After the Falcons went 3-and-out in their first offensive drive, I couldn't help but gulp hard. Being 1-4 is bad enough, losing to the lowly Bucs would be catastrophic. They're a team that came into this game winless, and I wanted them to stay that way.
Luckily, in the Bucs' first offensive drive, Thomas Decoud returned a Mike Glennon fumble for a touchdown. Kudos to William Moore and Jonathan Massaquoi for forcing the fumble - Moore brought the pressure and Massaquoi got a hand on the ball. Falcons up 6-0.
Antone Smith really showed some moxy on special teams, proving why he keeps making this team. The kid has a 5th gear that's rarely matched at this level. Granted, he's not an actual running back, but as gunners go, he's the bee's knees.
As the first half continued, I couldn't decide if the Bucs' offense is just really bad, or if the Falcons' were actually generating pressure and, by association, effectively defending the pass. Mike Glennon deserves credit, as do his giraffe-like legs. Desmond Trufant is an incredibly heady player. He plays smart, physical football. He's still learning, just like any other rookie corner back, but if this season is any indication, he will be a special player in this league.
Jacquizz Rodgers' first touchdown put the Falcons up 14-0. He literally drug the defender into the end zone - gotta love that. Then, after a defensive stand and a botched Michael Koenen punt left the Falcons with excellent field position, Matt Ryan connected with Harry Douglas on a 40 yard touchdown reception.
In the second quarter, Asante Samuel got beat badly and it led to a 53 yard touchdown reception by Vincent Jackson. Jackson is a ridiculous manbeast, and he gave us fits all day. Peria Jerry had a huge sack at the end of the first half, driving Glennon into the ground. In that moment, he actually resembled the first rounder we though we drafted.
Alford fumbled a punt return at the beginning of the second half, which was discouraging, since he will likely assume those duties for the rest of the season. I'll give him a pass this time, though it's certainly something to keep an eye on. The Bucs absolutely dominated time of possession in the third quarter, taking more than 9 minutes off the clock. What really dragged out the third quarter was penalties, as the refs called absolutely everything.
Jacquizz Rodgers scored again in the fourth quarter on a short pass. In the drive that preceded that score, Ryan got all his weapons involved. From Darius Johnson to Drew Davis, that drive epitomized the notion that Ryan isn't a product of his supporting cast. The Bucs' tricky on-side kick didn't go anywhere, and the Falcons ended the game in victory formation.
MVP of this game has to be Matt Ryan. Without his number one and number two guys, he went 20/26 for 273 yards and 3 touchdowns. Ryan now has 13 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions through six games - I'd say he's earning that new contract.
We will have extensive recaps tomorrow. But for now, discuss the win!