Buccaneers sink Falcons to 1-2 record
The Falcons had a tough loss to their division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 16-13. The Falcons offense struggled early in the game, but started to make headway late to mount a comeback down 13 points in the fourth quarter. But it proved to not be enough as the Bucs were able to hold on for the win.
Matt Ryan completed 26 of 47 attempts for 330 yards with a touchdown and interception. The Falcons did little on the ground with Michael Turner rushing for 20 yards on 11 carries. Roddy White had 9 catches for 140 yards, while Julio Jones added 6 for 115 yards. Tony Gonzalez caught Ryan’s lone touchdown pass and finished the day with 2 grabs for 18 yards. Harry Douglas added 5 catches for 35 yards. Three first half turnovers led to the Falcons being down early. Matt Bryant connected on his two field goal tries of 26 and 33 yards. Matt Bosher averaged 31.3 yards on 3 punts with one placed inside the 20-yard line. Eric Weems had a pair of punt returns for 16 yards and averaged 19.3 yards on 3 kickoff returns.
Defensively, the Falcons were able to make some stops. They held the Buccaneers to 295 total yards and forced 2 turnovers on interceptions. Sean Weatherspoon and Curtis Lofton tied for the team lead with 11 tackles each. Weatherspoon also added a pair of tackles for loss, while Lofton had one stop behind the line of scrimmage of his own. Thomas DeCoud (9 tackles, 1 interception), Ray Edwards (3 tackles), Brent Grimes (5 tackles), Peria Jerry (3 tackles, 2 tackles for loss), William Moore (4 tackles, 1 interception), Mike Peterson (5 tackles), Dunta Robinson (6 tackles), and Vance Walker (3 tackles) had noteworthy games.
The Falcons got off to a rough start on their opening series with Ryan fumbling on third down after being sacked by Dekota Watson. This first turnover gave the Bucs the ball at the Falcons own 17-yard line. But the defense held with DeCoud making a leaping interception in the endzone three plays later to give the Falcons offense the ball back. The Falcons did little to take advantage, failing to move the ball much before punting it away. Once again, the defense held with a three-and-out. The Falcons next offensive series went pretty much nowhere and Bosher punted again. Josh Freeman then led the Bucs on a 9-play, 37-yard scoring drive to put them in field goal range. Connor Barth hit a 49-yarder to put the Bucs up 3-0 with 1:19 left in the first quarter. The Falcons offense then showed their first signs of life, as Ryan hit White on a 30-yard pass to convert a 3rd & 3 at the start of the second quarter. A few plays later the Falcons wound up settling for three points with Matt Bryant hitting on a 26-yard field goal to tie the game. The Bucs offense started to find more success on the ensuing drive with Freeman leading them on a 12-play, 80-yard drive. Freeman went 8 for 8 passing for 78 yards to put the Bucs at the one-yard line before pushing the ball across the goalline on a sneak to give them a 7-point lead with 3:37 left in the first half. Two plays later, Ryan fumbled again on a sack by Adrian Clayborn to give the Bucs the ball back at the Falcons 9-yard line. The defense was able to force the Bucs to settle for 3 points. The Falcons got the ball back at their own 7-yard line with under 2 minutes to go in the half and were starting to move the ball. However their hopes of getting a score before the half were dashed when Ryan was intercepted by Ronde Barber on a tipped pass.
The second half began with the Bucs being able to move the ball down the field to get their third field goal of the day. Barth connected on a 28-yard field goal after a 16-play, 70-yard drive that consumed 8 minutes of the third quarter. Most of their success came on the ground with Freeman running to convert a fourth and third down to extend that drive. The Falcons found some success moving the ball on their next drive, but Ryan was sacked on a third down that forced a punt. The Bucs started to milk the clock with their ground game on their ensuing drive, but that was interrupted when William Moore picked off Freeman on the first play of the fourth quarter to give the Falcons the ball near midfield. But again, the Falcons failed to reap any points out of it, as Ryan’s fourth down throw to Jacquizz Rodgers in the endzone was broken up by Corey Lynch. But a Bucs three-and-out gave the Falcons the ball back with 10:38 left on the clock. Ryan hit Julio Jones on a 49-yard strike on first down, and the next play found Tony Gonzalez open in the back of the endzone for a 10-yard score to cut the Bucs lead to 16-10. The Falcons defense held again with another three-and-out as the Falcons took over at their own 32-yard line with 7:46 left in the game. Ryan connected several times with Roddy White to put the team in scoring position. He started the drive, hitting White on 3 of 4 attempts for 44 yards to get the ball to the Bucs’ 18-yard line. A few plays later, a roughing the passer on Gerald McCoy gave the Falcons a 1st and goal from the 5, but Ryan was sacked for a 10-yard loss. Two missed throws to White and the Falcons were forced to kick a field goal on 4th down with 4:11 left in the game. Bryant hit from 33 yards. The Bucs were able to get the clock down to after the two-minute warning with two first downs. On a 4th & 1 with 1:49 left in the game, the Falcons jumped offsides. Without anymore timeouts, the Falcons were not able to stop the clock from that point on and three kneel downs ended the game in the Bucs’ favor.
Next week, the Falcons will travel to Seattle to take on the 1-2 Seahawks. The Seahawks have won three straight at home dating back to last season. Their last loss at home came to the Falcons in Week 15 last year, by a final score of 34-18. The Seahawks are 7-3 at home under head coach Pete Carroll. The Falcons are 4-0 in road games played on the west coast under Mike Smith. They have beaten the Seahawks the last two times they’ve played them, but post a 2-4 record all-time against the Seahawks in Seattle. The Falcons are 2-2 in road games directly following a road loss, losing their last two instances.