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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs-Falcons: Keys to the game

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Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 12:08 AM

Adjust faster

It's one thing to start slow. It's quite another to perpetuate the problem because you can't figure out the cause. The Bucs needed until halftime last week to figure out a lack of intensity and poor fundamentals were the biggest culprits in their 17-0 halftime deficity at Minnesota. That can't happen, especially in a game as big as this. Whether the adjustments are mental, physical or structural, coaches have to do a better job changing on the fly.

Spread the wealth

During one of the biggest comeback victories in franchise history last week, WR Mike Williams caught just one pass, for a 4-yard loss. That's proof the Bucs can produce points and win without much input from their best receiver. QB Josh Freeman has spread the ball to a variety of targets and needs to continue. Tampa Bay wants to get Williams more involved, but if the defense take him away, Freeman has to be content throwing to alternate receivers.

Use multiple heat sources

Two games into the season the Bucs don't have a sack from their defensive line. That sounds like a problem, but doesn't have to be. Tampa Bay applied plenty of pressure last week by blitzing Vikings QB Donovan McNabb, getting sacks form S Sean Jones and MLB Mason Foster. The Bucs must use an extensive blitz package to flush Falcons QB Matt Ryan out of the pocket, where he is not as effective as when given time to set up and throw.

Key Matchup

Bucs WLB Geno Hayes vs. Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez

Gonzalez led all NFL tight end in targets in the red zone last season and had two touchdowns last week against the Eagles. The Falcons will look to Gonzalez in the clutch, and it will be up to Hayes to stop him when Gonzalez is not coming out of the slot. Hayes has the speed to keep up, but the real key to success is Hayes' ability to recognize routes, read a quarterback's eyes and make a play on the ball.

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