Today, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came out of Atlanta with a 31-24 victory to open their season. Dirk Koetter records his first ever win as a NFL Head Coach. This was a team effort, but there are some names that definitely stood out in the win.
First off, Kwon Alexander was all over the field wreaking havoc on the Falcons’ ball carriers. He flew around the Georgia Dome laying down the hammer for an impressive 17 tackles (15 solos, 2 for a loss). Not only were they just tackles, they were rock solid hits that left bruising marks on the Falcons’ players. He also picked up a sack in today’s game. Kwon came out and said “preparation and defense being ready” led to his career game.
In addition, his partner in crime, Lavonte David came in like a wrecking ball as well by knocking defenders to the ground for eight tackles. Now, on the back end of the defense, Chris Conte piled up ten total tackles and was protecting his area in the passing game against Matt Ryan.
Next, Jameis Winston was key in today’s victory. He started off slow with an interception, but quickly he turned it around to lead his team to victory. Winston finished the game with 23 pass completions out of 33 attempts for 281 yards with four touchdowns, which Winston is the first Buccaneer quarterback since Steve DeBerg (1987) to throw four touchdown passes in a season opener. He threw touchdown passes to Charles Sims, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Mike Evans, and Brandon Myers.
Furthermore, Gerald McCoy and Robert Ayers Jr were applying pressure to the Falcons, which caused them to change their tempo. Between Ayers and McCoy, they picked up five tackles and two sacks, plus McCoy played a huge factor by deflecting two passes, which one pass deflection was the key fourth down stop at the end of the game.
Interestingly, Mike Evans looks like he has fixed his drop problems from last year. He caught five passes for 99 yards with one score, with his longest catch coming in at a 45-yard grab. On that 45-yard touchdown grab, Evans said “I did not see the ball till the last minute.”
However, the running backs were one of the major reasons that allowed Winston to get all of those successful drives. Martin and Sims ran the ball for a total of 22 carries for 71 yards, but they also did damage in the passing game by reeling in eight passes for 66 yards with one score, which Sims scored on that one pass by juking out two defenders and break a good number of tackles. Funnily enough, on those broken tackles, Sims said “I did not feel them, I was just in the moment.”
Finally, Roberto Aguayo looks fine. He started off shaky in the first two pre-season games, but after that he finished the pre-season by making eight out of ten attempts. He carried his hot streak into today’s game and finished with one 43-yard field goal, plus converting four times on the extra point attempt.
Note: The Buccaneers will head to Arizona next week to take on the Cardinals.