Falcons fly past Bucs, improve to 2-4


The Falcons start to the 2013 season has been rough to say the least as they have lost four of their first five games.

In order for the Falcons to get out of the 1-4 hole they dug themselves in and turn the season around, they had to get a win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at the Georgia Dome. They did just that as Matt Ryan threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns to lead them to a 31-23 win.

“I thought we put together a very good plan to utilize the strengths of our players,” Falcons head coach Mike Smith said. “I thought our coaching staff did a great job.”

The Falcons jumped on the Bucs early in the first quarter when William Moore sacked Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon, forced the fumble and was picked up by Thomas DeCoud which was returned 14 yards for the touchdown. The Falcons increased the lead to 14 early in the second quarter when Ryan threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jacquizz Rodgers. But the Bucs answered back on the ensuing drive when Glennon threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson.

But the Falcons offense was able to respond with a 10-play, 78-yard drive which ended with a Matt Bryant 23-yard field goal to lead by 10. After forcing the Bucs to punt, the Falcons increased the lead to 17 when Ryan threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Harry Douglas. The Bucs did cut the Falcons lead to 14 on the final series of the half with a Rian Lindell 36-yard field goal.

The third quarter was won by the Bucs, but they were only able to cut the Falcons lead to seven. It was Jackson who came up big for Tampa as he caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Glennon. That drive was possible because the Bucs were working with a short field (the drive started at the Falcons 23 yard line) due to a fumble by Robert Alford on the punt return.

But the Falcons were able to increase the lead back to 14 when the offense put together an 8-play, 80-yard drive which started late in the third and ended early in the fourth. Ryan threw an 8-yard score to Rodgers to put the pressure on the Bucs to score 14 points in 14 minutes.

“That has been out focal point in practice,” Rodgers said when talking about getting in the red zone. “We know that seven points is better than three.”

The Bucs were able to put together an 18-play drive, but they only got three points out of it and the drive lasted nine minutes. The Bucs got the ball again after a Falcons punt and scored another field goal to cut the lead to eight. They tried for the onside kick but DeCoud got the ball and the Falcons sealed the win.

It was a well played game by the Falcons on both sides of the ball. Ryan was as efficient as he has been all year as he tallied a quarterback rating of 148. Douglas, who had to play the role of No. 1 receiver due to the injuries to Julio Jones and Roddy White, was huge for the Falcons as he caught seven passes for 149 yards and one touchdown.

But the defense was able to make plays as well. The Falcons got three sacks on Glennon and allowed the Bucs to convert only 29 percent of their third downs. Moore led the way for the Falcons with seven tackles and one sack. He thinks that the fact that defensive coordinator Mike Nolan was one the sidelines instead of in the press box helped with the players able to communicate with him.

“He let us know during the week he was going to be out there,” Moore said talking about Nolan. “He got to see some things you really can’t see upstairs. He got to get the call in faster. It helped us put a lot.”

The Falcons will look to go 3-4 next week when they go on the road to face the Arizona Cardinals. They know it will be another challenge and all they can do is take it step-by-step.

“We had to win this one because we couldn’t go 0-3,” Rodgers said talking about the Falcons playing the last three games at the Dome. “We know how tough it is to win on the road. We have to see what Arizona brings to the table.”

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