggling Saints and Jets.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, have to face the Rams, Colts and Cowboys to end the season. Arizona could easily lose a couple of those games, with the Colts remaining hot and the Rams and Cowboys being one two of the better teams in the NFC.
All of that being said, as tumultuous as the Bucs season has been with injuries in the secondary and the recent drama with Antonio Brown’s alleged fake vaccine cards
, sitting at 9-3 with their remaining schedule is pretty much a best-case scenario for Tampa.
Tampa Bay will need a lot of help from its friends in the NFC if the Bucs want to get a first-round bye, but Brady & co. could clinch the NFC South as early as next week if all goes well.
Fire those cannons, because the Bucs looked great and are only getting better.
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