The Atlanta Falcons spent their Sunday afternoon in Tampa Bay hoping to take home a victory. Broadcast on Fox, the Falcons went on offense first and faced a hearty Buccaneers defense. Despite a few solid runs by Michael Turner, the rest of Atlanta’s performance wasn’t as encouraging. Tampa Bay used two of its first-half time-outs after only four minutes of the first quarter elapsed. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan nearly threw an interception; fortunately, the Falcons had to punt the ball away anyway.
Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman didn’t fare any better with his offense. When the Falcons got the ball back, the Falcons’ passing game was considerably more impressive. A couple of crucial catches by tight end Tony Gonzalez led to a Michael Turner touchdown. Atlanta 7 and Tampa Bay 0. The Buccaneers’ passing and running game jumped to attention by the bottom of the first quarter. Running back LeGarrette Blount all but staggered into the end zone with under a minute left. Atlanta 7 and Tampa Bay 7.
Three minute into the second quarter and Matt Ryan nearly threw another interception. Not long afterward, Buccaneers Aqib Talib left the game due to an upper right thigh injury (issue of discomfort). That Tampa Bay defense just would not let up–what would’ve been another set of downs for Atlanta became a punt. The Falcons’ passing attempts hadn’t been too solid in the first half of the game, but Matt Ryan managed to throw a gem to wide receiver Harry Douglas twenty-one yards away. Approximately sixty seconds later, Falcons fullback Ovie Mughelli made a scramble into the end zone. The ball broke the plane before his knees hit the turf. Atlanta 14 and Tampa Bay 7. In the final two-minutes of the first half, Matt Ryan did throw an interception (Buccaneers safety Sean Jones got his mitts on the ball). Halftime would commence with the Buccaneers tying the score, courtesy of wide receiver Mike Williams…and flags going down for unnecessary roughness on Buccaneers guard Jeremy Zuttah (for unknown reasons because the instant replay from behind the light melee revealed that Zuttah was on the ground for the pile).
The third quarter began with a would-be TD for the Buccaneers, except that Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson knocked the ball from the intended receiver’s grasp (and just at or near the goal line too). The Buccaneers soon took the lead with a thirty-three yard field goal. Tampa Bay 17 and Atlanta 14. HOLY VEGGIE STIR-FRY WITH TOFU!!!! Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes swooped in on Josh Freeman’s pass with six minutes left in the third quarter. Tampa Bay challenged whether or not it was an interception due to the level of control Grimes had of the ball as he came down to the turf…and they won the challenge. After the interception was reversed, defensive end Kroy Biermann was flagged with a personal foul because he was unable to (or simply did not) re-route his momentum as he was going after Josh Freeman.
The fourth quarter began brightly (or not) for Tampa Bay as safety Corey Lynch might have intercepted Matt Ryan’s pass meant for wide receiver Roddy White. Atlanta challenged that call and lost. A couple minutes later, the Buccaneers got themselves another TD. Josh Freeman gave the ball to running back Ernest Graham, who threw the ball to tight end John Gilmore (who was in the end zone). Tampa Bay 24 and Atlanta 14. Would the Falcons be able to get at least 2 FGs and a TD before the fourth quarter is over? Well, after the Buccaneers kicked the ball to Atlanta, wide receiver Eric Weems ran the ball back 102 yards for a TD. Tampa Bay challenged whether or not Weems stayed in bounds during the start of his run. Tampa Bay 24 and Atlanta 21.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, Mike Smith challenged whether or not the ball that Roddy White caught was complete or incomplete (on account of the ball hitting the ground). I believe the call would stand. Part of the ball did hit the ground. Perhaps Atlanta should’ve not challenged? Roddy White made an awesome catch shortly thereafter; Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez limped off the field after getting tangled with Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber. With just over four minutes left in the quarter, Matt Ryan and wide receiver Michael Jenkins connected for a nine yard TD. Just ten seconds into the two-minute warning, Brent Grimes intercepted another Josh Freeman pass…and the booth review confirmed it. With that defensive move, the Falcons were able to run the clock out and secure their second win against Tampa Bay at Tampa Bay. Atlanta 28 and Tampa Bay 24. Final score.
Observations & Miscellania:
1. Narration was provided by Dick Stockton and Charles Davis.
2. The Buccaneers wore light orange tops and white pants. They looked like orange creamsicles. Their team logo–etched on the helmet–looked like a blob of pomegranate mush. Or Thousand Island and ketchup. The Falcons wore white jerseys and white bottoms.
Get game summary, stats, and play-by-play here.