It definitely was not going to be an easy task by any means. Going into Tampa Bay to take on the defending Super Bowl champions was the mountain that awaited the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, and they departed the humid Sunshine State with an 0-2 record after a 48-25 loss at the hands of the champs.
However, there were a few positives to pull from this game that the Falcons can possibly build on. Here are a few things we learned from the Falcons week two game against their division foe.
#1: The offense finally found a rhythm
From the top half of the second quarter to the latter half of the third, the Falcons offense found a rhythm that made this a 28-25 contest late in the third quarter. In the span of six consecutive drives during that time period, the Falcons scored three touchdowns, a field goal, and a two-point conversion to keep pace with the Buccaneers. That came after a flat start to the game that included two questionable fourth down decisions in the opening quarter.
Make note of the fact that the offense has only had two games to make things work so far, but during that portion of the game, you were able to see how good the offense can be once they get the group clicking on all cylinders. They just need to get do that consistently, and soon.
#2: A glimpse into the future
While he was not able to post 100 yards or a touchdown, rookie tight end Kyle Pitts was involved in the game plan for the Falcons and made a considerable impact. Pitts led the team in receiving yards on the day and caught five of his six total targets.
He also was able to catch a pair of critical third down receptions, including a beautiful 24-yard reception in the second quarter that showed his elite after-the-catch ability. Incorporating Pitts into the game will be pivotal to determine how much success Atlanta has offensively this season. If this was a sample size of what he can bring to the table, Pitts is going to be a very dangerous piece in no time.
#3: The importance of A.J. Terrell
We saw the glimpses last season of how promising Terrell can be as a cornerback prospect. Coming into this season, the expectation level for Terrell were rightfully raised and on Sunday against the Buccaneers, Terrell was able to show why he is evolving as one better young corners in the NFL.
Terrell was able to put together two beautiful pass deflections that negated potential big plays to Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown. However, a concussion suffered in the second half cost Terrell and the Falcons defense and because of his absence, the defense suffered. On a defense that is void of elite talent, the presence of Terrell dictates a lot when it comes to defensive functionality and his growing ability is being seen on a weekly basis.
#4: Defense still missing big plays
When Brady is hot, he is scorching. While that is the case, when you have rare moments to flip the game, you absolutely must take advantage. As they captured momentum in the third quarter, the defense was handed a couple of chances to limit possessions from the Bucs.
A dropped interception and a forced fumble that they did not recover were fortunate, squandered chances you don’t often come across when facing a Tom Brady-led team. Those are the plays that have to be made when you are trying to pull off an upset. In reality, it has been a issue for that side of the ball for years, and the game might’ve been very different if Dante Fowler’s strip sack and Terrell’s tipped passes were accompanied by the pick and another picked-up fumble. This element has to come around at some point and if it does, it can a huge difference for this defense.
#5: The value of Patterson
Once Cordarrelle Patterson signed as a free agent this offseason to a one-year deal, many were expecting him to make an impact mostly on special teams. So far on the season, Patterson has been used on offense a little more than expected.
On Sunday against the Bucs, Patterson only totaled 69 yards from scrimmage but he also contributed two touchdowns. His second touchdown narrowed the Tampa Bay lead to 28-25 and placed the Falcons in prime position to pull off the possible upset. The role is for Patterson is for sure to grow as the season progresses and so far he has proven to be a weapon that defenses have to start accounting for.