Posted in Game Previews

Game Preview: Week 13 Falcons vs Bucs

by Staff Report on December 5, 2010


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have their second-ever “Throwback Game.” It marks the second time in almost 13 years that the team will don their Florida Orange jerseys. In conjunction with the Throwback Game, the team will induct former Buccaneers Head Coach John McKay into the Buccaneers Ring of Honor, which is prominently displayed at Raymond James Stadium and recognizes the individuals who have made the most significant contributions to the history of the franchise.

McKay will join Hall of Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon as the second member of the Buccaneers Ring of Honor. Known for his unprecedented success on the football field and his sense of humor off of it, McKay was named the first head coach in Buccaneers history on October 31, 1975, where he coached for nine seasons (1976-84). In 1979, just the franchise’s fourth season, McKay led Tampa Bay to an NFC Central Division championship, a playoff win over Philadelphia, and the club’s first appearance in the NFC Championship Game. He also led the Buccaneers to consecutive playoff appearances in 1981 and 1982, including their second NFC Central Division championship in 1981.

The Buccaneers will again wear uniforms meant to replicate the team’s very first look from its inaugural season in 1976. The Florida Orange, red and white combination changed subtly over the years that followed, but the Glazer family conducted painstaking research in order to faithfully replicate that 1976 uniform. Digging through historical archives and enlisting the help of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Buccaneers Co-Chairman Ed Glazer worked out the minute details of the uniform, from head to toe, even though the actual equipment from that era was fraught with inconsistency. In the end, a Mike Washington jersey from 1976 helped establish the uniform’s dimensions and stitching and a Council Rudolph jersey from 1977 helped establish the perfect color matches. Glazer also relied on team photo archives, old NFL Films footage, other uniform samples and more.

The Buccaneers wore “Florida Orange” jerseys, the primary color adopted by the team when it began play in 1976, with red and white trim and white pants with orange and red stripes along with the famous Buccaneer helmet with its pirate head logo, Bucco Bruce. Of note, the orange jerseys were worn just once during the 1976 season, in a preseason game.

Series Information
The Buccaneers lead the all-time series 18-16 and have won six of the last 12 meetings with the Falcons. Since the NFC South was created in 2002, the Buccaneers own a 9-8 series edge, including season sweeps in 2002, 2005 and 2007, on the way to NFC South titles. Tampa Bay is 11-7 all-time at home against the Falcons, including wins in four of the last six meetings at Raymond James Stadium. The two teams first met in 1977, with Atlanta notching a 17-0 win at Tampa Stadium (11/27/77). The Bucs picked up their first win the next season, a 14-9 victory that evened Tampa Bay’s record at 2-2, marking the first time the club hit the .500 mark. Tampa Bay’s 48- 10 home victory to open the 1987 season represents the most points ever scored by a Buccaneer squad in the regular season, a mark that was later tied. Tampa Bay also posted a six-game winning streak in the series, begin­ning with a victory in 1997. This season, the Falcons won the first meeting between the two teams at the Georgia Dome, 27-21 (11/7/10).

GAME INFORMATION
Date: Sunday, December 5, 2010
Kickoff: 4:15 p.m. ET
Site: Raymond James Stadium (65,890)
2010 Records: Tampa Bay 7-4, Atlanta 9-2
Network Television: FOX
Play-by-Play: Dick Stockton, Analyst: Charles Davis, Sideline: Laura Okmin
Bucs Radio: US 103.5, flagship station (103.5 FM, 620 AM)
Play-by-Play: Gene Deckerhoff, Color: Dave Moore, Sideline: T.J. Rives
National Radio: Compass Radio Network
Play-by-Play: Chris Carrino, Color: Brian Baldinger
Last Game: Tampa Bay lost at Baltimore, 17-10; Atlanta defeated Green Bay, 20-17

SERIES BY THE NUMBERS
Overall Regular Season Series:…………….Tampa Bay leads series, 18-16
Home Record vs. Atlanta Falcons:…………………………………………11-7
Road Record vs. Atlanta Falcons:……………………………………………7-9
Current Streak:………………………………… Falcons, four games (2008-10)
Buccaneers Longest Streak:……………………….. Six games (1997-2003)
Falcons Longest Streak:……………………………….. Four games (2008-10)
Regular Season Point Total:………………… Buccaneers 702 – Falcons 583
Most Points, Buccaneers:…………………….. 48, Buccaneers 48-10 (1987)
Most Points, Falcons:………………………………….43, Falcons 43-7 (1991)
Most Points, both teams:…………….. 58, twice, last Falcons 30-28 (2003)
Fewest Points, Buccaneers:…………………………..0, Falcons 17-0 (1976)
Fewest Points, Falcons:………………………….. 0, Buccaneers 27-0 (2004)
Fewest Points, both teams:……………17, twice, last Falcons 14-3 (2006)

Undrafted Players
Eighteen of the teams’ current fifty-three players (34%) entered the NFL as undrafted free agents. The list includes both starting offensive tackles, the main cog in the teams rushing attack, punter, kicker, long snapper and the team’s main kick and punt returner.

