Buccaneers at Falcons: 3 key matchups

Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud intercepts Giants quarterback Eli Manning during second quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud intercepts Giants quarterback Eli Manning during second quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM


Falcons S Thomas DeCoud/Charles Mitchell vs. Bucs TE Dallas Clark: DeCoud was left off the NFC Pro Bowl squad despite recording six interceptions, second to New York’s Stevie Brown among conference safeties. With the NFC’s top seed wrapped up for the Falcons, DeCoud figures to give way to Mitchell, a 2012 sixth-round draft pick. Clark, 33, no longer is a dominant pass catcher, but he can be effective, and quarterback Josh Freeman has targeted him a lot lately.

Falcons LT Sam Baker/Lamar Holmes vs. Bucs DE Michael Bennett: Baker is healthier than he’s been in a while, and that’s reflected in his play. Baker anchors the Falcons’ strong pass protection. Baker can become a free agent after the season, and the rookie Holmes, a third-round draft pick, could be his successor. Bennett has recorded nine sacks and three forced fumbles this season, both career highs.

Falcons CB Dunta Robinson vs. Bucs WR Vincent Jackson: There have been a handful of games this season when opposing quarterbacks have stayed away from Asante Samuel and targeted Robinson. Robinson is a physical defender who excels at smothering short routes. He gives up a lot of size to Jackson, who bolted San Diego to be a featured receiver in Tampa Bay and has posted career highs in receptions (69) and receiving yards (1,334).


Finishing regular season ‘the right way’

Ryan, Gonzalez, Jones voted to Pro Bowl

Matt Ryan named NFC offensive player of week

Matt Ryan Q-and-A

Safety William Moore to miss fourth straight game

Falcons wait for playoff picture to clear

Pro Bowl teams announced Wednesday

If playoffs started today

Joe Hawley added to active roster

‘Different team’ vows to end playoff flops

Plan is to ‘play to win’ regular-season finale

Playoff tickets on sale Thursday

Matt Ryan leads victory over Lions for NFC’s top seed

Get instant updates on Twitter at AJCFalcons and you can join the Facebook Fan page at AJC Falcons.

30 comments Add your comment


December 29th, 2012
4:26 pm


Falcons roll big time and then put it on Cruise control


December 29th, 2012
4:32 pm

You have to make the Bucs think they can’t win this game early.

Sausage King of Chicago

December 29th, 2012
4:59 pm

Looking forward to seeing Lamar Holmes work the left side

Eric C.

December 29th, 2012
5:23 pm

Key Matchup #1 : Mike Smith vs Dirk Koetter and the “when do we rest the players” debate

Eric C.

December 29th, 2012
5:28 pm

How about the Falcons lose 30-20 again and get their heads right for the playoffs. I mean, hey, that panthers debacle was good for a couple of good wins.

Winning big in the last game the past couple of seasons didn’t do jack for the Falcons.


December 29th, 2012
5:40 pm

Since we don’t lose back to back games…lose this one so we can make a run in the postseason!


December 29th, 2012
5:45 pm

Lookiing for to seeing the big fella Holmes play a little…AFTER Matt Ryan exits the game of course. I think I’d rather McCown be the guinea pig for that…just in case


December 29th, 2012
5:48 pm

Looking FORWARD that is

Truth be told...

December 29th, 2012
5:51 pm

The Falcons will win tomorrow and lose their first game in the playoffs like they always do!


December 29th, 2012
5:55 pm

Let’s be real here. Matty Ice played 5 years at Boston College and 5 years in the NFL and in those 10 combined years he never played in a conference playoff game or an NFL playoff game.

That’s interesting.


December 29th, 2012
5:56 pm

Correction: Never won.

So Silly to be You

December 29th, 2012
6:00 pm

I am not sure what Django meant but he is wrong. which makes it alright. You sat and thought hard about something wicked and cool and deep to say about Matt Ryan and you screwed up. Now that’s interesting.


December 29th, 2012
6:26 pm

Falcons will win a playoff game this year.


December 29th, 2012
7:26 pm

How foolish will it be if Matt Ryan gets hurt in this game before the playoffs. This is a business. There is only one correct answer. Sure, you may get lucky and have no injurys. But if you do it will be CATOSTROPHIC ! BENCH THE STARERS! It’s that easy.


December 29th, 2012
8:18 pm

I trust our Falcons coaches to make the right call… either they play the starters enough to practice certain situations or they take them out. Either way, I will enjoy watching everyone who is on the field. I actually hope to see some time from the backups so I can see how they are progressing. I’d like to see a backup QB and some backup running backs for certain. Also a nice backup tight end and of course Lamar Homes. I’d also like to see some of our rookie D-Lineman Travian Robertson. GO FALCONS! YOU ARE RISING UP!

