A tumultuous season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and QB Jameis Winston ended in the only poetic way it could Sunday, with Winston throwing a pick-6 in overtime (his 30th interception of the year) to give the Atlanta Falcons a 28-22 victory in Week 17 action.
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It was a tale of two tackles for Atlanta: The long-time veteran quietly going about his business with an exceptional game in Jake Matthews, and the rookie having his hands full with the Buccaneers edge rushers in Kaleb McGary. Atlanta didn't draft McGary to be a star from day one, but next year the patience will start to wear thin if he doesn't start to play better.
A so-so day for Matt Ryan, who ends a disappointing year with a performance that was just about good enough. Ryan was keener than usual to throw the ball away, which saw him avoid turnover-worthy plays, but there was also a continuation of a lack of big-time throws. Fans will be interested to see if is a one-year blip or symptomatic of a decline in his ability.
An interesting day for Deion Jones. The Falcons defensive leader was largely absent as the Buccaneers had success on the ground, but he ultimately made the game-defining play when he read the intentions of Jameis Winston for the overtime pick-6. Jones hasn't hit the heights of his fantastic sophomore campaign, but he's bounced back nicely after missing most of 2018 injured.
Is this the end of Vic Beasley in Atlanta? He'll hit free agency as a one-time NFL sack leader, but also as a guy who has struggled to consistently generate pressure. As a pass-rusher he had one of his games against Tampa Bay where you'd struggle to know he rushed the passer 26 times, so few and far between were his wins.
It was fitting that in a season of big plays, both good and bad, Jameis Winston saw his come to an end with a game-decider. Winston's day was littered with plays that didn't match up with the stat sheet — an interception saved when his receiver turned defensive back, a pass turned interception with a miscommunication, and a touchdown on what resembled more of a Hail Mary than a pinpoint pass. Ultimately everything about this game encapsulated his year with plenty of good, plenty of bad, and plenty of mystifying.
Step forward Breshad Perriman. The one-time first-round pick turn first-round bust showed his pedigree by continuing his strong finish to the year. Though a nonfactor in the second half somewhat, his first half was about as good as you'll see from a receiver as he bailed his quarterback out and made a number of big plays. The talent he has displayed the past six weeks of the year, especially the last two, suggests a decent-sized deal and starting spot await him in free agency.
A fantastic year for Shaquil Barrett, but much like most of his year the sack numbers didn't really indicate the consistency of the pressure he was generating, or the nature of how he was getting the sacks he got. It will be telling what kind of deal Barrett gets in free agency, and whether his NFL sack title gets him a boost.
First-round pick Devin White looked to set the Buccaneers on their way to victory with his scoop and score, but outside of that he was largely a nonfactor other of a couple of missed tackles. His rookie season hasn't hit the heights Bucs fans would have hoped for.