WON - Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24 Atlanta Falcons 09
THe Buccaneers held their home opener facing their second division game, against the Atlanta Falcons. Quarterback Jeff Garcia was inactive due to an ankle injury. However, rumors persisted during the week that the relationship between head coach Jon Gruden and Garcia had broken down after a poor performance the week before, and after preseason distractions due to a nagging injury, and the team's rumored interest in acquiring Brett Favre. Back-up quarterback Brian Griese, who last played at Tampa Bay in 2005, started. Derrick Brooks, who also was nursing injury, was activated and started the game to keep his consecutive games started streak (209) alive.
On the first drive of the game, Atlanta started at their own 23. On the third play of the game, Aqib Talib intercepted Matt Ryan, and returned the ball to the 19. Five plays later, Brian Griese connected with John Gilmore for a 5-yard touchdown.
Early in the second quarter, Tampa Bay started a 12-play, 81-yard drive at their own 19-yard line. On first & goal at the Atlanta 8-yard line, Earnest Graham rushed for an apparent 8-yard touchdown, but it was called back for a holding penalty. After losing ground and facing 3rd & goal at the 17, Warrick Dunn rumbled 17 yards, breaking several tackles for a touchdown. It was Dunn's first score since returning to the team. After a kickoff, Atlanta started their next drive at the 22-yard line. After two incompletions, on third down, Ryan was intercepted by Sabby Piscitelli, who returned the ball to the 17-yard line. Matt Bryant capped off the turnover with a field goal, and a 17–0 lead. Atlanta finally got onto the scoreboard with 12 seconds remaining in the half, with a Jason Elam field goal.
Early in the fourth quarter, Atlanta trailed 17–6. Facing 3rd & 8 at their own 19-yard line, an unusual play occurred. Matt Ryan completed a 20-yard pass to Roddy White. White fumbled, and it was recovered by Sabby Piscitelli of the Buccaneers. Piscitelli then ran 3 yards and attempted a lateral to Cato June. The lateral was actually an illegal forward pass, and fell incomplete to the ground. Thought to be a live ball, it was recovered once more by Atlanta, meanwhile a flag for a personal foul by Tampa Bay was also on the field. After several minutes of confusion and discussion by the officials, they awarded the ball to Atlanta at the Tampa Bay 48-yard line. Atlanta continued the drive and managed a field goal, trimming the lead to 17–9.
Late in the fourth quarter, Earnest Graham iced the game with a 68-yard touchdown run, and a final score of 24–9.
- REFEREE: Jeff Triplette
- UMPIRE: Jim Quirk
- HEAD LINESMAN: Steve Stelljes
- LINE JUDGE: Michael Spanier
- SIDE JUDGE: David Wyant
- BACK JUDGE: Steve Freeman
- FIELD JUDGE: Boris Cheek
- REPLAY OFFICAL: Lloyd McPeters
- VIDEO OPERATOR: Not Documented
- BUCCANEERS: 12:37-1Q Gilmore 5 pass from Griese (Bryant kick)
- BUCCANEERS: 11:08-2Q Dunn 17 run (Bryant kick)
- BUCCANEERS: 9:07-2Q Bryant FG33
- FALCONS: 0:12-2Q Elam FG32
- FALCONS: 1:03-3Q Elam FG27
- FALCONS: 5:12-4Q Elam FG24
- BUCCANEERS: 3:08-4Q Graham 68 run (Bryant kick)
- WR: #84 J. Galloway
- LT: #70 D. Penn
- LG: #78 A. Sears
- C: #52 J. Faine
- RG: #76 J. Zuttah
- RT: #65 J. Trueblood
- TE: #81 A. Smith
- TE: #88 J. Gilmore
- QB: #08 B. Griese
- RB: #34 E. Graham
- WR: #89 A. Bryant
- LE: #93 K. Carter
- DT: #95 C. Hovan
- DT: #71 J. Haye
- RE: #90 G. Adams
- SLB: #59 C. June
- MLB: #51 B. Ruud
- WLB: #55 D. Brooks
- LCB: #20 R. Barber
- RCB: #31 P. Buchanon
- SS: #23 J. Phillips
- FS: #28 T. Jackson
- 3 Bryant, 9 Bidwell, 10 Jackson, 19 Hilliard, 21 Piscitelli, 25 Talib, 26 Allen, 28 Dunn, 35 Askew, 43 Mack, 44 Storer, 48 Economos, 54 Hayes, 57 Hayward, 58 Black, 71 Haye, 79 Mahan, 80 Clayton, 83 Troupe, 91 White, 97 Wilkerson, 98 Sims
DID NOT PLAY
- 12 McCown
- 7 Garcia, 11 Johnson, 29 Bennett, 50 McCoy, 75 Joseph, 77 Lee, 85 Stovall, 96 Peterson
- BUCCANEERS: Graham 15-116, Dunn 12-49, Griese 1-(-1).
- FALCONS: Turner 14-42, Douglas 1-33, Norwood 6-18, Ryan 6-10, White 1-2.
- BUCCANEERS: Griese 31-18-160-0-1.
- FALCONS: Ryan 33-13-158-2-0.
- BUCCANEERS: Hilliard 4-41, Dunn 3-21, Askew 3-1, Gilmore 2-41, Smith 2-20, Galloway 2-18, Graham 1-12, Clayton 1-1.
- FALCONS: White 4-59, Robinson 4-45, Douglas 2-34, Norwood 1-8, Mughelli 1-6, Turner 1-6.
- BUCCANEERS: Piscitelli 1-22, Talib 1-2.
- FALCONS: none
- BUCCANEERS: D.Jackson 2-0, Hilliard 0-0.
- FALCONS: Jennings 3-43.
- BUCCANEERS: D.Jackson 3-61.
- FALCONS: Norwood 4-84.
- BUCCANEERS: Adams 2-11.5, White 1.5-15, Carter 0.5-2.5.
- FALCONS: Babineaux 1-8, Abraham 1-5.