For about three quarters, watching the Falcons play (or attempt to play) the Buccaneers was a pretty painful sight. Atlanta simply didn't execute play good football, making several mistakes in the process, and it ended up being too little, too late as they fell to the Bucs 16-13.
This week's highlights from Tampa Bay tell the same story we've been hearing all season: poor pass protection, not-so-special teams, and a boatload of penalties led to the Falcons demise this week.
Early on, we see the Bucs defensive front consistently getting inside pressure from the right side, meaning Garrett Reynolds' pass protecting skills have not yet improved. Sam Baker and Justin Blalock also had a few miscues against Tampa. Matt Ryan was constantly being knocked down all game, and if this keeps up I'm not sure he'll be healthy for very long.
You'll also notice a very failed attempt at a WR reverse. The Falcons tried out shiny new rookie Julio Jones on the reverse, but it was the same old with that: it was stuffed by Ronde Barber for a huge loss. For the love of Mularkey, I wish we would learn to stop calling that play.
What the highlights do not show is the attempted fourth-quarter comeback, in which Ryan actually got some protection and the offense put a couple of scoring drives together to pull within three points of the Bucs. Ryan found Julio Jones six times for his first career 100-yard game. Roddy White also eclipsed the century mark.
However, as luck would have it the Falcons would fall short, with the game being sealed on an offsides penalty (in which it was painfully obvious what the Bucs were trying to do. Here's what Brian Van Gorder had to say about the play.
If there was any good news from this game, however, it was the defense. Thomas DeCoud got his hands on a Freeman pass in the end zone early, negating a score. Sean Weatherspoon racked up eleven tackles on the day, and seemed as if he was flying around the field all game. Ultimately, the defense would only give up one touchdown (and a bunch of field goals).
Still, the Falcons have yet to put together a full game all season long. Being 1-2 isn't dire straights, but you have to wonder where this talented offense has been all year. The Falcons better find their rhythym soon.