By Matthew Asher
It’s hard to believe that just two weeks ago Greg Schiano’s Tampa Bay Bucs were one of the two teams in the NFL without a win. Even though they lost to the Atlanta Falcons 23-31 in Week 7, this week Tampa made sure the Falcons wouldn’t sweep the series, this time delivering a 41-28 win that wasn’t even as close as the score would suggest. Since their Week 7 victory over Tampa Bay, Atlanta has lost their last four games by a combined score of 135-61. Ouch.
If there are such things as football gods, they seemed to be pranking the Falcons all day. Matt Ryan threw for three touchdowns, two for Atlanta and one 37-yard pick-six by Mason Foster in the second quarter. Steven Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers combined for 63 rushing yards on 17 attempts. Even special teams were a disaster for Atlanta as Tampa Bay pulled off a successful onside kick in the second quarter and were also able to block a Matt Bosher punt in the third quarter.
So for the second week in a row, instead of the Good, Bad and Ugly, we bring you the Bad, Really Bad and Ugly because any of the highlights or good stats Atlanta picked up were all during garbage time.
Atlanta’s pass defense gets a D-
In short, nothing went right for the Atlanta Falcons on defense. Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon completed a ridiculous 20 of his 23 pass attempts (about 87 percent) for 231 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Vincent Jackson was responsible for the majority of the damage through the air as he caught 10 of the 20 completions, picked up 165 receiving yards and one of the two touchdowns.
The Really Bad
Atlanta’s run defense gets an F
It’s one thing to give up 150 rushing yards to a Pro Bowl-caliber running back like Marshawn Lynch, like Atlanta did last week. It’s an entirely different thing to let Bobby Rainey, who started the season as a kick returner for the Cleveland Browns, run for 163 yards on 30 carries and three total touchdowns (two on the ground, one through the air).
Coming into this game, Rainey ran 42 times for 158 yards (with 79 of them coming last week against Miami) and two touchdowns. He more than doubled that amount against Atlanta in fewer carries.
Atlanta pass blocking gets a D-
Coming into the game, Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had recorded three sacks on the season. Guess how many he picked up in just the first two drives against the Falcons? That’s right he doubled up his season numbers in just the first 15 defensive snaps.
On both of the drives, Atlanta had established good rhythm and was looking to get deeper into Tampa territory. Those three sacks (with two coming back-to-back) took Atlanta out of easy scoring range forcing a punt and field goal attempt rather than two possible touchdowns.
With Atlanta now at 2-8, their streak of five straight seasons with a winning record will come to an end. Now essentially reduced to playing the role of spoiler in their last six games, Atlanta will start with a short week as they prepare to take on their NFC South rival and division-leading New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football.
Kickoff is scheduled for 8:25 p.m. EST.
For more Falcons news and updates, visit Falcons Central.
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.