Buccaneers hang on to beat Falcons in overtime

AP

The Buccaneers tried to give this one away, they really did.

Instead, a young team with some talent may have finally found a way to close one out, beating Atlanta 23-20 on the road in overtime.

The Bucs had led 20-3 in the third quarter, but allowed the Falcons to score 17 unanswered to send it to the extra session, reminiscent of the 24-point lead they coughed up last week in Washington.

But once they got to the extra session and Connor Barth kicked a 31-yard field goal, their defense continued to apply pressure to Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

It was defensive tackle Gerald McCoy dragging Ryan down on the Falcons’ final fourth-down attempt to keep the game going, allowing the Bucs to celebrate for a change.

The Falcons turned it over four times, and the young Bucs did not give it away, which was the difference in this one.

It was an altogether sloppy performance for the 6-2 Falcons, who had to scrape by for a 10-7 win over the Titans last week. Ryan’s stat line was good (37-of-45 for 397 yards and two touchdowns), but he wasn’t.

But for the 3-4 Bucs, it was a breath of life.

Rookie quarterback Jameis Winston played efficiently enough (16-of-29 for 177 yards and a touchdown), but there was nothing special about their offense.

But with rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander contributing a pair of takeaways, it was enough.