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Falcons - Buccaneers: Reactions to the final game of the season

From wanting to believe to just enjoying the ride, the staff weighs in one final time.

NFL: DEC 29 Falcons at Buccaneers Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It may not have meant much, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t take things away from this game, especially the crazy finish.

What a fun yet unfulfilling win

The Falcons beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the best way possible: An overtime pick-six of Jameis Winston, making him the only player in NFL history with 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in a single season. That was awesome, yet, this game felt like a summary of the 2019 season. The Buccaneers should have easily won the game, if not for multiple missed field goals. The offense was anemic, with no run game, big plays, and an alarming number of blocked passes and sacks. The Falcons won a meaningless game and showed so many reasons for long-term concern. Did they win just because the Buccaneers did more to lose? We finish the season and I still have no idea if the Falcons are good or just lucked into some big wins after an atrocious start. - Matt Chambers

I want to believe in the defense

How many times has the Falcons defense burned me now? 10? 20?

In spite of all that, the small but steady strides forward in the second half of this season are sucking me in a little bit. I say small not because the defense didn’t improve by leaps and bounds—it did—but they still aren’t generating the huge numbers of turnovers, sacks, and other big plays that would indicate a defense that’s truly ready for primetime.

Against the Bucs, a team that typically eviscerates them, they held their rivals to 15 points. At worst, it would’ve been 24 if Matt Gay had made his kicks, with the remaining touchdown purely on the offense’s lost fumble. They picked Jameis Winston twice, forced a critical fumble, played tight coverage, and generally were nuisances all game long. That paired with the clamps on the Saints and the good effort against the 49ers, plus the team either being able to keep or re-sign most of the guys that got them there this year, makes me feel like we might be headed for our first wire-to-wire decent defense in years.

Of course, the offense is broken and there are still a huge number of holes on this team, so maybe this is a little pre-New Year optimism talking. - Dave Choate

More questions than answers

The Bucs defense is a formidable unit in the trenches, as evidenced by the 6 sacks the Falcons gave up (12 against Tampa in 2019) on Sunday. The offense scored a touchdown in the first quarter then went into field goal mode the rest of the way. While it was fun to see Jameis break the 30 INT mark, the win left us with even more questions about this offense than before. Is the offensive line really an improved unit going into 2020? Can Dirk Koetter steer this talent better next season? Unfortunately, no answers will be coming for the next 8 or 9 months. - David Walker

2018 Deja Vu

The Falcons finished this season the exact same way as last season — on a winning streak which culminated with a last-play win in Tampa Bay to go 7-9. I want to be optimistic and I’ll try my best to talk myself into optimism, but Dirk Koetter’s offense looks obsolete in comparison to some of the other units around the league.

The defense has looked good since the bye week; hopefully that will carry over into next season without Dan Quinn calling plays to screw things up.

While I’m happy the for the players — who ended their campaign on a high note — it’s hard to get excited about another meaningless win streak which has propelled this season into more doldrums of mediocrity. - Adnan Ikic