Atlanta’s had a nasty habit in recent years of getting overconfident following a big win or two and falling flat afterwards, but this was somehow on a whole new level. The Falcons followed up two great games with an absolutely awful effort against the Bucs, one where the offense was barely even out there, the defense was undisciplined and made too many mistakes again, and Younghoe Koo was the only guy who converted every opportunity he got.
It was a pitiful effort, in short, one the Falcons should spend the next four days studying closely lest they get embarrassed again at home by the Saints on Thanksgiving.
I’ve argued for weeks now that Dan Quinn needs to go, as much as I hate that the era didn’t work out the way we wanted to. This is just the latest proof that this coaching staff needs to be turned over at the end of the year, because this team is building Jenga towers that are knocked over by a swift breeze. Here’s the full drive-by-drive recap, if you want to re-live it for some reason.
The Falcons made it look easy on their first possession against the Buccaneers, right up until they hit the red zone. Austin Hooper was sidelined again, and Jaedin Graham made the most of the opportunity with a 53-yard catch. Matt Ryan’s one attempted pass to Calvin Ridley went incomplete, but Ridley did get one carry and took it for 15 yards. The Buccaneers defense held in the red zone, and Atlanta settled for a 3-0 lead on a 25-yard Younghoe Koo field goal.
Falcons 3, Buccaneers 0
The Falcons defense allowed Ronald Jones to rumble for 11 yards on the Buccaneers’ first offensive play from scrimmage. But a Desmond Trufant interception on Jameis Winston’s first pass shifted momentum back in Atlanta’s favor.
Atlanta did not capitalize on the turnover, though. The Falcons were set to go for it on fourth-and-3 on the Tampa Bay 35-yard line, but Jaedin Graham’s false start took that option off the table and the Falcons punted it away.
That went poorly, as Tampa Bay responded with a 71-yard Winston touchdown pass to Chris Godwin.
Buccaneers 7, Falcons 3
BREAKING NEWS: Julio Jones is great. His second target of the day was complete for a 31-yard gain, landing the Falcons in Bucs territory. A near-sack from Shaq Barrett on Matt Ryan forced Ryan to unload the ball quickly, which resulted in an incomplete pass intended for Julio Jones. Ryan scrambled for positive yardage, but a penalty on Jake Matthews brought it back and left the Falcons staring down a third-and-17. Ryan’s pass intended for Calvin Ridley was broken up, forcing another Ryan Allen punt.
But thankfully the Falcons are playing the Buccaneers, which means Atlanta added one more to its interception total for the day. Nice awareness and focus from linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, which brings Jameis Winston’s interception total for the year to 20.
The Falcons took over on the Buccaneers’ 19-yard line, and Qadree Ollison finally got some forward momentum in the run game, rushing for 6 yards on first down. An 8-yard Matt Ryan scramble kept things moving. After being stopped just short of the goal, Ollison finished his second NFL score with a Superman dive into the end zone.
Falcons 10, Buccaneers 7
Tampa Bay’s offense went three-and-out, so the Falcons took over again one minute into the second quarter. A Matt Ryan pass to Julio Jones gave the Falcons a first, but two consecutive sacks on Ryan pushed Atlanta back to their own nine-yard line. Ryan fumbled on the second sack, but thankfully recovered it. Atlanta couldn’t convert a first down and punted it away.
I hope you all started Chris Godwin in fantasy and/or DFS. I (Jeanna) had him in my DFS lineup but switched him out for Terry McLaurin and I have some regrets, because at least if I’d started him I’d be getting some kind of benefit out of him torching the Falcons secondary. A 30-yard Winston pass to Godwin set the Buccaneers up in the red zone. A 1-yard touchdown pass to Godwin gave the Buccaneers the lead, though Matt Gay’s PAT was no good.
Buccaneers 13, Falcons 10
Good lord, Matt Ryan is just getting beaten to hell out here. Yet another sack, this time by linebacker Devin White, led to another Falcons punt. It was a great punt return by the Buccaneers, but mercifully, two flags for blocks in the back brought the Buccaneers back to their own 5-yard line. The Falcons need all the help they can get, so we’ll take it.
A deep pass from Winston to Breshad Perriman kept the Buccaneers drive alive. Dan Quinn challenged the completion even though it was pretty clearly complete, so the Falcons lost a dang time out. The drive continued to irritate the hell out of me, as the Buccaneers worked against the Falcons defense like a hot knife through butter. They added insult to injury, capping off the 11-play, 95-yard drive with a Winston touchdown pass to defensive tackle Vita Vea. Yeah, that’s not a typo. This game is stupid. At least Matt Gay missed another extra point to limit the damage a bit.
