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What We Learned: Falcons vs. Bucs

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Fact: Takk McKinley shuts off his alarm clock by staring at it.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Not necessarily pretty. Definitely did not smell rosy at all.

Yet, the end result was a victory. At the end of the day, it was a win that the team needed to keep their improving playoff hopes alive and well. A 24-21 Monday night win over the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers was probably something that most of us did not expect. This was a team that the Atlanta Falcons hung 34 points and 516 total yards on just three games ago. So entering this contest, the Falcons felt quite confident that they could walk away with another dominating win. At the conclusion, that was not necessarily the case.

Nonetheless, a 9-5 record is a 9-5 record. Now the Falcons find themselves one win away from the playoffs and two wins away from their second consecutive NFC South championship crown.

Because of this game however, the groans are still at an emphatic level.

Because it was not as easy as it was last season when the Falcons blasted Tampa Bay 43-28 on a Thursday night contest that was not as close as the score indicated. It was not as easy as the Falcons going into Los Angeles and handing the Rams an old fashioned 42-14 whooping last season.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Ironically, we saw the opposite. We saw a Falcons team that has continued a season-long trend of squeezing out wins in a fashion that leaves many Falcons fans with sweaty palms, sweaty armpits, and frantic tweets that emphasize their frustration.

Just like against the Bears, the Lions, the Jets, the Seahawks, and the Saints, this Falcons team turned head-scratching turn of events into wins in the most important column of a team's record. The 2016 Falcons did not do this bunch of Falcons any favors whatsoever. Because now week in and week out, this team is looked to mirror what they accomplished last year.

As running back Devonta Freeman ran over another Buccaneer en-route to a productive night for the 5'8 rusher, I couldn't help but notice that every time the Bucs swung, this Falcons team swung back and emphatically I might add. There was a different kind of physicality from the offensive side of the ball that we may not have seen in quite some time. It was absolutely nourishing.

Seeing that helped me realize that while this Falcons team is talented from front to back and should be walking over certain teams in the NFL, this Falcons team is learning how to "embrace the suck". The suck portion of their season is having close game after close game. How they embrace it all is by simply turning it in their favor in their own fashion.