The Bucs Stop Here: Atlanta Falcons grabs win no. 2 over Tampa
By Stan Washington | 10/21/2013, 5:12 p.m.
When Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan was told at the post-game press conference that he had his highest QB rating that the general football fan doesn’t understand or even care about, he just shrugged. What was more important to him was his team kept the Tampa Bay Bucs winless.
Despite missing six starters and no running game (18 yards total) there was no second half collapse this time from the Falcons resulting in only their second win of the season, 31-23 over the Bucs at the Georgia Dome. The win gives the Falcons, a 2-4 record and Tampa goes to 0-6. (These guys have even more issues than the Falcons.)
You could feel Ryan’s sense of relief when he stepped to the microphone during his post-game press conference.
“It feels good. Obviously, we needed it,” Ryan said. “All week I thought preparation was very, very good and guys were locked in. We came out and, as a team, played solid football game. We made some mistakes but overcame them and made enough plays to get it done.”
Ryan also overcame not having two of his favorite targets in Julio Jones and Roddy White, both out with injuries. But running back Jacquizz Rodgers and receivers Harry Douglas, Tony Gonzalez and Darius Jonson who came up from the practice squad and did a nice impression of Julio Jones with a one-armed catch. Douglas was the go-to-guy for Ryan pulling in seven receptions for 149 yards and one TD. Rodgers only had 16 yards rushing but two TDs off of 46 yards receiving.
“I just thought he played really well,” Ryan said of Douglas. “It’s what he’s capable of doing, people just may not have known that about him because we’ve had those other guys (White and Jones) playing for so long.”
Getting it done, is what the Falcons was able to do on both sides of the ball despite their many mistakes said Head Coach Mike Smith.
“I thought we put together a very good plan to utilize the strengths of our players,” Smith said. “I thought the coaching staff did a great job. Matt (Ryan) distributed the ball very well. I believe he was close to 150 in his quarterback rating in the ballgame, and he did a very good job distributing it to our playmakers.”
Since becoming head coach Smith has always maintained the philosophy of getting off to a fast start with the offense. But with the offense going three-and-out on their first possession, it was the defense that scored first. Safety William Moore caused a fumble when he tackled Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon and the loose ball bounced right into the hands of Thomas DeCoud who scampered 30 yards for the score.
Moore, who hits like a linebacker had a few big hits during the game and was instrumental in helping the defensive line put pressure on Glennon.
“A lot of that pressure came from our secondary’s coverage; they did a very good job understanding what routes they were going to see,” Smith said. “Their quarterback had to hold the football and we were able to get some pressure on the quarterback.”
But for the defense the big difference was possibly having defensive coordinator Mike Nolan on the sideline instead in the booth. It appears to have worked.
“We weren’t playing as efficiently and as good as we would have liked to, and we thought it would be in our best interest to bring Mike down,” Smith said. “That was the decision that was made last week.”
Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux liked the idea of having Nolan on the sideline. “It was a little different having him down there, but it was a good atmosphere on the sideline. It made the game a little easier for us before we went back out on the field. If he can get down there every game more power to him. We won today so that’s a good thing.”
NEXT: Oct. 27, 4:25 p.m. Arizona Cardinals in Tempe, Arizona
For complete NFL scores, schedules and highlights: www.nfl.com