Buccaneers 19, Falcons 10
The Falcons went three-and-out and Matt Ryan narrowly avoided throwing a pick to, according to the announcers, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, which was clearly not true. It was actually Carlton Davis, who plays for the Bucs and not the Falcons. After a Falcons punt, the Buccaneers took a knee to send this one to halftime.
The Bucs wasted no time. After a little unproductive dithering on the first couple of downs, they moved at will, with Jameis Winston picking up a first down on a scramble followed by two straight productive first downs, with the latter featuring Ronald Jones getting into the red zone. An unproductive first down run and an illegal formation would’ve backed the Bucs up further, but the Falcons declined the penalty to make it 2nd and 9. A quick pass to O.J. Howard and a contact-heavy Ronald Jones touchdown run put the Bucs up by 15 points, with a wild Kendall Sheffield extra point block and Sharrod Neasman’s spirited attempt to return it for two points proving to be a rare high moment.
Buccaneers 25, Falcons 10
Atlanta started things off with a one yard pass to Brian Hill, which is not the start we envisioned. He did nail Russell Gage on the next play for a first down. Unfortunately, Ryan followed that up with a downfield pick to Carlton Davis, despite Calvin Ridley’s best efforts to get it away. The Falcons were officially cooked at this point.
The Bucs fortunately flamed out quickly on their next drive, managing a couple of decent gains on the ground and then punting after Winston missed on third down.
The Falcons got going with stops and starts. A nice grab by Calvin Ridley got a first down and a big penalty on Suh helped them get another one, but it took Julio Jones getting back into the game to get the Falcons close to the red zone. Julio’s first down grab got the Falcons inside the 30, and then Christian Blake fought for six yards to keep things moving. A comical series of penalties, two of them on Jake Matthews, served to back up the Falcons, and Dirk Koetter called two short passing plays to set up Younghoe Koo’s field goal try. Thankfully, he hit it.
Buccaneers 25 - Falcons 13
The Buccaneers continued to destroy the Falcons via Chris Godwin. He made a huge catch and picked up yards afterwards thanks to multiple missed tackles by Desmond Trufant, which allowed the Bucs to quickly get over midfield. They did not let up from there, with Jameis Winston fighting through pressure to hit Mike Evans for the first down, followey two Ronald Jones pickups to get the Bucs close again.
The Falcons defense stiffened up in time to force the field goal try, which Matt Gay hit.
Buccaneers 28 - Falcons 13
Ryan to Julio was the ideal way to pick up a quick first down, and the Falcons kept moving despite some heart-stopping throws that looked like picks on first glance. Qadree Ollison picked up a nice run, got a nice catch, and Ryan kept finding Ridley, but the Falcons in the red zone were less productive. Ryan missed Russell Gage, Vita Vea got a sack, and Ryan’s pass was tipped by Vea on third down. Koo hit the admittedly cowardly field goal try.
Buccaneers 28 - Falcons 16
The Bucs had to pick up a first down, and for a glorious moment it looked like they wouldn’t manage it thanks to excellent defense. Then Vic Beasley had a neutral zone infraction to bring it to 3rd and 5...and then there was an offsides to back the Bucs up. This game was an absolute roller coaster, but the Bucs did have to punt.
The Falcons picked it up around the 20 yard line, but Ryan was sacked on first down. Ryan then couldn’t connect on second down and tried Calvin Ridley on third down but got him out of bounds. The throw was nice and Ridley’s effort was good, but he was simply shoved out of bounds.
My signal cut out and I missed the subsequent Bucs drive, but the Falcons drive ended in a sack of Matt Ryan and then another sack followed by a fumble return for a touchdown, so whatever. It was that kind of game, where had you not paid attention all game you would’ve gotten just as mad as you would’ve seeing the final score.
Falcons 16 - Buccaneers 35
Matt Schaub came in to end the game. He wasn’t faring much better behind the struggling Falcons offensive line before he threw an interception, which made a miserable day somehow even worse. The interception was overturned on review, however, and that ended up mattering because Schaub hit Ridley with a pretty end zone ball that Ridley corralled and kept in bounds by sheer force of will. Touchdown, though the two point conversion failed.
Falcons 22 - Buccaneers 35
The Bucs knelt it out and the game was over.