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Falcons - Buccaneers Week 18 instant recap: Capping off the year with a fun win

Atlanta caps off the season with an uneven effort that featured some great moments.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images

The Falcons came into this game with very little to play for except pride and progress, and the Buccaneers came into it looking to stay healthy and warm up for the postseason. The outcome was ultimately meaningless for both teams, but both wanted a good showing.

The Falcons were up and down early, pairing a couple of nice stops and one stellar long drive from the offense with a lot of frustration and some frustrating Ridder errors. When Tom Brady left the game it figured to make life easier for the defense and did—they largely slowed Tampa Bay after that point—but the offense also caught fire in the second half as the Buccaneers let off the gas on both sides of the ball. The win got the Falcons to 7-10 and tied their 2021 mark, but it also gave us a fun Sunday. That’s really all we can ask for at this point.

Sweeping conclusions would be a mistake, given that Tampa Bay was down starters and pulled others, so we’re not here to do that. The Falcons have a lot of work to do this spring and summer to be able to legitimately beat a team like Tampa Bay by multiple scores on even footing, and that work is right around the corner. For Sunday, it was just fun to watch this team do some good things, put up 20-plus points, and beat a Tom Brady-led team even if there was a huge asterisk on it thanks to Brady exiting.

That’s the end of the 2022 season, and all the big moves and big questions are right ahead of us. Knowing that the Falcons have something to build on with Drake London, Tyler Allgeier, this offensive line, and maybe Desmond Ridder is a nice grace note for an up-and-down season, though. Let’s hope this is the last time we have to see Atlanta finish the year with a losing record for a long, long time, and here’s your quick recap.

1st Quarter

The Buccaneers took it to about the 30 yard line on the opening kickoff. The opening carry for Rachaad White went nowhere thanks to Rashaan Evans, but then Tom Brady found Chris Godwin down the sideline for at least 15 yards. A quick pass on first down picked up seven yards, and then White picked up a few for a first down. The next play featured some misdirection that fooled the Falcons and led to a big gain to get the Bucs within striking distance. Isaiah Oliver then broke up the first down pass. White picked up several on second down, and then on third down Brady found Cade Otton under pressure for a first. The next first down carry went nowhere, and on a blitz on second down Brady found Kyle Rudolph for a touchdown. 7-0 Buccaneers. Groan.

Tyler Allgeier was swallowed up on first down. On second down, they went nowhere. And on third down, Ridder was takent down swiftly for a sack and a big loss. Punt.

Brady found Leonard Fournette for four yards on first down. The ball was knocked out of Russell Gage’s hands on second down, and then Brady overthrew Gage on third down with pressure in his face. Punt.

Ridder targeted Drake London deep on first down but the ball was underthrown and London was crunched (maybe a touch early) and couldn’t come up with it. Allgeier picked up five on second down and then Ridder to London produced 26 yards and a first down. Cordarrelle Patterson got yardage but there was a call, and then Allgeier picked up 17 on a nice, well-blocked run. Allgeier then chained that together with another physical first down run to get Atlanta inside the 10 yard line. On first down, Ridder threw it away under pressure, and Allgeier got hit but still picked up about four yards on second down. MyCole Pruitt then knocked down a defender, got himself open, and made a nice jumping grab for Ridder’s first NFL touchdown. 7-7 tie.

The Buccaneers didn’t get much of anywhere before Godwin caught a pass and fumbled it, with Richie Grant punching it out on a hell of a heads-up play. Turnover.

The deep ball from Ridder to Olamide Zaccheaus in the end zone was way off on first down. A quick screen to Patterson lost yardage, leaving the Falcons in a third and long situation. Allgeier picked up six yards on his carry to set up a field goal. Koo nailed it to make it 10-7 Falcons.

The Buccaneers went to Chris Godwin twice for about eight yards, and that ended the quarter.

2nd Quarter

Brady had pressure getting near but found a falling Godwin for a first down. Gio Bernard took it three yards on first down, and then five more on second down, and then Gage picked up a first down. The Buccaneers kept rolling—third downs were unsurprisingly a trouble spot—before a huge Grady Jarrett tackle for loss on first down and timely Dee Alford tackle made it third and short. The Falcons allowed the fourth down conversion, but a holding call on the Buccaneers backed it up. Ryan Succop hit the field goal try to tie it up, though. 10-10.

Ridder threw it too high to Pruitt on the sideline on first down, and then Allgeier only got maybe a yard on second down. Ridder got away from pressure and scrambled for eight yards on third down, but that was shy of a first down. Punt.

