ATLANTA – The Buccaneers opened up the Dirk Koetter era with a 31-24 victory over their new head coach’s old team, the Atlanta Falcons, at the Georgia Dome on Sunday.
Here’s an instant analysis of what went down and how the victory came about.
After a rough start in which he missed badly on four of his first five throws, Winston found his rhythm in the second quarter and really came out humming to start the third.
He sandwiched a pair of 15- and 27-yard passes to Mike Evans around a 3-yard run by Doug Martin then threw a 30-yard dart to the back of the end zone to tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins to give the Bucs a 24-13 lead.
Moment that mattered I
With time running out in the first half, Winston dumped off a check down to running back Charles Sims on a second-and-3 play from the 23. Sims grabbed the ball at the 20, turned up field and proceeded to break three tackles before reaching the end zone to give the Bucs a 24-13 halftime lead.
Moment that mattered II
The Falcons were down two scores but beginning to regain their mojo early in the fourth quarter when Matt Ryan appeared to hit Julio Jones deep down the field for what appeared to be a 30-plus-yard reception well into Bucs territory. A perfectly timed hit by Bradley McDougald ended the threat, though, as McDougald’s hit jarred the ball loose from Jones hands.
The 4-yard catch tight end Brandon Myers made to tie the game at 10-10 early in the second quarter was Myers first TD catch as a Buccaneer. During his previous two seasons with the Bucs Myers caught 34 passes for 317 yards.
The Bucs lost left defensive end Jacquies Smith to a knee injury early in the game and he did not return. Smith hobbled off the field after suffering the injury covering a punt but he had to be carted off the sidelines.