November 26, 2017
Tampa Bay 20 at Atlanta 34
Finally we see the Falcons we know and love. They came out aggressive, spreading the ball around, and getting Julio Jones involved. Also, breaking records. You know, being Falcons.
The game started off well enough. Ricardo Allen, who had no tackles the week before, leads the defense with the first tackle of the day, and continued to lead the team throughout the day. Ryan Fitzpatrick started with a pass to DeSean Jackson, for a first down, with the stop by Rico. Then they tried to run against Grady Jarrett. Gaining 6 and 4 yards, but running into Grady twice is likely not really winning. Then Fitzgerald ran for a first down and was clobbered by the defense. Near the Atlanta 41, the Bucs run up the middle again, into Grady again. Then the first of many familiar names, Jacquizz Rodgers has a quick 4-yard run. Another quick pass covered by Brian Poole. Then a 3rd down pass in the end zone to Mike Evans that Desmond Trufant knocks out. The Buccaneers kick the field goal with Robert Alford rushing around the corner for the block. With just under 10 minutes to go in the first quarter, Tampa Bay leads 3/0. And that was the last time they would lead for the day.
Andre Roberts caught the kickoff at the goal line and ran out to the 26. Tevin Coleman gets the start again with Devonta Freeman out and started with a nice 5-yard run. Then, shockingly, an early pass to Taylor Gabriel for 4 yards, who meets former Falcon, Brent Grimes. With 1 yard to go, Matt Ryan keeps the ball and pushes through for the first down. A successful 8-yard pass to Austin Hooper, then a signal from Andy Levitre for Coleman to get behind him, for the push for the first down. After a low pass to Julio Jones, Coleman gains a quick 3 yards, then a pass down the left side to Julio along the sideline for another first down. A short pass drops just behind a crossing the field Julio, but Coleman makes up for that breaking tackles for a 10 yard gain, which is brought back by a Gabriel hold. A quick screen to Gabriel gains nothing (not sure when we will learn that is not a good play) but right back to Gabriel, Ryan buys time, stands in the middle of defenders and hits Gabriel for 13 yards, 2 short of the first down because of the holding call. Not to worry, Money Matt Bryant enters the field and easily kicks a 49-yard field goal with a few minutes to go in the quarter.
Quizz (Jacquizz Rodgers as us long time Falcons call him) returns the kickoff 26 yards and is stopped by the returning Duke Riley. Fitzgerald overthrows Evans, the defense collectively stuffs a Doug Martin run, then the FANS are so loud on 3rd down, we cause a false start and get even louder. It’s 3rd and 14 and with Dontari Poe in Fitzgerald’s face, he overthrows the receiver and a quick 3 and out forces a punt to the Falcons 23.
This quick drive starts off well with a Coleman 20-yard run, really turning up the speed. Then a pass is tipped to fall incomplete, overthrow of Hooper who doesn’t make the catch and suddenly Bosher is back on the field. Bosher has nice placement near the goal line, however CJ Goodwin cannot get to the ball in time to down it at the one.
The Buccaneers start on the 20 – my 20, so it is about to get loud. Adrian Clayborn and De’Vondre Campbell are swarming Fitzgerald and tip his pass. On their 3rd down attempt, another errant pass that Brian Poole had his hands on, but hits the ground. Another forced 3 and out and a punt from the 10.
Roberts has an 18-yard return to give the Falcons the ball on the 40. A short Ryan past to Sanu gains 4 yards. Terron Ward goes off the right side and gains 5 yards, stopped by Grimes. THEN the play that will it will go down in the annals of football history. Sanu takes the direct snap, fakes the handoff, the ball pops up in the air, Sanu catches it and throws 51 yards to Julio Jones for the touchdown. Julio’s second touchdown of the season. Another successful 12 Gauge call (still think it should be called BeanCat). Julio catches the perfect pass between two defenders, rolls, pops up, then as the O comes to celebrate, he leads Red Light, Green Light…in the best celebration ever, even if no one told Ryan.
The defense, along with the entire Benz Nest, are fired up and force another 3 and out. A quick pass and quick stop by Rico, Tru, and Grady make the next quick stop. Suddenly it is 3 and 14 and Vic Beasley’s elbow tips the pass and another punt is forced. Brian Poole is shaken up on the series and is being evaluated on the sideline.
Roberts gets a few yards on the return. Then Julio has a 20-yard reception. Then a 15-yard reverse to Julio. Coleman has a 6-yard, then 1-yard one off the left side. On 3rd and 3, Ryan finds Sanu across the middle for yet another first down. Then Ryan decides he wants to pass for a Julio touchdown. Julio LITERALLY flies over the end zone cone for the touchdown. Only Ju. Jones sells the post, the defender commits to the inside, Ju turns out, Ryan has already released the ball and Julio catches it as he starts to fall out of bounds, but stretches the ball over the end zone cone first. Excellent offensive line blocking to give Ryan time.
The next Tampa Bay drive starts at the 17 after a Quizz return. Then we see a heavy dose of Quizz with limited success. The Bucs are able to move the ball most successfully because of a CJ Goodwin PI as he was closing guarding DeSean Jackson. Brian Poole has been ruled out for the rest of the game at this point and Trufant is playing inside at nickel. On a 3rd and 3 with 2 minutes remaining in the half, Trufant makes a tackle along with Keanu Neal, who hits Trufant more than the downed receiver and Tru stumbles off the field. A few plays later Fitzgerald drops back and sees Clayborn easily throw the lineman aside (similar to a ragdoll being tossed) and closing and make an errant throw. His next pass is also incomplete as Clemson (Grady and Vic) are coming for him. Then he is hit as he releases his next pass to the end zone, which Rico knocks away and it fall incomplete and the Bucs settle for another field goal
Roberts brings the kick off out to the 23. The offense starts with a dose of Coleman for a nice 7 yards. Then, again, Julio for 22 yards, then it’s Ju, Sanu, Ju, until a ball is incomplete to Julio in the end zone, so with 10 seconds left, another successful field goal. So, at half time, the Falcons lead 20 to 6 and everyone is feeling good.