A two yard gain on first down was followed by a Gage drop on a ball a bit behind him. A.J. Terrell drilled Ke’Shawn Vaughn on third down to ensure the drive ended. Punt.

Allgeier got three yards on first down, and on second down the ball slipped out of Ridder’s hand and was picked up by Tampa Bay. Turnover.

On first down, Blaine Gabbert entered the game for Tom Brady, and he just missed a deep shot over the middle. On second down, he hit Thompkins for a quick gain, and he survived a tackle attempt from Isaiah Oliver to pick up a first down. A short gain followed by an illegal shift call and a pickup by Gage got the Bucs close to scoring. Gage then snagged the touchdown grab to end the drive, holding on despite a ton of contact. 17-10 Buccaneers.

Allgeier took it for four yards on first down, and then Ridder found Damiere Byrd for about a yard. On third down, Ridder tucked it after not finding an open man (though Zaccheaus appeared to come open shortly thereafter) and ran out of bounds. Punt.

The Buccaneers used the rest of the clock. Halftime.

3rd Quarter

The Falcons began their drive with (who else?) Tyler Allgeier, who picked up nine and then got the first down on his next touch. Then Ridder hit a dart to London over the middle. On the next play, Ridder launched one deep to MyCole Pruitt for a huge gain to get the Falcons inside the 20. Allgeier took it 22 yards on the next play. Allgeier got a couple, and then a flip to Allgeier as Ridder was being taken down was nearly fumbled and went for a loss. Then Ridder just missed on third down to Zaccheaus, forcing the field goal try. 17-13 Buccaneers.

On first down the Buccaneers got a yard, and then Cornell Armstrong nearly picked off the second down pass. Nothing doing on third down and the Bucs punted it away.

Ridder threw yet another bullet to London for a first down over the middle, and then Allgeier picked up 13 yards for another first down. London reeled in another one short of the first down marker, and thankfully he was down before the ball popped out. Allgeier got a yard on second down, but was stopped short of a first down on third down. The Falcons went for it on fourth down, and after Ridder evaded pressure for what felt like a full 30 seconds, he hit Anthony Firkser for a first down. He then got Parker Hesse for six yards, and then Patterson picked up about six on the ground. Pruitt snagged a screen for a few yards, and then Allgeier got a couple of yards to get to 3rd and 2. Allgeier passed 1,000 yards on a first down carry. Ridder couldn’t get London on first down, and then Patterson picked up about three yards to make third down and goal more manageable. Ridder then hit Olamide Zaccheaus in the end zone for an easy touchdown as the Falcons took the lead back. 20-17 Falcons.

On the first play for the Bucs, a quick pass out to the back led to a seven yard loss thanks to Lorenzo Carter. The next carry through the middle picked up a couple of yards.

4th Quarter

Then a big effort from Thopmkins picked up a few yards but fell well short of a first down. Punt.

The Falcons started things off with Ridder escaping pressure and connecting with Tyler Allgeier, but a holding call on Kaleb McGary brought that back. Zaccheaus then reeled one in to pick up about 10 yards, making it 3rd and 6. Then Ridder launched it on third down and hit London 40 yards downfield for a huge gain. Allgeier picked up several yards on first down, and then Ridder drilled one to Frank Darby for a first down. Patterson didn’t get any yardage on first down, and then Ridder dumped it off to Patterson for a few yards on second down. Ridder then threw a laser to London for a first down and got the Falcons close to the end zone. Patterson jogged into the end zone on the next play to exstend Atlanta’s lead. 27-17 good guys.

Kyle Trask came in and immediately looked downfield, having no success against A.J. Terrell, and the Bucs got just four yards before punting.

Ridder went to Josh Ali deep and didn’t connect. Then Allgeier got excellent blocking and did the rest, taking it over 20 yards on the ground. A short run, an intentional grounding call that was a bit surprising, and a big gain by Zaccheaus led to a 4th and 4 that was converted by a sharp Ridder throw to OZ just past the sticks. Allgeier picked up a couple of yards, then Ridder couldn’t find Patterson on second down. Ridder looked for Zaccheaus and it was just a little high on third down. Koo hit the 51 yarder, though. 30-17 Falcons.

The Bucs just wanted to get out of there, picking up eight yards on 3rd and 2. A first down throw was followed by a Trask deep shot that didn’t connect, thanks to nice coverage by Cornell Armstrong. The Bucs kept going for it through the air but turned it over on downs.

To end the game, the Falcons put Logan Woodside in.