The Falcons may have played a pretty poor first half, but this game is definitely within reach if the offensive can step things up.
Well, the Bucs came out running in the second half, and the defense saw a lot of LeGarrette Blount. Then about five plays into the drive, the Falcons had Tampa in a third-and-four situation. Josh Freeman fumbled the snap, and yet somehow heaved the ball into the hands of Earnest Graham for a first down. A late hit penalty pushed the Bucs across midfield into Atlanta territory.
Later on another third-and-four, Dunta Robinson- who thankfully has returned to the game- made a great tackle to prevent a first down. But wouldn't you know it, the Bucs went for it on fourth down, and recognizing that Brian Van Gorder was blitzing everybody they simply had Freeman rollout and run for a first down.
Thankfully, the defense again came up strong in the red zone and held the Bucs to another field goal. That score stretched Tampa's lead to 16-3. Still, the frustration has been mounting in a pretty palpable way all game long, and it only continues to with plays like that. The Bucs continue to maintain possession of the ball, that last drive having lasting for almost eight minutes, and the Atlanta defense is simply wearing down.
So with a score now absolutely needed, the Falcons offense took over for the first time in the second half. Matt Ryan found Harry Douglas twice for a first down, and later rushed for a first down himself. Then just as the Falcons were finally starting to move the ball, Todd McClure botched a snap on third down that led to yet another Tampa sacking of Ryan. So frustrating.
And then the Falcons simply got unlucky: on third-and-11, a Brent Grimes tipped pass went backwards and somehow found its way into the hands of Kellen Winslow. It was great coverage, and yet the defense just could not get off the field. Tampa ran a few more offensive plays before the end of the quarter, but I think it's safe to say that the Bucs owned that quarter well before that point: they won the battle of possession 11:00 minutes to four.
Barring a fourth-quarter comeback of some sort, or rather any sign of offense, the Falcons will have a tough time winning this one. Atlanta now trails 16-3 going into the final quarter of this game.