The Atlanta Falcons’ playoff hopes were dashed to bits as they lost their grip in a game that should’ve gone their way from the start. Any loss is tough for a team and its fans, but this 35-22 loss to Tampa Bay, at home, hands Atlanta their eighth loss of the season. The way things go in the NFL, a seven loss team is usually the last to skirt by into the playoffs. So any hopes they had of making a late run have essentially come to an end.

So what exactly caused the collapse? Well, there were a variety of factors. There were interceptions by Desmond Trufant and De’Vondre Campbell but the defense overall wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Even with those two interceptions, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston was confident enough to pass for over 300 yards and found wide receiver Chris Godwin for 184 yards of those 300 for two touchdowns (and on just seven receptions no less).

The Falcons, for the life of them, couldn’t replicate what the visitors were doing for Jameis Winston. Winston went the entire game without getting sacked. He threw for a total of 313 yards on just 28 attempts. The Falcons, however, couldn’t protect quarterback Matt Ryan, who was hit 12 times, sacked six times and spent the majority of the game under pressure. “They did an excellent job today getting after us. We weren’t able to get into any rhythm,” said Ryan post-game.

Pre Season
Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston had sufficient pass protection the entire game against the Falcons. The Falcons defense failed to sack Winston thanks to the Bucs offensive line (Hakim Wright/TPR)

Remember Winston’s pass attempts? Matt Ryan was forced to throw 46 passes. Those 46 passes tallied an abysmal 271 yards. But why would he need to pass so much? To make up for their lack of production on the ground.

Another week, another nonexistent running game for the Falcons. It has become so bad, that Calvin Ridley (a wide receiver) and Matt Ryan recorded “longest rush” totals higher than their actual running backs (Ridley with 15 yards and Ryan with eight). Brian Hill carried the ball nine times for a total of 14 yards. Qadree Ollison carried the ball eight times for 20 yards, including a one-yard touchdown. But netting 34 yards total from your running backs is never going to win games.

There’s not much to salvage after a game like this. None of the usual from Quinn about brotherhood and such after the game. Calvin Ridley was pretty frank with, “They beat us. They just flat out beat us today.”

Unfortunately, the Falcons won’t get a break. They have to prepare and get back at it Thursday, Nov. 28, for their Thanksgiving rematch with the Saints. This time, they’ll be at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.


-Jon J.

Photos: Hakim Wright

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