By Matthew Asher
It’s been a while, but the Falcons have FINALLY ended their five-game losing streak. For the second time this season, Atlanta has bested the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The first time it was a blowout, this time the Falcons had to earn their 27-17 victory. While nobody for the Falcons produced milestone setting numbers this game, as a team they played very well.
The Falcons offense was actually outgained 373 to 322, but for the first time in 24 games (Week 2, 2013 against the St. Louis Rams) the Falcons didn’t turn the ball over a single time. And even though Atlanta’s defense gave up a lot of yards, they recorded four sacks and three turnovers rendering those yards useless. With that said, there will be no Ugly in the typical “Good, Bad and Ugly” rankings.
Julio Jones and Roddy White get A’s
Although Matt Ryan played a good game, his stats weren’t terribly impressive by themselves. Ryan went 20-31 for 219 yards and a touchdown. Jones and White combined for 14 of those catches, 191 yards and the lone touchdown. Jones finished with eight catches for 119 yards while White caught six passes for 72 yards and the touchdown.
A secondary best goes to Harry Douglas. He may have technically finished the game without a reception, he was responsible for catching Ryan’s two-point conversion in the fourth quarter. Atlanta was trailing 16-17 before the touchdown and Douglas’ catch gave Atlanta a seven point lead.
Steven Jackson gets an A
Jackson must have read my article last week on his lack of stats since joining the team last season. This game against Tampa Jackson ran with a purpose. He finished with 16 rushes for 81 yards and a touchdown. As a team, Atlanta topped the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time since their Week 4 game against Minnesota.
Jackson also caught two passes for 14 yards and he finished the day with 95 yards on 18 touches for a great 5.3 yards per touch average. He now trails OJ Simpson by just 129 yards for 18th place all-time in the NFL.
Falcon’s Third-Down Defense gets a D
Tampa Bay converted a mind-boggling 12/17 (70 percent) of their third down attempts. Going into this game the Bucs had converted just 30/91 attempts (33 percent). That’s simply unacceptable. If the Falcons allow a competent team to convert more than half of their third down conversions, it’s almost a guarantee Atlanta would have lost the game. The reason Atlanta does not get an F in this is because they did limit the Bucs to just 1-2 on both Red Zone and Goal-to-Go situations.
With Atlanta now at 3-6, and thanks to San Francisco besting New Orleans 27-24 in OT today, the Falcons now trail the Saints by just one game for the lead in the terrible NFC South. Carolina, Atlanta’s next opponent, plays their Week 10 game on Monday Night. The Falcons road trip continues next week in Charlotte. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 pm ET. #RiseUp
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.