On a short turnaround, they did it again, defeating the Atlanta Falcons 41-28 at home and perhaps salvaging head coach Greg Schiano’s job in the process.
Running back Bobby Rainey rushed for two touchdowns, including a 43-yarder in the second quarter, to finish with 163 rushing yards on 30 carries. He added a receiving touchdown on a 4-yard pass to the outside in the third quarter.
Combined with some defensive heroics — a three-sack performance by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, a fumble recovery by safety Mark Barron and a pick-6 by middle linebacker Mason Foster — and an onside kick recovery on special teams, the Bucs put together their first complete performance of the season.
“We shut it out. Our offense ran the ball pretty well, we passed the ball pretty well, we got take-aways, some sacks — we played good as a football team. We got blocked punt, recovered an onside kick — we’re playing pretty good as a team right now,” said free safety Dashon Goldson, who finished with a forced fumble, an interception, two pass breakups and two tackles.
“This just shows you what the team has.”
On second-and-15 with 5:14 remaining in the first half, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan found Roddy White on a seam route on what would have resulted in a 16-yard gain, but Goldson knocked the ball lose with strong safety Mark Barron making the recovery at the Tampa Bay 47.
Quarterback Mike Glennon then threw a 20-yard dart to wide receiver Tiquan Underwood before running back Bobby Rainey punched in a 3-yard touchdown run, his second of the day.
On the Falcons’ previous offensive possession, strongside linebacker Dekoda Watson batted down Ryan’s pass intended for fullback Patrick DeMarco, with middle linebacker Mason Foster picking off Ryan and running it back 37 yards to score. It was Foster’s second interception returned for a touchdown this year, igniting a team that bore little resemblance to a 1-8 football club.
“We [were] just fed up,” Watson said about the turnaround. “I honestly think as a full defense we were just fed up. As good of players as we have and things like that, we just have to make sure we go out there and take full advantage of everything that we have out there.”
Watson also had a blocked punt to set up a 3-yard touchdown for Vincent Jackson, Jackson’s second touchdown of the game.
“It’s been frustrating. We’ve been a great team, but we haven’t been able to come up on top with it. As of late, like I said, we’re just fed up with it. We’re just out here grinding. We’re going to continue to show the world that we’re much more than what people consider us to be,” Watson added.