Bucs-Falcons summary, Gradebook

Here is Sunday's scoring summary and statistics from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 37-3 win over the Atlanta Falcons, plus my position grades for the game:

Tampa Bay 37, Atlanta 3

First quarter

TB: Ronde Barber 29 interception return, 14:00.

Key play: Barber easily picked off an ill-advised pass to WR Michael Jenkins in the right flat for his 12th career touchdown return (including playoffs).

Tampa Bay 7, Atlanta 0

ATL: Morten Andersen 33 field goal, 6:32.

Drive: 7 plays, 59 yards, 3:24.

Key play: Falcons RB Jerious Norwood's 29-yard run put the Falcons in Bucs territory.

Tampa Bay 7, Atlanta 3

TB: Micheal Spurlock 90 kickoff return, 6:19.

Key play: Spurlock cut through great blocking toward the Bucs sideline for the first kickoff return for a touchdown in Tampa Bay history.

Tampa Bay 14, Atlanta 3

Second quarter

TB: Matt Bryant 33 field goal, 11:24

Drive: 14 plays, 57 yards, 8:24.

Key play: QB Jeff Garcia's 9-yard pass to WR Ike Hilliard converted a fourth down at the Falcons 33.

Tampa Bay 17, Atlanta 3

TB: Earnest Graham 1 run (Bryant kick), 4:09

Drive: 3 plays, 6 yards, 1:06.

Key play: Bucs DE Gaines Adams sacked Falcons QB Chris Redman and forced a fumble, recovered by Bucs DT Jovan Haye at the Falcons 6.

Tampa Bay 24, Atlanta 3

TB: Matt Bryant 28 field goal, :00

Drive: 6 plays, 16 yards, 55 seconds.

Key play: Bucs DE Greg White forced his seventh fumble of the season and recovered it in Falcons territory to force a turnover.

Tampa Bay 27, Atlanta 3

Third quarter

TB: Matt Bryant 34 field goal, 4:08.

Drive: 4 plays, 7 yards, 2:20.

Key play: Bucs S Jermaine Phillips picked off Redman in Falcons territory to force a change of possession.

Tampa Bay 30, Atlanta 3

Fourth quarter

TB: Anthony Becht 1 pass from Jeff Garcia (Bryant kick), 7:42

Drive: 8 plays, 55 yards, 5:08.

Key play: Bucs RB Michael Bennett had consecutive runs of 28 yards and 11 yards to start the drive and put the Bucs in the red zone.

Tampa Bay 37, Atlanta 3

Statistics

Rushing

Tampa Bay

Player — No. — Yds. — TD — Lg.

Earnest Graham — 22 — 79 — 1 — 8

Michael Bennett — 9 — 63 — 0 — 28

Michael Pittman — 13 — 50 — 0 — 17

Michael Clayton — 1 — 0 — 0 — 0

Bruce Gradkowski — 3 — -2 — -0.7 — 0

Totals — 48 — 190 — 1 — 28

Atlanta

Player — No. — Yds. — TD — Lg.

Jerious Norwood — 9 — 73 — 0 — 29

Warrick Dunn — 8 — 32 — 0 — 15

Chris Redman — 1 — 1 — 0 — 1

Ovie Mughelli — — 1 — 1 — 0 — 1

Jason Snelling — 1 — -1 — 0 — -1

Totals — 20 — 106 — 0 — 29

Passing

Tampa Bay

Player — Att. — Co. — Yds. — TD — INT

Jeff Garcia — 25 — 15 — 109 — 1 — 1

Totals — 25 — 15 — 109 — 1 — 1

Atlanta

Player — Att. — Co. — Yds. — TD — INT

Chris Redman — 15 — 4 — 34 — 0 — 2

Totals — 15 — 4 — 34 — 0 — 2

Receiving

Tampa Bay

Player — No. — Yds. — TD — Lg.

Earnest Graham — 5 — 40 — 0 — 13

Michael Pittman — 3 — 20 — 0 — 13

Michael Clayton — 2 — 22 — 0 — 11

Anthony Becht — 2 — 10 — 1 — 9

Ike Hilliard — 1 — 9 — 0 — 9

Joey Galloway — 1 — 7 — 0 — 7

Byron Storer — 1 — 1 — 0 — 1

Totals — 15 — 109 — 1 — 13

Atlanta

Player — No. — Yds. — Avg. — TD — Lg.

Laurent Robinson — 1 — 18 — 0 — 18

Warrick Dunn — 1 — 7 — 0 — 7

Michael Jenkins — 1 — 5 — 0 — 5

Roddy White — 1 — 4 — 0 — 4

Totals — 4 — 34 — 0 — 18

Missed field goals

None

Bucs Gradebook

Quarterback: B. A typically efficient day for Jeff Garcia, who really didn't factor into the game's outcome. He threw a meaningless interception, but his presence certainly bolstered the team's third-down efficiency rate and confidence.

Running backs: A. Earnest Graham had another scintillating outing, rushing for 79 yards and receiving for 40 yards. Michael Pittman looked sharp in his return after a month. Graham continues to impress with his ability to gain yards after the hit, and he's showing better cutting ability after the catch. Even Michael Bennett made an appearance with a 27-yard gain on his first carry and 63 rushing yards.

Wide receivers: B-. They really didn't have much to do today, and Joey Galloway inexplicably dropped several passes. The running backs did much of the heavy lifting, though, and as the Bucs had the lead the entire game head coach Jon Gruden didn't feel the need to test the Falcons downfield.

Offensive line: B. LT Donald Penn gave up another sack to Falcons DE John Abraham. But the Bucs were asked to run block most of the afternoon and that's exactly what they did. When this group is rolling downhill, they're hard to stop. The pass protection was adequate.

Defensive line: A. The unit put nice pressure on Falcons QB Chris Redman and bottled up the run game for the most part (Jerious Norwood broke off two big runs). Gaines Adams and Greg White each forced fumbles, leading to turnovers and points for the Buccaneers.

Linebackers: B. This wasn't the type of game that lends itself to great performances by the linebackers. But, overall, the unit was solid. Barrett Ruud came close to a turnover. The best thing they did was to make sure that what few plays made it to the second level didn't get very far.

Secondary: A. Ronde Barber picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown. Jermaine Phillips picked off a pass in the third quarter. In between, the unit gave up only 34 passing yards to QB Chris Redman and harassed the Falcons' receivers all day. One of their better performances of the season.

Special teams: A. You have to give them an A for Micheal Spurlock's streak-breaking kickoff return for a TD. But the entire unit played heads up. They recovered a pooch onside kick, Matt Bryant kicked three field goals and the Falcons mustered little in the return game.

Overall grade: A-. Don't get worried about Garcia's miniscule pass totals. He simply wasn't needed. The Bucs put together a great performance on defense and special teams. More importantly, they dominated and took advantage of a team that has had an awful and emotional week, which, if you're a playoff team, you're supposed to do. Earnest Graham needs a break after shouldering a lot of the load on Sunday. He should get it now that the division title is in hand.

Bucs at a glance

Record: 9-5.

Playoff pulse: Welcome back to the postseason, Bucs. A first-round home game is assured and the third seed is still in play.

What's coming up

Dec. 23: at San Francisco. The Bucs head out west, where the Pacific Ocean is like Kryptonite to them.


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