The Atlanta Falcons may struggle to gain the respect of the media as one of the top teams in the NFL but they certainly have a flair for drama. Atlanta squeezed out yet another win in a 24-23 bout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With the win the Falcons moved to 10-1 on the year, keeping pace with the AFC’s Houston Texans, while the Buccaneers fell to 6-5.
Tampa Bay came into the game on a three game winning streak and a hot Doug Martin in their backfield. Not only did Atlanta snap their winning streak but they also neutralized Martin in the process. For Falcons fans, this was a great sign of their defense’s improvement against the run. The Bucs have one of the top rushing attacks in the league but Martin was held to only 50 yards in 21 carries.
In spite of that stat, Atlanta still allowed the upstart Buccaneers to hang around because they seemed to have been bitten by the turnover bug lately. Matt Ryan, usually known for having ice water in his veins, has had a case of the butterfingers lately. Against the Tampa Bay, Ryan threw an interception and fumbled as well.
Atlanta continued to have its rushing woes as well. Michael Turner carried the ball 13 times for 17 yards, while Jacquizz Rodgers accumulated 49 yards on 10 carries. Most of that, however, was gained on a 20 yard run. This lack of production was to be slightly expected given that Tampa Bay has the best rushing defense in the NFL.
Aside from their turnover and rushing issues, Atlanta kicking issues reared its ugly head, or foot, rather. Matt Bryant was one for three on the day. His only made field goal was at 31-yarder.
As bad as it looks, there were some positives in this game. The most important thing is Atlanta got the win but they also proved they could be a team that is streaking; something they could see in the playoffs. This win also showed that the Falcons can overcome their own poor play as well, which is vital. In the playoffs, anything that can go wrong usually will but teams that have the ability to withstand a slew of miscues can go far.
The Falcons will not have long to enjoy this victory as they have a Thursday night rematch with the New Orleans Saints, who gave them their only loss on the season. The Saints are coming off of a nice thumping from Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers, a team who is waiting for Atlanta to slip up. Atlanta will most certainly have to play better than they did Sunday if they expect to avenge a loss against a Saints team who seems to have their number.