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Sunday, Jun 24, 2018
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Notebook: Atlanta game looms large for Bucs

TAMPA - Tampa Bay players keep talking about taking it one week at a time, but the importance of Sunday's matchup already is evident in the locker room. The Bucs are one of seven NFC clubs with at least seven wins and they are 5-2 within the conference, a potential key tiebreaker in determining wild-card playoff spots. "Every game from here on out is almost like a playoff atmosphere,'' said third-year pro Jeremy Zuttah, who will replace injured Davin Joseph at right guard. "We're fighting for our lives and we know everyone in this room is a fighter. We know the Falcons so well, it would mean a lot to beat that team.'' When the clubs met Nov. 7 at Atlanta, the Bucs suffered a 27-21 setback as the Falcons needed a late goal-line stand to clinch their fourth consecutive victory against Tampa Bay.
"That was my first time playing against Atlanta and I didn't know how big the rivalry was until that game,'' Biggers said. "They have a lot of weapons and a real good team, but if we do our jobs, we'll be alright.'' It's my fault The Bucs were saddled with awful early field position against the Ravens and LB Niko Koutouvides is assuming his share of the blame. "We were backed up the whole quarter and our defense did well to get us the ball back, but I'm the one who got the penalties,'' said Koutouvides, who was called for holding twice on special teams within the first 12 minutes. "That's on me.'' Micheal Spurlock returned the opening kickoff to the Tampa Bay 23, but a flag against Koutouvides brought the ball back to the 12. Later in the quarter, Spurlock returned a punt to the Buccaneer 17, but the drive began on the 4-yard line when Koutouvides was flagged again - one of nine Bucs penalties on the day. "Two in the first quarter are obviously unacceptable,'' he said. "I hurt the team.'' Throwback blackout Bucs officials remained steadfast Monday that Sunday's game will be blacked out in the local television market despite the marquee matchup with the Falcons, the Bucs' wearing orange throwback jerseys and the long-planned induction of inaugural coach John McKay into the Ring of Honor. All five regular-season games have been blacked out this season, marking the first since Raymond James Stadium opened in 1998 that games were not sold out. Extra points The Bucs are likely to make a decision this week on whether to shut down DE Kyle Moore for the season, Morris said. Moore has been inactive the past three games with a shoulder injury. ... All ticket holders for Sunday's game will receive a replica John McKay floppy hat. The first coach in Bucs history will be inducted into the franchise's Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony. ... Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman and Atlanta's Matt Ryan rank 1-2 among NFC QBs in fourth-quarter passer rating.
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