In the last meeting between the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Dirty Birds escaped with 31-23 narrow victory over a winless Buccaneers team back in Week 7. If the Falcons want to capture just their third victory this year, Mike Nolan’s defensive unit will need to limit Vincent Jackson and his big-play ability through the air.
While the Buccaneers aren’t a winless team anymore after nabbing their first victory of the year against the fading Miami Dolphins, they will be without their top two running backs in Doug Martin and Mike James due to season-ending injuries. Even though the Buccaneers’ lack of star power in the ground game should help the Falcons play a little better defense against the run, it will be up to their secondary to slow down the Pro Bowler Jackson who ran wild against them the first time around.
Jackson reeled in 10 passes for 138 yards and capped off his stellar performance over an outmatched secondary by scoring two touchdowns. Half of those yards came on one play, as Jackson beat Asante Samuel down the field for a 59-yard pass that went for a touchdown.
With a secondary that is allowing opposing teams to pass for 252 yards a game which currently ranks them 25th in pass defense in the NFL, Atlanta cannot afford any more slip ups against the 6-foot-5, 230-pound receiver who had his way with the Falcons’ mediocre corners.
All year long the Falcons have had a habit of not only giving up big plays, but allowing even the worst offenses in the league look like the Kurt Warner’s versions of the Greatest Show on Turf back during his time with the St. Louis Rams. So far, the Falcons have given up 14 plays of 40-plus yards this season, including one last week against the banged up Seattle Seahawks who were without their top two receivers.
Although Nolan’s defense hasn’t done anything impressive as of late, they will have a chance against a team that should be on the same level as them in terms of talent and get a chance of redemption — at least for one week. Jackson will be looking forward to having an early Thanksgiving feast against the Dirty Birds’ secondary, and it will be up to their defense to lock in on Jackson and prevent him from being thankful for his meal.