The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did what was expected, but instead of either the running or passing attack making the difference, it was a combination of stellar defense and special teams play that enabled the Bucs to rout the Atlanta Falcons At Raymond James Stadium Sunday afternoon.
A milestone was also achieved by the Bucs, as well; they returned a kickoff for a touchdown, while not a big deal as it happens semi-regularly. What makes this one special is that this is the first kickoff returned for the Bucs – ever – for a TD; that goes over a span of 32 seasons. The kickoff return for that touchdown was for 90 yards and made by kick returner-wide receiver Michael Spurlock; Tampa cornerback Ronde Barber also returned an interception for a TD.
The Falcons had absolutely no answers on offense as they totalled only 133 total net yards. Suffice it to say, they were dominated in every phase of the game; as a matter of fact, Atlanta’s only score happened at the 6:32 mark of the first quarter, courtesy of a 33-yard field goal by kicker Morten Andersen. Tampa Bay quarterback Jeff Garcia, back after time off with a back injury, had a statistically dismal day, going 15-of-25 for 109 yards with a TD and an interception. Running back Earnest Graham led all Bucs’ rushers with 79 yards rushing and a score; Graham also was the Bucs’ leading receiver with 5 receptions for 40 yards.
Atlanta QB Chris Redman had an absolutely awful outing, going only 4-of-15 for 34 yards with 2 INT’s. RB Jerious Norwood led all Falcons rushers with 73 yards on only 9 carries. Tampa Bay (9-5), with today’s victory, won the NFC South division. Next week, they travel west to take on the San Francisco 49ers, while Atlanta (3-11), losers of 5 straight, travel to Glendale, AZ to take on the Arizona Cardinals next week.