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Falcons vs. Bucs: Hat tips & head-scratchers

Hoooboy.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

A disaster on both sides of the ball — particularly in the trenches, where Atlanta was consistently dominated by Tampa Bay.

Hat tips

Atlanta’s opening drive

Tampa Bay opened up the scoring with a quickness, marching down the field on their initial possession to put seven points on the board. We’ve all read this book before — but the Falcons surprised us with a narrative shift.

Atlanta had an answer to that opening salvo — one that featured two of the nicest runs by the Falcons’ backs all season. Wide receiver/running back/kick returner/Dead Sea archeologist Cordarrelle Patterson snapped off a 39-yard run, one that was followed shortly by a 17-yard sprint and touchdown by Mike Davis.

Good to see Atlanta respond in immediate fashion.

Marlon Davidson pick-six

I believe our Kevin Knight referred to it as a Thicc-Six in our writer’s chat, but whatever you want to call it, it was a play to behold. Defensive tackle Marlon Davidson read quarterback Tom Brady’s eyes and picked off a pass intended for running back Leonard Fournette.

We all love a Big Man Touchdown, so he completed the play by scampering three yards and put the Falcons within striking distance.

They dropped this game at home, but it was great to see Davidson’s awareness on display. More of this in the future, please.

Head-scratchers

The decline of Deion Jones

Middle linebacker Deion Jones has not looked like his old self in quite some time, and nowhere was that more evident than on the Bucs’ first two scoring drives. His blown coverage on Tampa Bay running back allowed quarterback Tom Brady to float a pass over his head for Tampa’s first touchdown. His initial first move on the play left him out of position and unable to recover before being beat.

On Tampa’s next possession he was similarly beat by tight end Cameron Brate for another red-zone touchdown.

With his declining level of play, it’s possible that he suits up elsewhere next season.

Offensive line

A putrid performance from the Atlanta offensive line. This unit allowed five sacks and 14 hurries, with Matt Ryan holding on for dear life in a pocket that was constantly collapsing around him. New rotational center and rookie Drew Dalman botched two snaps, creating more chaos for an Atlanta offense begging for any kind of production.

Awful, awful day at the office.

Defensive line

Sensing a theme? The Falcons were dominated in the trenches by the Buccaneers on both sides of the ball, with Atlanta’s defensive line unable to muster any kind of pass rush or pressure on quarterback Tom Brady.

The Falcons’ defensive line logged three hurries and four total pressures in a game where Brady carved up the secondary at will to the tune of 368 yards and four touchdowns.

Marlon Davidson was the lone bright spot on the otherwise poor performance from the D-line.

Decisions, decisions

Arthur Smith has made some curious in-game decisions during his initial run as Atlanta’s head coach. A couple of those shaky calls occurred in Sunday’s game.

With a defense that clearly could not stop Tampa Bay’s offense, Smith elected to kick a field goal on 4th & 3 in the second quarter from the Bucs’ three-yard line, settling for the points in what seemed like a clear go-for-it scenario.

He did not trust his defense in that moment, but he head-scratchingly decided to punt on 4th & 12 from near-midfield in the fourth quarter with 7:33 left to play.

It was a 10-point game at that moment with half a quarter to go, so was he preemptively waving the white flag or suddenly deciding that his defense could get the ball back in short order to mount a comeback attempt?

Confounding.