For a good three point two-five quarters last night, I felt as if a time warp had opened up on the muddy, soddened field at Raymond James Stadium and some late 60's version of the Falcons offense showed up to play. It wasn't until Matt Ryan found Julio Jones on a streak route for forty-nine yards, setting up a Gonzo TD with the score a dismal 16-6 that I felt I was watching the Falcons that won thirteen games last night. That score happened with a little over six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Too little, too late.
Do I feel that the Falcons were the better over-all team last night? Yes. Did they play that way? Absolutely not.
The defense. Our defensive squad, outside of one of the worst boneheaded plays in the history of boneheaded plays, limited the Bucs to just one touchdown. They had an INT (DeCoud) and kept Blount at bay. They even managed to harass Josh Freeman despite his uncanny ability to resemble a tree standing behind a huge wrought-iron fence most of the time.
Matt Ryan, Offensive Coordinator. Ok, we all know the plays Ryan calls come from Mike Mularkey's brain. That's perfectly understood. However, at some point last night, Mike Smith made the call to forego Mularkey's play calling and instead opt for The Matt Ryan show. Sadly, this was opted for far too late to make a difference. Still, Matt was only two Roddy White drops (haven't seen those in a while, huh?) from pulling out yet another last-minute win. His ability to read defenses and call the shots from the line is eerily similar to a certain neck-injured QB in the AFC.
Bosher, place kicker. Two touchbacks in one game. Granted, I think the wind had something to do with this but...it bears mentioning.
Julio. Whooooooolio? Julio. Ryan needs to get him the ball more often. That deep route was purty.
Harry Douglas. He continues to impressed.
Roddy White, reborn. Since 2008, Roddy has been one of the top receivers in the game, catching whatever came his way. He continued that way yesterday in the fourth quarter until...
Roddy White, 2007 edition. I know he was tired. I know he was turning his head looking for the touchdown. But come on, down three points with a chance to score the go ahead touchdown and you look away from the ball? Bush league mistake.
Mike Mularkey, offensive coordinator. At some point yesterday, Mike Smith wrestled play calling duties away from Mularkey and opted for the no huddle. Suffice to say, Mularkey's play calling was so out of tune with what the Bucs were giving us defensively, Matt Ryan (likely half or a little less than half of Mularkey's age/experience) once again had to guide us to a score. This cannot continue.
The Basics. This was the worst "fundamentals of football" exhibition ever.
Bosher, punter. Cut him.
Matt Ryan, blinder-wearing QB. Ryan, stop honing in on receivers. I counted three key misses Ryan made yesterday that could have kept drives alive. This is also the reason he gets picked off. Someone teach him to pump fake or no look pass. He's too easy to read right now.
Michael Turner. Yes, I know the line is suspect, but I watched Turner miss a wide open hole in the right of the line to plow headfirst into a pile of white jerseys around McClure. Either his vision is hampered or he's trying to start too fast off the handoff. He's missing holes in routine running plays.
Corey Peters, rally killer. Sorry kid, you get called out. You know to watch the ball, not listen to the snap. What a boneheaded move.
Offensive line. Seriously guys. Matt Ryan cannot make this offense explosive if he's running for his life the moment the ball is snapped. Clabo was somewhat serviceable last night. That's it. Everyone else might as well have just been on the sideline. Garrett Reynolds is too green. The Sam Baker experiment has failed miserably. McClure, fresh off an injury, was obviously over-matched by a rookie DT. Ryan had to take his OL's dismal performance out of the game by calling plays at the line to ensure he didn't get anymore of the Buc's field paint on his jersey. Ryan has been sacked thirteen times and hit twenty-one times. That is inexcusable. We need Ryan to win games. If he's on the turf or, even worse, injured from the abuse he's taken, we cannot win. Simple as that. Remember when Snelling and Redman were our number ones in October in 2009? Yeah, I tried to forget it too.