Meanwhile, at half time, Arrow star, Stephen Amell comments that Mohamed Sanu is a better quarterback than any Cleveland quarterback in the last 10 years. I love that Stephen Amell is even aware of our game.
The Falcons offense comes out on fire. Opening up with a 23-yard pass to Julio. A 5-yard run by Coleman. Then a loss by Coleman, but immediately followed up by another 25 yards to Sanu, who knocks the defender back off of him. Then Hooper gets a 20-yard reception. Then Coleman has two back to back runs, the first a break out for 9 yards behind a big Andy Levitre block, then a 3-yard, hard fought touchdown run behind a Wes Schweitzer block. Coleman comes up celebrating with carrying a baby in honor of his twins born on Saturday.
In 9 plays for 78 yards, the Falcons take a 27-6 lead. Meanwhile we find out that Poole is out for the game and Trufant is headed back to the locker room to be further evaluated after the Neal hit. Doug Martin for the Buccaneers is also ruled out for the rest of the game.
Fitzgerald finds a wide open Evans for 20 yards and is immediately stopped by Rocky. At their own 45, the Bucs try a run and are met by Derrick Shelby, Poe, and Grady for no yards. Fitzgerald throws a bad pass, and Rocky is called for holding, only a 5-yard penalty. Fitzgerald throws a bullet down thru the middle of the field moving the Bucs to the 33-yard line. A few plays later, Rico sees something, calls for different personnel that cannot get on and off the field in time causing a time out. Due to injuries, Rico is playing corner and rookie Damontae Kazee at inside free safety. This is the flexibility that Coach Quinn is always talking about. However, it starts a little rocky and the Bucs are able to rush for a touchdown to reduce the Falcons lead to 27/13 late in the 3rd quarter.
Roberts has another good return, up to the 35, where an ankle tackle saves him from a likely touchdown return. After Terron Ward loses a yard on the right side, Ryan has a behind the line pass to Julio, for a first down. Then a pass down the right side to Julio, for a first down. Coleman has back to back successful runs, up the middle, then spinning up the middle on the left side. After a 6-yard pass to Sanu, the Falcons are forced to punt.
Quizz has a return up to the 44 with Neal chasing him down. Then, likely feeling bad about knocking Tru out of the game, Neal nearly gets an interception. Fitzgerald runs up the middle for 21 yards and slides, likely saving his life as the defense was swarming to him.
As the 4th quarter begins, the Bucs continue another touchdown drive. Moving within 7 points of the Falcons.
Roberts gives the offense the ball at the 22. Ryan starts out with a look at Gabriel, then as Julio crosses the field, catches the pass on the run for a 44 yard reception and electrifying the crowd again. A failed pass to Hooper, then a 2-yard Coleman run, then back to Julio for another first down at the 23. Then Ward bullets up the middle for 9 yards, heading for an easy touchdown, as a defender from behind rips the ball loose. And of course, Grimes is there to recover the fumble and return it to the 42 where he is chased down by Ryan Schraeder.
Then in true Brotherhood form, the defense stands up to help out the offense. Fitzgerald takes the Bucs quickly down the field, with quick passes to avoid Takk McKinley coming at him. A quick run up the middle, then on the next pass, TAKK meets Fitz for the sack and lays him out. Then does 10 push-ups. Near the 20, Fitzgerald throws incomplete to the end zone, then on 3rd and 2, the crowd (me included) causes a time out. Next play, if you are an Atlantan, you will get this, Rico MARTA busses the receiver. Poe lays Fitzgerald out as he throws to the end zone where Keanu defends the pass perfectly, forcing a 4th down. Rico knocks the ball out of the receiver’s hands before it is declared a catch.
The Falcons take over and go back to their routine. Julio, Sanu, Sanu, Coleman run. Once again, while being knocked around Julio makes another Julio type catch, shakes the tackles and gets another 23 yards. Tampa Bay begins taking their time outs as Coleman grinds out yards, carrying numerous defenders with him for 8 yards. Ward gets the ball again, gets 1 yard, the pushes and earns 13 more yards on his own and jumps up excited. Just after the 2-minute warning, Coleman runs in a 14-yard touchdown and cradles the second baby to ensure both of his twins got touchdowns in their honor today.
In prevent defense, the Falcons allow the Buccaneers to easily move down the field, nearing the 35 and a 4th and 10, Rocky stops the receiver just short of the first down marker and the clock runs out.
What a great team win. Offense lit it up. Defense was pretty consistent, even with the injuries. Special teams has been straightened out. With the New Orleans Saints losing, the NFC South is getting a little closer, and if the Falcons do their job, we may very well take it….again…..
Injury Report: Devonta Freeman continues concussion protocol and will be evaluated as the week progresses. Desmond Trufant will be out against Minnesota in concussion protocol. Brian Poole’s back injury is ok and is expected to play. Note that Jalen Collins came off of suspension last week and was released from the Falcons, so they are not looking to bring him in to step in for Tru like last season.
Iron Falcon: Obviously goes to Julio Jones who had 253 yards on 12 receptions and 2 touchdowns. Then, also, Mohamed Sanu, not only for perfecting the 12 Gauge, but receiving 8 passes for 64 yards and converting several 3rd downs.
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