TAMPA, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – The Buccaneers knew they had to be aggressive against the Falcons Sunday.
The Bucs shut out the Falcons by the end of the first quarter, 14-0. By halftime, the Bucs scored another touchdown with Tom Brady finding Mike Evans in the end zone, making the score 21-14.
On Friday this week, head coach Bruce Arians stressed the importance of the Buccaneers pressing Falcons QB Matt Ryan out of the box, because if they didn’t, “he’ll light you up.”
The Buccaneers got the message. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, the Bucs defense pressured Ryan 11 times. While the Bucs only sacked Ryan once, which Arians wanted to see more of, the Bucs’ blitz limited Ryan’s passing game. They blitzed on 36.7% of dropbacks. All three of Ryan’s picks happened when the Bucs had five or more men on him, and all three led to points for Tampa Bay.
The Bucs defense was so aggressive it even bled into the offense. Mike Edwards caused Ryan two pick sixes, returning two interceptions for touchdowns. That Mike added to the other Mike’s–wide receiver Mike Evans–two touchdowns. Sunday’s game was Edwards’ first pick six since his college days at Kentucky when he got one against Middle Tennessee State for his last collegiate interception. Edwards never had two pick sixes in a game until Sunday.
Early in the fourth, the Bucs managed to widen the lead with another touchdown, with Brady passing to Chris Godwin for the closer. They claimed a 10-point lead again, 35-25.
The Buccaneers defeated the Falcons 48-25. Three scorers racked up two touchdowns each: Rob Gronkowski, Mike Evans, and Mike Edwards.