The Falcons earned a crucial division victory on Sunday, beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road 16-13 to move to 4-3 on the season. It was a game that once again went down to the wire and required a Younghoe Koo game-winning field goal, but come playoff time, a victory is all that will really matter.
There are still a couple of months of regular-season football remaining, however, so the details are important in helping determine the current status and future prospects of the Falcons. That’s what brings us here today.
After touching the ball just three times all season, the veteran running back had his best offensive output on Sunday. Patterson carried the ball 10 times for 56 yards, helping Tyler Allgeier shoulder the load in the backfield with Bijan Robinson limited due to health reasons. Patterson displayed his typically excellent kick-returner vision out of the backfield, making several hard cutbacks against an over-pursuing defense.
The 32-year-old playmaker looked fresh, which feels intentional given the length of the season and the number of injuries that occur. With Robinson unexpectedly out, it’s a true blessing to have a player of Patterson’s ability fill in.
It’s unfortunate that Troy Andersen’s season was unexpectedly cut short, but Landman has been a really nice player in his absence. Landman led the Falcons with 12 tackles on Sunday, which set a new career high for the former Colorado star. He’s a player Atlanta worked to develop last season, and he’s now proving to be much more than a reserve linebacker and core special teams player.
Landman’s nose for the ball is impressive; he forced a fumble deep in Tampa Bay’s territory that Atlanta should have converted into points if not for a fumble of its own. That’s not on Landman, though, who is as responsible for the high level of defensive play as anyone right now.
Grumbles were beginning to emerge from some corners of the Falcons fan base in recent weeks about Grant’s level of play. There were high expectations for Grant when he was selected in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but he’s not emerged as a full-blown star in the mold of an Antoine Winfield Jr., who the Falcons just faced. Still, Sunday was a big step in the right direction and Grant’s late-game interception was critical.
Prior to that pick, though, Grant made some really nice tackles over the middle of the field to prevent extra yardage. He had one play at the first-down marker where he didn’t make the stop, but that’s going to happen from time to time. By and large, this was a nice game from the third-year safety and hopefully a sign of things to come.
Bonus: Younghoe Koo, who has a permanent parking spot at the top of the stock charts.
Aside from the turnovers near the goal line, including two at the 1-yard line, I thought the offense moved the ball really well, particularly Desmond Ridder. Therefore, I’m not going to call out any one individual for this, but it’s a problem that needs to be addressed. I know plenty of y’all are ready to give center Drew Dalman all of the blame for the fumbled snap—go watch the play again, he puts the ball where Ridder should get it—and the offensive line shares some responsibility for the first fumble.
Nevertheless, these are mistakes that likely should have cost Atlanta the win on Sunday. Fortunately, they didn’t. But there’s no quicker way for a team to take itself out of contention than by taking points off of the board because of turnovers.
This is only a mild note because I’ve seen Harrison working hard hours before games in sessions with Ryan Nielsen. If he’s putting the work in to get better, that means something to me. However, there was a second-down play with just over 7 minutes left in the second quarter where Harrison made the mistake that lands him here. Atlanta ran a late simulated pressure with Kaden Elliss that resulted in Harrison getting a free run at the quarterback.
Right at the tackle point, however, Baker Mayfield dipped underneath Harrison and avoided the sack before firing a pass to Rachaad White for a 22-yard catch-and-run. What should have been an 8-yard loss turned into an explosive play that set Tampa Bay up at the Falcons’ 6-yard line. Credit Mayfield for his composure and athleticism, but you can’t miss in a moment like that.
Bijan Robinson Fantasy Owners
What a brutal day that one was, huh?
“Just as we got through warmups and early on, [he] just wasn’t feeling like himself, so he played, but we weren’t going to overdo it,” Arthur Smith said after the game. “Just being cautious. When you have other guys that can go… we’re a team. So, we’ll just continue to see and monitor tonight and tomorrow. I’ll have a better answer for you tomorrow.”
Who would you like to shout out or call out? Make your case in the comments below.