USA TODAY Sports
Fact: The Bucs' season ended today - ours didn't
There are sure to be mixed reviews of the Falcons' 22-17 loss to the lowly Bucs. Asante Samuel aggravated that pesky shoulder, John Abraham went down with what looked like a knee injury, and Dunta Robinson sustained a head injury. Was it worth it? I don't know.
I wrote about this earlier in the week. Do you play your starters or do you rest them (risking momentum) for three weeks? Momentum is huge in this league. As one of the color commentators pointed out, "you gotta play your guys." But our pass rush is significantly less effective when Abe isn't playing. Maybe the knee injury isn't all that bad, but he was carted to the locker room after "walking" off the field with some assistance. Without Samuel and Robinson, we're scary thin at corner back.
The third down shenanigans are mind-blowing. Going into this game, we'd converted nearly 50 percent of our third downs (second best in the league), then we're 3/14 on third downs today. As of late, we've been downright bipolar on third downs. It's certainly a cause for concern heading into the playoffs.
For whatever reason, Smitty was aggressive on fourth downs today. We went for it 3 times, converting only once. It did appear that Smitty was exercising caution with his running backs - we only rushed the ball 16 times, and Turner, Rodgers, and Snelling basically split the carries.
We didn't create any turnovers, which is never a recipe for success with this team. That said, Kudos to Dominique Franks and Robert McClain, they both performed admirably after Robinson and Samuel went down early in the first half.
Look, Samuel was already hurt. He will likely be hurt for the rest of the season. I doubt playing him today had much of an effect. Robinson's exit was likely a precaution, and even if it wasn't, he has two weeks to get his head right. Abe is the real question mark. If his injury is de minimis, I don't really mind this loss. We're still in the playoffs and we're still the number 1 seed.
Rest up boys, we've got playoff games to win.