Youngest Average 53 Man Roster
Team Yrs Days
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25 264
Carolina Panthers 25 356
Jacksonville Jaguars 26 99
Indianapolis Colts 26 134
Philadelphia Eagles 26 154

Going Deep
After finishing the 2009 season ranked 20th with 40 pass completions of 20+ yards, five of which resulted in touchdowns, the Buccaneers, led by QB Josh Free­man already have 34 completions of 20+ yards in 2010 with six of those going for scores. The team currently is tied for the 12th-most pass comple­tions of 20+ yards and is tied for the 12th most 20+ yard touchdown passes in the NFL. From 2000-09, the Bucs averaged just 37 receptions of 20 or more yards per season and are on pace for 50 this season.

The Buccaneers are also one of five teams in the NFL, and one of two teams in the NFC, to have five different players catch a pass of 40+ yards (San Di­ego and Oakland have seven players and Cleveland and Seattle have five) this season.

Players To Watch
Legarrette Blount

Looking for a spark in the running game, the Buccaneers turned to undrafted rookie free agent RB LeGarrette Blount. Blount answered, providing an immediate impact, as he ranks among the league leaders in rushing for rookie running backs and has been nominated for Rookie of the Week twice.

He is currently tied for first in touchdowns (4), second in rushing yards (496), tied for second in yards per carry (4.4) and first in yards per game (62.0) among rookie running backs. He also has the longest rush (48 yards) of any rookie this season.

Since receiving the lions share of carries starting in week seven, Blount has amassed 466 rushing yards on 104 carries for an average of 4.48 per carry and three touchdowns for an a average of 77.7 yards per game.

Josh Freeman
This season, Freeman has been Mr. Third-Down, completing 58 of 96 pass attempts for 642 yards, three touchdowns and a completion percentage of 60.4% with one interception and a quarterback rating of 86.4%. Of those 58 completions 36 have resulted in the Bucs picking up a first down. Freeman also currently ranks first in the NFC in fourth quarter passer rating (97.7) with a minimum of 30 attempts. His five interceptions are tied for the second fewest by any quarterback with at least 170 pass attempts this season.

This season, Freeman has led the team to convert at least 40.0 percent of their third-down attempts in eight of the first 11 games, with five consecutive to start the season. It marked the first time in franchise history the team has had five consecutive games with at least a 40.0 percent third-down conversion rate.

On the year, he currently ranks seventh in the NFC in third down passer rating and has thrown just one interception on a third down play. His legs have been just as productive on third downs, as 19 of Freeman’s 45 runs this year have come on third down, with 15 of those resulting in first downs. Seven of his 16 third down scrambles have come on third-and-nine or longer. In just 11 games, Freeman has already converted four third-and-fours, four third-and-one’s, two third-and-11s, two third-and-nine’s, a third-and-16, a third-and seven and a third-and-three by running.

Mike Williams
In this year’s draft, 12 wide receivers were taken ahead of 2010 fourth-round draft pick (101st overall) WR Mike Williams. Though Williams wasn’t drafted highly, his talent and production on the field is leading some experts to consider him the “steal of the draft” and a possible Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate. Through his first 11 games as a pro, Williams has already been up for NFL Rookie of the Week five times, all but one after a Buccaneers victory.

Williams currently has the 11th-most receiving yards in the NFC and 20th most in the NFL. Among rookie receivers, Williams is currently first in receptions (45), first in receiving yards (701) and tied for first in receiving touchdowns (6).He is the only rookie in Buccaneers history to have 10+ receptions, 100+ receiving yards and 2+ touchdowns in first three games of career. He currently sits at number five for receptions by a Buccaneer rookie receiver, third in receiving yards, and in second place with six receiving touchdowns as a rookie.

Aqib Talib
Joining the Buccaneers with the lofty expectations that accompany the highest cornerback ever selected in the NFL Draft by the team (20th overall in 2008), CB Aqib Talib lived up to the hype in his rookie season and continued to have success in his first year as a full time starter last season.

