The Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday did what world champions who want to repeat do. They went on the road and beat an inferior division opponent by double digits to put a stranglehold on the NFC South crown and keep alive their very real chances of a conference top seed. It was a five-star 30-17 triumph for the Bucs over the Atlanta Falcons
A five-star win is deserving of the five biggest reasons for the victory. Luckily for Tampa Bay, there were plenty of choices as they improved to 9-3 on the season.
One star goes to the biggest name in the game. Quarterback Tom Brady shredded the Falcons defense to the tune of 368 yards passing and four touchdowns. The only way the Falcons could reach the end zone after the first quarter was through the charity of a late second quarter Brady pick six that wound up only hurting his statistics.
A second star belongs to wide receiver Chris Godwin, who obviously enjoys playing in Atlanta. His previous yardage high was 184 in 2019 on the road against the Falcons. On Sunday, he caught 143 yards worth of passes on a team record and NFL season high 15 receptions.
Wide receiver Mike Evans put up seven catches for 99 yards and would normally be worthy of a star, but another pass catcher showed up big for the Bucs. Tight end Rob Gronkowski caught two touchdown passes, moving the combo of he and Brady to second all-time in regular season end zone hookups. That was half of his four catches for 58 yards on the day.
The last two stars are representative of the pressure the Bucs defensive line put on the Falcons Matt Ryan all day long. One star each goes to Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh, who both posted two sacks apiece and shut down Atlanta’s run game after it was effective early on. Tampa Bay had a total of 5 sacks on the day in the victory, which always helps against an offensive team like Atlanta.