As the Atlanta Falcons (2-4) came out with just their second victory against the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-6), the Falcons finally had a reason to smile a little in a season that has been filled with grief and sadness. Harry Douglas promised that he wouldn’t shy away from a challenge or play “Superman”, but his red jersey could have been mistaken for a red cape as Douglas emerged a hero.
With a little over five minutes to go in the second quarter, Matt Ryan and the Falcons lined up in a shotgun formation. With the ball snapped, Ryan surveyed the field and threw a beautiful 37-yard touchdown to put the Falcons up 24-7.
It wasn’t Roddy White going up and making the tough catch, nor was it the athletic Julio Jones snatching the ball out of mid-air. Instead, it was Douglas, the guy who has never recorded 500 yards receiving in a single season or caught more than one touchdown in his five-year career.
Instead of Douglas staying in his comfort zone, he stepped up and flourished as Ryan’s No. 1 target. Douglas told ESPN:
“I’m the type of person that I never shy away from it. Julio went down. Roddy wasn’t playing. I wanted the challenge. I’ve always been like that my whole life.”
On a day where the Buccaneers limited the Falcons’ Pro Bowl tight end to two catches for 30 yards, it was a sigh of relief that the slot receiver was able to become a playmaker when the Falcons needed it the most. As the season continues, Douglas needs to continue to play at a high level even when White returns from his injury.
Throughout Douglas’ career, many have wondered if the speedster could ever live up to his potential and become a consistent threat in the passing game.
While Douglas doesn’t have the numbers of a Pro Bowl caliber player, or even close in putting up statistical numbers worthy of Hall of Fame status, what Douglas did do is step up in a crucial moment in a game that could be a launching point for one last run.
Douglas also showcased his immense skill and ability to be a playmaker for Ryan, as the Falcons hope that he can continue to be a difference maker for an offense that has been plagued with injuries. As Douglas exploded onto the scene against the Buccaneers, it may be just enough spark to get the Falcons jump-started during the second half of their season.