Sometimes you can't win with elegance and class. Sometimes you have to smash their faces in the dirt, take a couple on the chin and use a bunch of fighting metaphors. This is one of those times.
The Falcons looked downright incompetent against the Bucs at times, but it didn't matter. The collective performance of the defense and a superlative effort from our man Michael Turner carried us to victory against a Bucs team that stayed in the game remarkably well considering that Jeff Garcia was riding the pine.
For the 9-5 aftermath, follow the flaming wreckage of the pirate ship to the jump.
- Michael Turner isn't a running back. He's a robotic turfplow from beyond the stars. If the Burner can't get into the Pro Bowl with the ridiculous numbers he's put up this year, I give up. I'll go live in a house made of seashells or something.
It really makes you wonder what Turner could've done earlier in his career if he wasn't stuck beyond LaDanian Tomlinson in San Diego. All I know is I'm very glad he's with us now, with his legs still fresh and his fangs bared at every defender who dares to stand in his path.
- Wow, the defense put the brakes on today. You have to give an enormous amount of credit to John Abraham for turning Brian Griese into a human Jenga tower, but credit also must go to Grady Jackson (1 sack) and Domonique Foxworth (INT!) More than that, it was solid efforts from guys like Coy Wire (11 tackles) who doggedly pursued the runner and made the Bucs air it out to win. That rarely works for a team that has Brian Griese under center.
- Michael Koenen is en fuego. I've been criticizing him all season, but after reading that the Falcons are on pace for a punt return yards record, I realized I haven't been giving him enough credit. He appears to be finding his golf swing as the season goes on, which gives our special teams a much needed boost in confidence as well.
- Apparently, all we need to do to coax effective play out of guys is sign them to a new contract. Babs continued to perform well, filling gaps and proving why he's considered one of the surest tacklers on the team. Michael Jenkins is doing very well these last few weeks, and when I think of L-Rob getting healthy--if it ever happens--and the damage Douglas will do in a year or two, I can't help but swoon. Get me the smelling salts.
- Whether you believe Matt Ryan has been slipping a little or this one was just an anomaly, you have to admit that this was an ugly game for him. Two fumbles and a couple of picks that can be pinned easily on him don't add up to a delightful stroll through the Georgia Dome. I could easily be worried about our star rook, but he's proven enough in my eyes this year. I fully believe he'll be back on the saddle in the last two weeks of the season, so throw your hopes and dreams behind him and we'll pass this one by.
- Jerious Norwood is clearly not completely okay out there. He hasn't looked nearly as explosive the last several weeks, and the coaching staff has gradually pared down his usage along the way. We still need Norwood, so I'm hoping this is a ploy to help him get healthier.
- Yeah, the defense was pretty good. Still, that's not excuse for letting the suddenly good Antonio Bryant eat our corners alive. The pass rush solves a lot of problems, but we need to prove we can shut down the top receivers in the league. Unless we want a high round pick spent on corner, that is.
Game MVP: I like settling these by vote when it's this close. Was it Michael Turner or John Abraham and the defense? I lean toward the D despite Turner's fantastic numbers, but the choice is yours.
Game Theme Song: Believe by The Bravery.
One Thing To Take Away: We are still very much in this race. I also almost forgot to mention that a winning season is guaranteed!!!!1!! The last time I was this happy, I got thrown into a squad car!
Final Word: Ugliwinification.