By Matthew Asher
In a game with Steven Jackson, Roddy White and Julio Jones—who have combined for eight Pro Bowl appearances, all out due to injuries—it was obvious that Atlanta’s backup backs and receivers were going to be counted on. That’s exactly what happened as Jacquizz Rodgers, Harry Douglas and Drew Davis all chipped in during Atlanta’s 31-23 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Matt Ryan gets an A
It’s one thing to complete 13 of 18 pass attempts for 211 yards and two touchdowns with Roddy White and Julio Jones as your receivers. It’s a totally different animal when Harry Douglas and ‘Quizz Rodgers are the two leading receivers and Tony Gonzalez has just one reception. Also add the fact that those were Ryan’s number in just the first half and it’s clear that Matty Ice is doing everything he can to save this season.
Ryan finished the game completing 20 of his 26 pass attempts for 273 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He is now 18-1 all-time when throwing three or more touchdowns in a game.
Harry Douglas, ‘Quizz Rodgers and Drew Davis all get an A
Douglas finished the game with seven receptions for 149 yards and one touchdown. The rest of the Falcons caught a total of 13 more passes for exactly 100 yards. ‘Quizz was responsible for eight of the other catches. He only had 46 receiving yards, but two of them were for touchdowns and he added another 16 rushing yards.
Drew Davis may have only had one catch, but it was a great one. Doing his best Julio Jones impersonation, Davis pulled down his own spectacular 24-yard one-handed catch of his own in the third quarter, which allowed Atlanta to continue the only drive in which they scored a touchdown in the second half.
Atlanta’s defense in the second half gets a D
If you’re wondering why Ryan only threw eight additional times in the second half, it has less to do with Atlanta’s offense and more to do with their defense. In the first half Atlanta had the ball for 12:28. By the end of the game Atlanta had possession for just 22:11 total. That’s right, they didn’t even have the ball for 10 of the 30 second-half minutes.
Part of that had to do with a Tampa fumble recovery early in the third quarter. After forcing a quick three-and-out on Tampa’s opening second-half drive, Robert Alford, filling in at punt returner for Harry Douglas, fumbled the ball and Tampa was able to recover after a nice 53-yard punt.
Tampa had the ball four times in the second half. They ran 41 plays but were only able to get 147 yards and 13 points in the second half.
Atlanta’s 4th down defense gets an F.
There’s no nice way of saying this but the Falcons were atrocious in this department. Three times in the second half Tampa decided to go for it on 4th down. Three times they successfully converted it into a first down.
Tampa actually had a fourth 4th down conversion called back because of an offensive penalty. The one called back was a fourth and goal from the 13-yard line in which rookie quarterback Mike Glennon was able to escape pressure and throw a touchdown pass to Tiquan Underwood at the goal-line.
After finally ending a three-game losing skid, something Atlanta has never done before under Mike Smith, and hopefully will never do again, the now 2-4 Falcons travel to Phoenix next week where they will take on the 3-4 Arizona Cardinals. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:25 pm EST.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.