Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeat the Atlanta Falcons, improve to first in division

On December 10, 2023, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, tight end Cade Otton celebrates a game-winning touchdown during the divisional game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went from having a 1-6 post-bye record to fourth in the NFC playoff picture in a matter of weeks.

The Atlanta Falcons were 6-6 and leading the NFC South with a 3-0 divisional record going into their Week 14 matchup. The Falcons had a chance to take a significant lead in the postseason race with a victory over the Buccaneers after facing the New Orleans Saints in Week 13.

Rather, the roles were reversed, and the Buccaneers won 29-25 to improve to 6-7. The game featured a strong defensive effort and a strong offensive display when it mattered most. The Buccaneers completed the task, despite it not being simple.

After a fruitful opening drive, Tampa Bay made a statement to start the game with a 55-yard field goal. At the conclusion of the first quarter, the Falcons responded with a successful 20-yard field goal to tie the score.

When the Falcons had their second possession, Carlton Davis of the Buccaneers defense made a big play by intercepting a pass meant for running back Bijan Robinson from Desmond Ridder. Following the ball’s return for a six-point gain took the field well within the red zone.

Mayfield ran the ball into the end zone a few plays later to give the Buccaneers a 10-3 lead. With a spectacular 36-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Pitts, Ridder retaliated.

The Buccaneers’ defense brought down Ridder for a safety just before the two-minute warning, breaking the game’s potential to be tied at the half. Tampa Bay had a 12-10 lead at the half.

The Buccaneers offense took a while to get going after halftime. Following several three-and-outs and a blunder by Mayfield and Chris Godwin, Rachaad White’s 31-yard touchdown run signaled the start of the running game.

The Falcons started to rally from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter after a drive that featured a lot of running ended with a touchdown by Robinson.

After the Bucs made a field goal to increase their lead, the Falcons turned the tide of the game with a touchdown and two-point conversion with three minutes left.

Mayfield, though, wasn’t done yet and led a 12-play, 75-yard drive that ended with tight end Cade Otton scoring an 11-yard touchdown pass.

The Buccaneers defense turned the tide and came through with a stop in a situation that was reminiscent of a defeat to the Houston Texans in early November.

With this victory, the Buccaneers are in charge of their own fate. There would be an NFC playoff game in Tampa Bay if the playoffs began today.

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