It’s good to be 2-0 with a franchise-best 10-game streak and a good more impressive run of nine straight 30-plus point performances during a victory. The defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers insist, however, that they still haven’t played anywhere near up to their potential after pulling away within the fourth quarter to rout the Atlanta Falcons 48-25 on Sunday. “I think we’ve got tons to find out from,” coach Bruce Arians said. “It’s always better to find out from winning. I prefer the way we finished the sport .”
Tom Brady threw for 276 yards and five touchdowns, and Mike Edwards returned two of Tampa Bay’s three interceptions for TDs because the Bucs scored 30-plus points during a victory for an NFL-record ninth straight time. The 44-year-old quarterback was also a part of teams with New England that scored a minimum of 30 in eight straight wins in 2007 and 2010. “We were a touch loose with the ball. Some penalties at different times knocked us out of some scoring drives. Some missed throws and missed reads. I certainly wish I had made a couple of better throws,” Brady said.
“But it’s good to urge the win. 2-0,” the seven-time Super Bowl winner added. “There’s tons to create on.” Brady improved to 9-0 lifetime against the Falcons (0-2), who’ve lost seven during a row going back to last season, with three of these setbacks coming against the Bucs, who’ve outscored their NFC South rivals 124-62 over the past 10 quarters of these outings.
Rob Gronkowski caught a pair of TD passes for the third straight game, including the Super Bowl, as he and Brady continued to climb the career list for regular-season TDs by a passing duo with 88 – one behind Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates for second place. Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison are first with 112. Mike Evans also scored on receptions of three yards and 1 yard, the latter found out by Shaquil Barrett’s third-quarter interception of Matt Ryan, who fell to 0-6 against teams led by Brady, who rallied New England from a 28-3 deficit to beat Atlanta in Super Bowl 51.
Ryan, who tossed TD passes to Calvin Ridley and Cordarrelle Patterson before running for a 2-point conversion to trim an 18-point deficit to 28-25 late within the third, threw a pair of interceptions that Edwards returned for fourth-quarter TDs that broke the sport open. These guys kept returning, back, back,” Arthur Smith, Atlanta’s first-year coach said. “It’s a shame. You get in there, it’s a three-point game then it ends the way it does.
“When the score got out of hand, tons of that was on the offense, right? you’ll almost put four of these touchdowns – two of them needless to say, pick-6′s (on the offense),” Smith added. “Everybody feels sick once you see that box score, but there have been some positives.” Since trailing the Falcons 17-0 at halftime of their Week 15 meeting in Atlanta last December, Brady has thrown for 11 touchdowns vs. one interception in guiding the Bucs to 3 victories during a series that’s seen Tampa Bay win four of the past five meetings.
Gronkowski, who spent nine seasons with Brady in New England before the beginning of retirement to rejoin his long-time teammate with the Bucs last year, scored on receptions of 20 yards and 1 yard within the half . Brady’s fifth TD pass – a 12-yarder to Chris Godwin with just over nine minutes remaining, but the Bucs over 30 points for a ninth straight game. Edwards scored on interception returns of 31 yards and 15 yards to end the rout. Brady completed 24 of 38 passes without an interception. He was sacked 3 times, losing a fumble on one among them.
Ryan finished 35 of 46 for 300 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions. “Got it to a three-point game, and that we had some momentum, really did. Credit to them, they changed the tide,” Ryan said. “They did an honest job within the fourth quarter putting us away. I feel there are things we will improve, there are tons of things we will correct.” Former Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony.
Kiffin, credited with being the architect of the Tampa-2 scheme, led the Tampa Bay defense for 13 seasons from 1996 to 2008. He joins four defensive stars from the 2002 Bucs, who won the Super Bowl – Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, John Lynch, and Ronde Barber – as members of the Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium.
Jon Gruden, Mike Alstott, Lee Roy Selmon, Jimmie Giles, John McKay, Doug Williams, Malcolm Glazer, Paul Gruber, and Tony Dungy, who hired Kiffin in 1996, also are within the Ring of Honor. Falcons: WR Russell Gage (ankle) left within the second quarter but returned within the last half. … CB A.J. Terrell (concussion) left within the last half and didn’t return. Buccaneers: CB Carlton Davis III played after being listed as questionable with a sore hamstring. … WR/KR Jaydon Mickens was left with a hip injury within the last half.