The Reverend Baby Doctor Bedpan

December 29th, 2012
9:19 pm


December 29th, 2012
10:43 pm

I would like to see our backup QB play with the starters for 3-4 series and then pull starters. Give Matt one series, maybe. Matt is the key. If he goes down we are done.

Big Daddy

December 30th, 2012
3:25 am

I think they have to play the starters to keep them sharp. They probably won’t play them the entire game and they make try some plays just to see how they work. Most starters will come out early if we get a lead.

NFC South Champs

December 30th, 2012
5:55 am

……….. 14-2


December 30th, 2012
7:07 am

Finish Strong- Winning the last game of the season before heading to the playoffs is something we should set our goals on.
Atlanta will have to wait 2 weeks to play and most likely take a week off before settling into practice.
I really hope Mike Smith has learned something about not practicing from last years loss to Green Bay and forgoes the idea that the Falcons must practice and approach this game with some seriousness or they AGAIN will lose the 1st playoff game with home field advantage and leagues best record.
Why cant we be all business and practice and prepare without time off until theres no more football left to play?
The REWARD for putting time and effort into practicing and preperation is a Super Bowl Ring that goes to the best team during playoffs.
Nobody remembers 2nd place but they do remember when a team cant even win a playoff game when they have home field advantage and havent lost a home game.
It took Atlanta 17 weeks which is 4 months 1 week to get home field advantage but 1 day to lose a playoff game.
Im tired of seeing records set from other teams when they play us. Why cant we set records?
People would “die” to be in your position and make the kind of money you make and yet i see certain players not tackle, let up on plays, mis blocks, walk instead of run and they are just there to fill a void.
I just hope that i see a dominant Falcon team from here on out that has a hunger to win a Super Bowl and takes Home field seriously because this is “Your House” and “Your City” and no one comes here dancing on your parade.
Go Falcons!

JosephDaKoolest a.k.a No Answer For Julio

December 30th, 2012
7:51 am

I think Mike Smith has chamged his approach from previous years. We should definitely play the starters in the first half at least. We cain’t be afraid of anybody getting hurt. I mean why play any gam if you are afraid of getting hurt. I belive in Mike and Thomas Dimitroff’s philosophy. I trust them. We will have two weeks off we should definitely play this game so we don’t become complacent or get ouy of rythm. And It is and iwill always be Go Falcons!!! The Real A Town Got Your Back!!!!!!


December 30th, 2012
8:02 am



December 30th, 2012
8:11 am


December 30th, 2012
8:25 am

Falcins 38 Bocs 23 Falcon Coach Mark Smythe will let his starters, including both quarterbacks RG2, Tebowl, and Tony Romeo, get a really big lead, and then he’ll put in the 9 bench-losers squad to aviod injeries. Look, I know everything there is to know about how to loose a foosebell game, okay? and Coach Smith is not me, he knows to get the ball in the paint and to walk power hitters, okay, and he’ll be doused with koolaid at the end of this game. That’s fer sure, that’s for dang sure. By crackey. Ryan should be great today on defense. The choreleaders need to really prance around half neked today to make sure we wins. we fans need to watch the refs close too, cause they cheats. we would have a winning season if the refs hadn’t cheated us every single play.

Falcon James

December 30th, 2012
8:31 am

A win would be nice to close the season, but our real game is in two weeks. If the Falcon want to play one drive with the starters and bench them, then fine with me. I would love to the backups out there. We have some deep talent, and beating the Buc with backups would be awesome.

Doge Carithers

December 30th, 2012
11:10 am

Falcons stick to the blue print and game plans they used against the Giants and they will win their first Super-Bowl game -and squash the the Busc-send them back to the sorry slammer.


December 30th, 2012
11:14 am

Only pull the starters if we are up by 2 scores or more. With the bye week we can get rusty, it happened 2 yrs ago vs Green Bay. Gotta stay sharp! You play to win the game!!!


December 30th, 2012
11:40 am

Doesn’t matter who wins this one. This team is too grown up for a momentum win to be a factor. Don’t risk the starters after halftime if that long. The real season starts in 2 weeks and that will be a very important game. We are Super Bowl contenders. Go Falcons


December 30th, 2012
11:42 am

Not sure I agree on the rusty against Green Bay comment Aaron Rodgers was so good that day nobody beats Green Bay.

[...] Buccaneers at Falcons: 3 key matchups Buccaneers at Falcons: 3 key matchups. 4:04 pm December 29, 2012, by D. Orlando Ledbetter. Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud intercepts Giants quarterback Eli Manning during second quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, December 16, 2012 … Read more on Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]