The Atlanta Falcons defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34-20 in a game that featured another superhuman performance by Julio Jones, a classic steady performance by Matt Ryan and a defense that overcame injuries to stonewall the Bucs.
First and foremost, wide receiver Julio Jones caught twelve passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns. The first touchdown came on a 3rd-and-1 from the Atlanta 49 yard line. Wide-receiver Mohamed Sanu bobbled the direct snap and fired a pass to the deep right for Jones, dropped in the breadbasket while beating the safety.
OMG.@Mo_12_Sanu just threw a BOMB to JULIOOOOOOOOOOO. pic.twitter.com/z7jVjVMrbF— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) November 26, 2017
“That’s not something that we just put in this week,” Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn said. “It’s been something that we’ve had not just this season, but we’ve had it up last season as well. Sometimes you’re just waiting for a look that could happen. I’ve got to tell you, I wasn’t confident in it when I saw him bobble the snap, but I knew when he ripped it down the field, we’d have a chance at it. He’s a really good athlete. He can throw it, he can punt it, he can kick it. He can damn sure catch it, but for today, I thought there were some good third down conversions by him. That connection from Mo to Julio, we were excited for that one.”
On Julio’s next touchdown reception, he faked the defender into believing he was running towards the middle, then immediately cut the outside, made the defender fall down, caught the wide-open pass from Matt Ryan and majestically dove into the endzone. That play put the Falcons up 17-3 with 7:35 left in the second quarter.
🚨 JULIO JONES IS GOING OFF 🚨 pic.twitter.com/OXSGSoBtUh— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) November 26, 2017
“I thought when we got the opportunities and he was singled up, we did,” Ryan said. We were aggressive and went to him. It’s not often that we get that many single opportunities a game, but we got that today. I think historically, we have done that. When he’s gotten a single matchup, he’s been incredibly explosive. I thought Steve Sarkisian did a really nice job with us. We do make an effort to try and find ways to get him going because he’s so special. Today was one of the days that he went off.”
In 90 career games, Julio Jones has 563 catches for 8,649 yards. Both numbers are the best in NFL history through 90 games. Also, the Alabama standout is the only player in NFL history with multiple 250+ receiving yard games. Jones has three such games.
“When I came out of the route, I caught the ball and I turned back and saw the defensive back on the ground, Jones said of his second touchdown reception. “I’m guessing he slipped down, but like I said earlier we don’t practice any bad ball security here. I would have never stuck the ball out had I seen him upright. I saw him on the ground, so I had to get in there.”
Also, Ryan was 26-of-35 for 317 yards with one touchdown pass. The offense tallied 516 total yards on the day. The Falcons’ offense recorded 148 rushing yards, averaging 5.3 yards per carry on 28 attempts. Tevin Coleman ran for 97 yards on 19 carries and had two touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the defense held the Buccaneers in check for most of the day. Tampa had 40 rushing yards in the first quarter. They had 53 rushing yards for the rest of the afternoon.
Atlanta’s Brian Poole and Desmond Trufant were knocked out of the game with a back injury and a concussion respectively. Safety Ricardo Allen stepped up and took leadership of the secondary in their absences.
“I’ve always been real big in my details, just in case if something were to happen,” Allen said. “You can’t dress everybody in the secondary role, so you have to be ready for anything that can happen. That’s why I always talk to [Damontae] Kazee, and make sure that he is ready because he is my counterpart. If I have to go somewhere else, then he has to go to free safety. He and I are always working together, and I am always studying for worst case scenarios.”
The Falcons are 7-4 on the season and are third in the NFC South. If the season ended today, they would be in the sixth and final playoff spot in the NFC.