Game a tale of two halves for Tampa Bay defense
Rick Stroud, Tampa Bay Times, published 15 October 2018

It was the tale of two halves for the Bucs defense, which needs to put down the shovels because it keeps digging first-half holes for the offense. Against the Steelers, they trailed 30-7 at halftime. Against the Bears, it was 38-3. And on Sunday, the Bucs had few answers for the Falcons and quarterback Matt Ryan. The Falcons offense had 219 yards and three touchdowns on its first three drives and scored on four of its first five possessions to build 21-6 lead.

"We got them in third-and-long, but we couldn't get off the field in the first half,'' coach Dirk Koetter said. "They finished 8-for-12 on third down, but in the first half, they did a good job when it was third-and-9, third-and-17. we couldn't get off the field.''

Ryan has owned Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith, his former head coach in Atlanta. He is 4-1 with four, 300-yard games, 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. On Sunday, Ryan completed 31 of 41 passes for 354 yards with three TDs and no INTs. He was only sacked once. But in the second half, the Falcons had only 195 yards on seven drives, with one TD and two field goals.

"We pressured a lot more today,'' coach Dirk Koetter said. "We hit Matt a few times. He hung in there and made some nice throws, but we couldn't get off. The second half, the defense did an excellent job getting off the field. The first two possessions, man, we were right down there and we came up with three points. We can't play the tale of two halves. We can't do that.''

No chemistry with Jackson
Stop us if you've heard this before. Winston had trouble getting the football to WR DeSean Jackson, who was targeted nine times Sunday but caught only four passes for 77 yards. Once again, one of the deep balls launched in Jackson's direction Sunday was off target and intercepted.

"Yeah, he was just trying to make a play,'' Jackson said. "It's unfortunate the safety was back there. As a receiver, you like your quarterback to take chances, you just can't get them picked off.''

DT Gerald McCoy suffered a right calf injury and was in a walking boot after the game. CB Ryan Smith suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter and did not return.