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Tampa Bay’s Dirk Koetter makes impressive debut as coach

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So what’s so tough about coaching in the NFL?

Just ask the guy with Gatorade all over his shirt and a game ball under his arm.

New Tampa Bay Bucs coach Dirk Koetter won his first game with the Bucs Sunday in Atlanta behind several highlight plays in a 31-24 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

It was an impressive debut, one where most of Koetter’s weapons took turns trying to impress the new boss.

There was Charles Sims, who took a checkdown pass late in the first half. Sims was surrounded by Falcon defenders, but made a move, broke a tackle and went in for the most significant play he has made as a Buc.

There was Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who had to work his way back into Koetter’s good graces, getting open down the middle for a 30-yard touchdown reception.

There was Mike Evans, who caught a 45-yard touchdown pass right afterward.

There was quarterback Jameis Winston, who overcame a slow start to hit 23 of 33 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns.

Finally, there was Gerald McCoy, who batted down Matt Ryan’s fourth-down pass to preserve the win.

“We tell our guys, you have to make your plays,” Koetter said.

It was good enough to overcome a 10-3 deficit. Tampa Bay scored four touchdowns in the middle two periods for the win. The victory had to feel particularly good for Koetter and defensive coordinator Mike Smith, who were the offensive coordinator and head coach in Atlanta before.

Tampa Bay is on the road again next week, traveling to Arizona to play the highly regarded Cardinals.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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