It was ugly. It looked fairly hopeless for a minute. Many streaks had already ended (no turnovers, no penalties, Ryan’s INT streak), and it looked as if the Falcons 5 game win streak would end in Tampa Bay where they killed the curse last season. The Falcons looked sloppy, out-of-sync, and completely flat for most of the game and the Bucs were fired up and ready to get back in the NFC South mix. Then the Falcons do what they’ve done all season: never quit. An overall pretty bad day across the board, but this team refused to lose and found yet another way to win the ballgame. This team has a bunch of fighters that never quit and will do whatever it takes to win the game. The Falcons beat a tough Bucs team and overcame a poorly played game to get the W. The ugliest wins are so much better than the prettiest of losses, and the Falcons got it done once again. Five film reviews from the “refuse to lose” Falcons……….
The Bird Cage author will gladly eat crow all day long and for the rest of the year with criticism that has been aimed at one Mr. Eric Weems. The guy single-handedly turned this game around when most hope had gone out the window. The Bucs had all the momentum in the world. Following another bad interception by Matt Ryan, the Bucs took the ball right down the field (as they did most of the day) and scored to make it a 10 point game in the fourth quarter and gave the home team all the momentum in the world. It looked as though the Falcons would need a miracle to get this one. Eric Weems has always had pretty good returns in terms of pure yards, but has never broke one all the way for a touchdown. The guy broke several tackles, found a seam, and was gone. 102 yards later, Weems hung onto his first touchdown ball with dear life. No flags and great blocking from a much maligned special teams got the Falcons right back in the game and sucked all the momentum right out of Tampa Bay’s stadium. Even a desperate challenge flag thrown by HC Raheem Morris couldn’t overturn. The Falcons had new hope and it was almost known at that point that the Falcons would find a way to win it. Weems criticized no more, instead…….Wonder Weems!
Not to be negative here, but (as Somebody and CBrass pointed out) which cornerback got the $50+ million dollar contract this off-season? Brent Grimes played it like it today, not Dunta Robinson. The guys is all of 5’9 and plays like he’s 6’5. He has some of the best ability and fight of anyone else on the team. He’s been picked on all year because of his height and because of Robinson’s “supposed” cover skills. He’s certainly had some plays made on him this year, but when the Falcons defense as a whole couldn’t make a play to save their life (especially on 3rd down), Grimes made not one but two outstanding interceptions that turned the game around. The overturn call on the first interception was complete garbage. The second one was even reviewed again and the former NFL official on satellite seemed to almost be rooting against Atlanta with his calls. The play was upheld in a change from a really terrible day officiating and the rest is history. Grimes not only had the superb skills and awareness to break on the ball perfectly, but he also had the recognition to know he was untouched and race down the sideline and get a cheap shot by the new Golden Boy Josh Freeman. Even though Grimes got the cheap shot, Freeman ended up with the bloody lip. Many fans wonder whether Grimes is in the Falcons long-term plans. The answer should be an emphatic YES!!
This one goes directly to the defensive coaching staff, particularly DC Brian Van Gorder and HC Mike Smith. As Screen Pass noted, how many times during a season can you go with a three man rush against a good quarterback holding a tenuous lead and allow the opponent to drive right down the field with absolutely all day to hang out in the pocket, do the laundry, watch a full season of The Office, mow the lawn, and still be able to pick apart the defense. The players may miss plays, but this one goes directly to the play-calling. The Falcons actually bring pressure with the lead on first down and guess what happens…a near sack that concluded with an intentional grounding penalty that dropped the Bucs to 2nd and 20 with only a few minutes left. Guess what came next? The same old garbage they’ve been doing all year: three man rush with soft zone, prevent (from winning) defense. After a broken up pass on 3rd down, Freeman once again had all day and fired a bullet right into Sammie Stroughter for a first down. Remotes from the Bird Cage Family were likely launched across the room.
Despite a few bad individual plays here and there, the players are there on defense to be aggressive and make plays. The defensive play-calling is awful and they have to be one of the worst 3rd down teams in the NFL. How many 3rd and longs did the Bucs convert? It seemed like about 10. It’s almost a forgone conclusion now that the opponent will convert on 3rd and long. Yes, the secondary can have lapses and poor plays at times, but everyone in the world knows what the Falcons will do on 3rd and long. Brent Grimes made a huge play that bailed out the terrible play-calling. Please stop blitzing Brian Williams when its so obvious what’s coming and it never works (not his fault, but insanely predictable). Hard to complain when the Falcons are 10-2 and keep finding ways to win, but play with fire too many times and eventually you’ll get burned and the offense or a great play on defense may not bail you out.
