Last year the Falcons played fast and furious putting up more offensive numbers than any other team in the NFL. This year they have struggled with their identity. It’s natural after losing their offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator along with a few other position coaches. Tonight, I think we got a glimpse of what they are retooling. QB Matt Ryan and Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian appear to be gelling at the right time to make a playoff push. They put together long sustained drives that took time off the clock and put up a score. That was the missing piece of the pie from last year’s team.
Tonight they had a 9 play 72-yard drive that lasted 4:59. Another of 9 plays for 77 yards it was for 3:56. They stepped that up to a 10 play 87-yard drive that took another 5:23 off the clock. Then they had the ball for a whopping 7:15 in the third quarter. They did not score due to a blocked field goal attempt.
That drive covered 61 yards in 16 plays. The Tampa Bay offense had time to go out and tailgate.
Devanta Freeman is back and delivering in a big way 22 carries for 126 yards with the go-ahead touchdown (24-14). He broke the ankles of the defensive back who found himself on an island facing one of the NFL’s most elusive running backs. He also contributed 5 receptions for 68 yards. Welcome back Devanta Falcon Nation has missed you.
Julio Jones was relatively quiet he had only 3 receptions for 54 yards. The Tampa Bay, defensive game plan, had only one mission, stop the BEAST that killed them last month in Atlanta for 253 yards. This week his role was to keep them honest while Devonta killed them.
Matt Ryan: On how the Buccaneers’ pass defense adjusted from the previous meeting
“Certainly had to account for where Julio [Jones] was at, and they had some over the top help, which opens it up for the run game. I thought our offensive line was the difference maker. They were physical up front. The push at the line of scrimmage was excellent, and we stuck with it, and that was the key for us tonight.”
Ryan finished the game with 212 passing yards completing 17-31 attempts and one touchdown. He also displayed some nimble feet picking up 29 yards on 3 carries to extend key plays.
Good teams find a way to win. They can do it by air. They can do it by ground, or a combination of both. Yes. I said it, folks, “the Falcons are good, and they are cranking up the engine.” Remember sometimes good teams get lucky.
They don’t call him Famous Jameis for nothing his gigantic picture is on the building. He led the Bucs on a 10 play 75 yards drive that resulted in a 16 yard TD Pass to Adam Humphries to make the score 24-21 with 4:07 remaining. The Falcons faced first and ten from their 28-yard line. This is that time when you need a workhorse in the backfield. They had to have a sustained drive to make that clock go tick tock.
They picked up the critical first down running the ball. I emphasize running because the clock kept on moving. Suddenly it was third and nine, Clinton McDonald delivered what the Buccaneers needed, a sack on Matt Ryan to force the ball over on downs. It was do or die time for Tampa. They needed Jameis to be Famous. Adam Humpries put some excitement in the air returning the kick 19 yards. It .looked as if though he was going to break it.
Jamies was in Famous mode firing for two quick first downs before he spiked the ball to kill the clock. Another completed pass, another spike. Five seconds remained, it was hero or goat time for the kicker. Patrick Murray put his foot into it, it was long enough, it looked good enough, but it sailed wide right. The 54-yard field goal attempt was no good. The Falcons survived the Pirates Ship at Raymond James Stadium to stay in the hunt for the NFC Division Title and a berth into the Playoffs.
Devonta Free: On having a chance to win the division
“It just says how talented we [are] – how many great guys, how many competitors we have on our team and how many dogs we have on our team. We just have to go out and take it one game at a time.”
The game unfolded just as Head Coach Dan Quinn thought it would “Earlier this week, at the end of the week, in fact; we showed an old fight. One of my favorites of Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward. The reason we wanted to show the team that fights, in particular, is I wanted to remind them what a division game is, and that it is going to go all the way down. We thought heading into this it would be a fight, and it for sure was.”
#riseup #Atlantafalcons #NFC #NFL