Another day, another tight win for Atlanta. This one came right down to the wire and Falcons won by the slimmest of margins at just 1 point. Matt Ryan was much improved from his 5 INT performance of last week, throwing for a 353 yards and completing 26 of 32 passes. He threw only one TD and added one pick in this game. He also had what could have been a crucial fumble after he was blind sided by EJ Biggers, but Tampa Bay could not take good advantage of that turnover. Overall though, it was a great game by Ryan. Julio Jones who was questionable all week leading up to this contest showed up in a big way. He had 147 yards including a big 80 yard TD reception that broke open the game a bit for Atlanta. The rushing game was a big factor, as expected considering the Bucs stout run defense, but both Turner and Rodgers added a TD on the day. It was intriguing that Rodgers actually led the team in rushing, taking 10 carries for 49 yards, compared to Turners 17 yards on 13 carries. Rodgers may finally get more of a role in this offense.
The Falcons defense has to be given some credit in this one. Doug Martin who has run over the entire league recently was bottled up for much of the day. He carried the ball 21 times but managed only 50 yards. He added two scores, but both came from just a yard out. Freeman had a good second half, but was very quiet in the first. At the end of the game he also could not get it done, ending a few crucial drives with incomplete passes. Freeman got his yards at the end, but when it comes down it, it was a little too late.
The Falcons improve to 10-1 with another scrappy win. The Bucs gave it their all in what could have been a huge motivational win going forward. Instead, they will be fighting for their playoff lives each and every game going forward. This game obviously meant a bit more for them than a team that is a lock for the playoffs. That is big for a team that doesn’t want to enter the playoffs too comfortable with their situation. The Falcons have a short week as they will host the Saints on Thursday night football with another chance to hurt an NFC South team’s playoff hopes.