Everything started pretty good. The Falcons were up to their usual tricks of running the football extremely well and making great routes and throws to march down the field. Sure, they didn’t look like world beaters and didn’t have their marquee 10+ play drives, but they were doing what they had to in order to take control of the game. The Falcons built a 14-7 lead and had the ball with 2:00 minutes left in the second quarter. At best the Falcons could go down and score a touchdown or field goal and at worst they could eat the clock and put the Bucs in bad field position. Matt Ryan had one of his worst days of the season and his errant throw intended for Tony Gonzalez went directly to Sean Jones. A nice return followed and the Bucs of course punched it in to completely change the entire makeup of the game. The offense committed a ton of penalties after playing error-free football for so long. Ryan’s struggles continued in the 3rd quarter where he threw another interception, which then gave the Bucs a 10 points lead.
The Bucs absolutely ate up the underneath and intermediate stuff and Ryan could have easily come out of the game with 4+ picks. He was off and looked like the 2009 version, making bad decisions and even worse throws. After Weems magnificent 102 kick return for a touchdown, the Falcons got it together and marched down the field for a score. When the game’s on the line, this offense plays at its best. A few penalties and a clutch, perfectly thrown ball to Roddy White on 3rd and 20 kept the game-winning drive alive. Facing a third and goal without Tony Gonzalez, Ryan threw a bullet to Michael Jenkins who made a great catch and run to win the game in the endzone. Michael Turner had a great day running, but definitely missed Snelling’s relief and pass catching abilities out of the backfield. Ovie Mughelli had a huge day and made a statement to the coaching staff to give him the ball more in space and through the air. Bottom line is that the offense had an ugly day, particularly Matt Ryan, but once again when the game was in the balance late, they found a way to win.
Most of the times when you have one of the worst pass defenses and pass rushes in the NFL, you can get by if you also have one of the best run defenses. The Falcons had neither today. After being able to shut down pretty much any running attack, the Falcons run defense floundered today to a Bucs team that started 4 rookies on offense (Blount, M. Williams, Benn, Larsen) and eventually grew to 5 with veteran center Jeff Faine getting injured. Legarrette Blount and Josh Freeman ran on the Falcons pretty much at will and most of it had to do with terrible tackling. Countless times defensive lineman, linebackers, and the secondary alike would get hands on the offensive player only to see them slip away. The tackling was pretty atrocious across the board. Players couldn’t finish the tackle all day long. Often times they would have either Freeman or Blount in the backfield for a loss and allow them to escape either for a big gain or at least get back to the line of scrimmage. HC Mike Smith was commenting the other day on how they’re easing up in terms of practice and let’s hope that’s not taking a toll on the defenses fundamentals of tackling or aggressive nature. The Birds have a lot to correct on the D side of the ball and tackling/wrapping up is at the absolute top.
-Roddy: Just let your play do your talking for you.
-That field looked like a cow pasture. Both teams were sliding.
-The officiating was pretty bad.
-Grimes first interception overturned was garbage.
-It was ruled an interception on the field and there was no “conclusive” evidence to overturn it.
-Does NFL TV official Mike Ferrera have a son who plays for the Bucs?
-Bad blood between these two teams.
-Biermann’s late hit was a bad call. Freeman wasn’t even out of bounds.
-The very next play Freeman acted like he was going out and darted back in.
-William Moore is arguably the best hitter on the team.
-Dunta Robinson made a few plays, but got burnt way too much by rookies.
-The Bucs started like 8 rookies and almost beat us.
-HC Raheem Morris has done a great job with this team.
-Gartrell Johnson had zero impact and Snelling was missed.
-Need to draft a RB high in next draft.
-Harry Douglas had nice long catch, but he and Ryan still have issue on long ball
-Can Mularkey please try and stretch the field when the D’s intent on stopping intermediate?
-Hope Gonzo’s injury is not serious.
-Coach Smith is already 4th all-time on Falcons list of all time victories by a head coach….WOW!
-Babs had another huge game.
-Still no pass rush from D-Ends.
-Stephen Nicholas had a good day.
-Every time they send Nicholas on a blitz, something good usually happens.
-Biermann’s like JA#98 used to be…always an inch from a sack.
-Should Jamaal Anderson get the nod back at DE?
-Spoon still doesn’t look the same since the injury.
-Should they just shut Spoon down for the season and heal up.
-Here’s a name you’ve forgotten: Trey Lewis. Inactive again today.
-Corey Peters pick sure is looking good right about now.
-DeCoud seemed to look a little better today.
-The Falcons are 10-2, could still lose to N.O. and get #1 seed with wins over Panthers twice and Seahawks.
-Can we get Weems in the game on offense?
-Coach Smith missed a big challenge when Bucs weren’t even close on a “called” first down with Josh Johnson in the game at QB and the pitch to the RB.