It was closer than it should have been, but the Falcons hung on for a crucial 34-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Julio Jones had a monster performance with 253 receiving yards to go along with two touchdowns in the victory. Atlanta now sits at 7-4 on the season.
On its first possession, Tampa Bay drove down the field and came away with a field goal relatively easily. However, the Falcons would then counter with a field goal and two Julio Jones touchdowns to take a 17-3 lead. The teams would trade field goals to end the half, making the score 20-6.
Atlanta opened up the second half with a touchdown on their first possession. However, Tampa Bay slowly crept back into the game and suddenly they had the ball in Falcons’ territory trailing 27-20 early in the fourth quarter. Tampa would make a curious play call, electing to throw the ball on fourth down and one instead of running it, and the pass was incomplete, giving the Falcons the ball back midway through the quarter. Atlanta would take advantage, constructing a long drive that resulted in a Tevin Coleman touchdown with just under two minutes remaining that ended Tampa’s hopes of a comeback.
While the Falcons’ offense scored an impressive 34 points on the afternoon, defensive injuries sustained during the game will certainly be a cause for concern going forward. Cornerback Brian Poole left the game with a back injury, and cornerback Desmond Trufant left the game with a concussion sustained during a collision with teammate Keanu Neal. This lack of cornerback depth certainly helped Tampa in their comeback attempt.
This victory is Atlanta’s third in a row and their fourth in five games. The offense seems to finally be playing up to its potential and the defense has been playing consistently solid. The Falcons appear to be peaking at the right time as they head into the final five games of the season.
Coming up for Atlanta will be a big test at home against the 9-2 Minnesota Vikings next Sunday.