The Falcons were embarassed miserably by the Saints but in the NFL there is always another week. It was wonderful that the Bucs came to town and represented the sacrificial lamb for the Falcons to get back on track heading into the playoffs. The offense and defense got the opportunity to play well and have positive vibes with the playoff looming. The other most important factor in this game was winning it, in order to get the fifth seed in the NFC and play the representative of the East rather than a playoff trip to the Superdome.
There aren’t a whole lot of things to be said of the game where the starters actually played. When everyone (Matt Ryan, John Abraham, Tony Gonzalez, etc.) was still in the game, the Falcons were rolling on offense. With big passing touchdowns from Ryan to Julio Jones, and Michael Turner torching the Bucs poor tackling, he ran for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Offensively, it was great. I would have liked to see Matt Ryan get one more TD pass so he could reach 30 for the season, but such is life. It was great that he got a deserved franchise single season passing yardage record. It was also great Michael Turner got the rushing touchdown record, and Roddy White got the all time receiving yardage for Falcons history. It says a little about past Falcons, but alot about the present Falcons.
Perhaps the most awe striking offensive play of the game was the 48-yard TD from Ryan to Julio Jones. It was a magnificent athletic play by Julio to pull the ball down knowing he would be subjected to a hit. He never was, hit the turf, and trotted in for the touchdown. Ryan did a good job getting the ball down the field, trusting Jones, and placing it on time. The chemistry between these two is getting very good, and it is truly exciting for the future of the Falcons!
The defense was solid against a Tampa team that looked completely un-prepared offensively. There were numerous interceptions and a good job stuffing the run. The first half was dominant. But if you read the article by my colleague, you’d see the defense has been struggling. The Bucs never really had a shot at getting back in the game, but the Falcons clearly let down at the end of the game and gave up way more yards and points than they needed to. I agree with him, bend don’t break doesn’t work for every team, and it’s troubling to see the Falcons have non pass rush whatsoever without blitzing.
UPDATE: One statistic that I read and was surprised by, was that Ryan has been 6th in the league in passing touchdowns the past two seasons. The only guys ahead of him are the likes of Brady, Rodgers, Manning, and Brees. Thats not bad for Matty Ice, and great news for the future as well. He’s elite.
It was a very positive and record breaking day for the Falcons. I am glad we did not have to wear ourselves out fighting the Bucs, and they proved to be little competition. The game presented the perfect opportunity to keep our tools sharp, but not wear them out. Again, I would have liked to see them in the entire first half, but thats the way it goes. Lets get ready to face the New York Giants!