December 30, 2018 / 9:54 PM / 2 months ago

Bucs fall to Falcons, fire Koetter after game

EditorsNote: Updated head and Graphs 1 & 3 for Koetter being fired

Matt Bryant made a 37-yard field goal as time expired to give the visiting Atlanta Falcons a 34-32 victory Sunday in what turned out to be Dirk Koetter’s final game as Buccaneers head coach Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

The field goal was Bryant’s second of the game after a 49-yarder in the third quarter and gave the Falcons (7-9) a three-game winning streak to end the season despite trailing 17-0 late in the first half.

The Bucs (5-11) lost eight of their last 10 games, including the final four, and fell to 19-29 under Koetter, whom the club fired shortly after the game.

The Falcons’ Matt Ryan completed 31 of 44 passes for 378 yards and two touchdowns, and also caught a score on a trick play.

Jameis Winston had four touchdown passes for the Bucs, including a score with five minutes remaining, and was 22 of 35 for 345 yards and an interception.

Atlanta’s Julio Jones had nine catches for 138 yards and a touchdown, while Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans had six grabs for 106 yards and two scores.

The Falcons, scoring on their fifth straight possession, went up 31-20 early in the fourth quarter as Ryan passed 7 yards to Calvin Ridley for the rookie’s 10th TD on the season.

Evans scored on a 10-yard pass from Winston shortly thereafter, though, and the Bucs regained the lead on a 19-yard connection from Winston to Chris Godwin after Ryan was picked off by Andrew Adams.

The Bucs went for two points after both scores and failed each time.

Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu hit Ryan with a 5-yard pass to start the second half and the Falcons took their first lead at 24-20 late in the third quarter on a 23-yard run by Tevin Coleman.

That touchdown came after the game’s first turnover as Damontae Kazee got his seventh interception, picking off Winston’s deflected pass.

Tampa Bay went up 17-0 on Winston’s 30-yard strike to Godwin with 46 seconds remaining in the second quarter, but the Falcons finally got going on a 19-yard score from Ryan to Jones with 20 seconds left before halftime.

Winston completed 15 of 23 first-half passes for 210 yards and two scores, while the Falcons sputtered until their quick-strike 75-yard TD drive.

Evans, who finished the season with 1,524 yards, broke the Tampa Bay career record for receiving yardage with a 16-yard catch early on the Bucs’ second possession and then capped the 93-yard drive with a 19-yard TD grab.

Evans, 25, is the youngest of six players to reach 6,000 career receiving yards in their first five NFL seasons, joining Torry Holt, Randy Moss, Jerry Rice, Julio Jones and A.J. Green.

—Field Level Media

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