In 2009, Talib finished tied for the most interceptions on the team and tied for the 12th most in the NFL with five. Through 11 games this season, Talib leads the team and is tied for second in the NFL with six interceptions.

In three seasons, Talib has 15 career interceptions, tied for the fourth-most in the NFL in that span and the most of any player entering the league in 2008.

Ronde Barber
In his 14th season with the Buccaneers, CB Ronde Barber is widely regarded as one of the NFL’s most versatile cornerbacks. Below is a breakdown of some of Barber’s accolades:

  • Earned his fifth career Pro Bowl selection in 2008.
  • Selected to AP All-Pro team five times, including three first team selections (2001, 2004-05).
  • Has collected 100 or more tackles in five of his past seven seasons.
  • Since joining Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers defense has finished ranked in the Top 10 in the NFL in total defense in 11 of his 13 seasons and in the Top 5 on eight occasions.
  • With under two-minutes left in the first half of Week 1 against Cleveland (9/12), recorded his 38th ca­reer interception, returning it 64 yards, third-lon­gest interception return of his career.
  • In Week 4 of 2009 at Washington (10/4/09) blocked the first PAT of his career becoming first player in team history to record a blocked PAT, blocked punt (12/2/01 at Cincinnati) and blocked field goal (10/19/03 vs. San Francisco) during his career.
  • Last season, became the first cornerback in NFL his­tory and just the second player all-time to record 30 career interceptions and 25 career sacks when he posted the 25th sack of his career at Atlanta (11/29/09).
  • This season, became the first player in NFL histo­ry to record 40 career interceptions and 25 career sacks when he posted the 40th interception of his career at San Francisco (11/21/10).
  • He is also the only player in NFL history to record 25 sacks and 35 interceptions and one of only four players in NFL history to record 20 sacks and 30 interceptions.
  • Became the franchise’s all-time leader in inter­ceptions when he collected the 32nd of his career against Washington (11/25) in 2007.
  • Tied for first in the NFL with 10 interceptions in 2001 and recorded multiple interceptions every year from 1998-2008.
  • Barber has started more consecutive games (178) than any other current cornerback in the NFL, starting every game at cornerback since Week 10 against Atlanta (11/21) in 1999.
  • His 204 career games played are second in team history, and his 195 career starts rank second in team annals.
  • His 178 consecutive starts are most in the NFL among active cornerbacks and third among all ac­tive players.

INJURY REPORT

ATLANTA FALCONS
Questionable
RB Antone Smith (hamstring)
RB Jason Snelling (hanstring)
Probable
DE John Abraham (groin)
DE Kory Biermann (ankle)
WR Michael Jenkins (quadriceps)
LB Curtis Lofton (knee)
S William Moore (thigh)
WR Eric Weems (pectoral)
WR Roddy White 9knee)

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Questionable
LB Quincy Black (ankle)
LB Dekoda Watson (hamstring)
Probable
TE Kellen Winslow (knee)
LB Barrett Ruud (back)
RB Carnell Williams (ribs)

ENEMY COACHES
Falcons Head Coach: Mike Smith
Falcons Offensive Coordinator: Mike Mularkey
Falcons Defensive Coordinator: Brian Van Gorder
Falcons Special Teams Coach: Keith Armstrong

STATISTICAL RANKINGS:
ATLANTA FLACONS OFFENSE
Overall: 10th (364.4 ypg)
Rushing: 8th (127.9 ypg)
Passing: 13th (236.5 ypg)
Sacks Allowed: 7th (17)
Points Scored: 7th (25.1 ppg)
ATLANTA FALCONS DEFENSE
Overall: 20th (346.6 ypg)
Rushing: 6th (93.7 ypg)
Passing: 27th (252.9 ypg)
Sacks: 26th (19)
Points Allowed: 7th (19.0 ppg)

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS OFFENSE
Overall: 23rd (319.4 ypg)
Rushing: 13th (116.3 ypg)
Passing: 24th (203.1 ypg)
Sacks Allowed: 10th (20)
Points Scored: 23rd (29.9 ppg)
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS DEFENSE
Overall: 15th (338.4 ypg)
Rushing: 27th (132.5 ypg)
Passing: 9th (205.9 ypg)
Sacks: 28th (18)
Points Allowed: 9th (20.3 ppg)

Buc Central’s Prognostication:
As always we are not advocating gambling based on our views of the game, especially considering we typically are inclined to make such educated guesses using are heart rather the any rational thought applied to picking. We are merely giving an opinion of who we think has the best chance at securing a victory.

FALCONS 23
BUCS 29

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