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Falcons vs. Bucs: Hat tips & head-scratchers

An uneven win but a win nevertheless.

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The Falcons finagled a win at Tampa despite three red zone turnovers. That’s not a recipe for future success, but on Sunday it moved Atlanta into sole possession of the top spot in the NFC South.

Here’s hat tips & head-scratchers from Sunday’s win over the Bucs.

Hat tips

Opening drive

Quick starts are beginning to look like a feature of the Atlanta Falcons’ offense, and on Sunday it once again marched down the field and put six on the board. The Falcons took advantage of solid field position after stopping Tampa midfield on fourth down. Quarterback Desmond Ridder was a perfect 4/4 for 46 yards on the drive, lacing balls downfield to put the Falcons in a position to get on the board. He then handled the task himself, scrambling to the left of the line to slide in for the rushing touchdown.

Desmond throws the dagger

With the Falcons knotted up 13-13 against the Bucs late in the fourth-quarter, quarterback Desmond Ridder tossed a ball downfield and found tight end Kyle Pitts who reeled in the strike for a 39-yard gain. The Ridder-Pitts connection set up kicker Younhoe Koo’s 51-yarder to seal the deal and move the Falcons to first place in the NFC South.

You can make an easy argument that Atlanta won in spite of Desmond Ridder, but he’s uncorked a few of these clutch passes this season. When the Falcons needed him to deliver, he afforded them the field position to top the Bucs on the road.


Where art thou, Bijan?

Although the mystery has been dispelled as a pre-game illness, for the bulk of the game star running back Bijan Robinson was missing in action. He finished the game with one carry for three yards, which if he wasn’t feeling well — fine. The larger issue here is why Robinson was on the field in the first place, and why he was even involved late in the game.

If Arthur Smith knew (and Bijan conceded he did) that Robinson was under the weather, there was no reason for him to see the field at all. That clearly presents a large risk, and petty gamesmanship aside, doesn’t serve any purpose other than exposing your young player to situations where he could suffer an injury.

While the immediate answer was provided as to why Robinson was absent in the gameplan, methinks this may turn into a bigger conversation as the week wears on.

Ridder’s red zone woes

One red zone fumble is maddening. Two is worthy of exile. Three? Don’t particularly want to discuss it — but that’s the ignominious feat that quarterback Desmond Ridder accomplished against Tampa Bay. The Falcons were clearly the better team on the field on Sunday and should have won by a much larger margin if not for Ridder’s inability to hang on to the football. This is an area that absolutely must be cleaned up as soon as possible, because there aren’t many times a team lose the ball thrice in scoring position and come out with a victory.