By: David Schiele
It is not a true Falcons’ game without a little stress, right? The 2017 Falcons may still be trying to find their identity, but their narrative is set: games way too close for comfort. Monday night’s game fits into that narrative perfectly, as the Falcons escaped Raymond James Stadium with a 24-21 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Falcons did numerous things well against Tampa Bay. They converted nine of their 15 third-downs, recorded over 400 offensive yards (200+ rushing) and did not turn the ball over. Yet, a handful of incomplete passes, a blocked field goal, and an untimely sack kept this game uncomfortably close.
After that untimely sack, Atlanta gave Tampa Bay the football with one-minute left and the chance to win or tie the game. Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston only completed three passes, but it was enough to put Tampa Bay in field goal range. However, Patrick Murray’s potential game-tying kick sailed right, and the Falcons won a critical football game.
This is the fourth time that Atlanta has won on the final play of a game in 2017 (@ Det., @ NYJ, @Sea., and @Tampa Bay). Four other games were decided in the final minute; the Falcons won just two of those games (@ Chicago, vs New Orleans).
If you are keeping count, that’s six of Atlanta’s nine wins coming down to the wire. None of those wins were pretty, but a victory is a victory. And in December, NFL teams have to get victories any way they can.
Just two more December victories for Atlanta makes them NFC South Champions again. The first of which will have to be in New Orleans against the Saints, followed by the regular season finale at home versus the Carolina Panthers.
Now if the Falcons win just one of these games, they will still make the playoffs as a wildcard team. If they lose both games, they will need some help to make the playoffs. For what they are worth, Falcons fans should consider every game a playoff game.
So buckle up everyone, it is going to be a stressful ride.