Then & Now

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December 21, 2020

Bucs squeak by Falcons despite another slow start

2020 has been a weird year. For the Buccaneers, it has been one of the strangest years in the team’s history.

Oh, sure, the Bucs are 9-5 and still have a slight chance to win the NFC South should the New Orleans Saints lose their final two games.

What is perplexing is the way this team starts games. There is no fire, no emotion, no sense of urgency as they seem to like getting in a hole early in the game and having to fight like hell in the second half to win the game.

It seems repetitive, but I am writing the same thing every week after watching another Buccaneer football game.

The Bucs once again played one of the worst halves of football that this team has played this season.

The Bucs need to win these games to secure a playoff berth. You would think that would be enough motivation to get this team to come out of the locker room ready to take care of business.

Quite the opposite. The Bucs managed five first downs in the first half and had 60 yards of offense as they trailed the Atlanta Falcons 17-0.

There is no excuse for this apathy and lack of sense of urgency to start the game. The good news is the Bucs did play lights out in the second half and outscored the Falcons 31-10 to get the win 31-27.

The concern is that this kind of performance will make sure that you are one and done in the playoffs. There will be no Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers waiting in the playoffs.

Another slow start plagued the Bucs on both sides of the ball. The defense allowed the Falcons to convert 60 percent on third down. The offense converted 1/5 third-down conversions in the first half.

Third down again was the Achilles heel for the Buccaneers as the defense couldn’t get off the field.

There was no pressure on Matt Ryan in the first half as he was 6/6 on the first drive as the Falcons took a quick 7-0 lead.

The Bucs were without their starting running back Ronald Jones, and it was painful to watch the Bucs run the ball in the first half. They could get nothing going on the ground as the duo of Leonard Fournette and Ke’Shawn Vaughan ran for seven yards.

The tide turned in the second half, and the team came out of the locker room and torched the Falcons. The Bucs outscored the dirty birds 31-10 in the second half and held the Falcons to 108 yards of total offense.

Mike Evans had another 100-yard receiving game. The 27th of his NFL career. Evans has 769 receiving yards on the season, and it looks like his streak of six consecutive 1,000 yard receiving seasons will come to an end.

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