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What We Learned: Falcons vs. Buccaneers

Fact: Julio Jones has the record for the longest kickball home run in history at 411 feet.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

It was a game with a similar outlook as others the Falcons had faced this season.

A home game against an opponent that possessed talent at a few spots but ultimately was inferior to the speedy, talented Atlanta Falcons. Similar to the Miami Dolphins contest, similar to that first game against the Chicago Bears. One of those contests on the schedule that the Falcons were the obvious favorites to walk away victorious.

Entering the first of two contests against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Falcons are in playoff-mode from here on out this season, and it showed. The offense showed its scary potential to the tune of 516 yards and 8.1 yards per play, which so happened to be a franchise-record. The biggest takeaway from the Falcons 34-20 win over Tampa was the Herculean outing from star wide receiver Julio Jones. Jones arrived to Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday and probably decided while walking in that he wanted to reel in 12 catches for 253 yards and two touchdowns.

So on the surface, the Falcons nabbed a victory that gives them their seventh win of the season and fourth in their last five games. Look deeper.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

We may have seen heavily-scrutinized offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian turn the corner as a play caller. Granted, he had the 31st ranked pass defense at his disposal, but seeing this type of performance from the offense this season has been long desired by the Falcons fan base. There was plenty on display from the Falcons offense in this one. From deep passes in the Wild Bean formation to end-arounds with Jones that caught an entire defense off guard. For the first time this season, Sarkisian cracked open the playbook and realized he has an arsenal of weapons.

Of course however, in typical Falcons fashion, the defense were victims of the injury bug with two of their top three corners being ruled out of the game. For a while, the team leaned on veteran safety Ricardo Allen playing corner (which he played in college and was drafted as one by Atlanta) and while he did an admirable job, it was a state of emergency in secondary on Sunday.

Despite that ugliness, the team showed what many expected from them. They showed that good teams take care of inferior opponents, especially in late November. After a 4-4 start, the Falcons are now on a three-game win streak and sitting in the 6th seed if the playoffs were today. The team is starting to click at the right time and dare I say it, they are starting to look like a deep playoff team.

Sitting and waiting next week are the Minnesota Vikings. A mentally and physically tough team that is 9-2, first in the NFC North and easily one of the five best teams in the league right now. A test now awaits the Falcons. If the Falcons want to continue on this high, their playoff-like mentality the past three weeks may have to be dialed in on a higher level.