Sound the alarm, the Falcons have switched to the no-huddle! And wouldn't you know it: the Falcons have actually started moving the football. On second-and-11, Ryan was able to hook up with Julio Jones on an 18-yard pick up that pushed the Falcons all the way up to midfield.
Another long connection with Roddy White on third-and-three, this time good for 30 yards, pushed the Falcons all the way down to the Tampa 14. The pass, which somehow floated over E.J. Biggers and into the hands of a tip-toeing Roddy, was an absolute thing of beauty.
Then in an attempt to recreate some of the magic from last week, Ryan then looked at a wide-open Tony Gonzalez in the endzone, but the pass sailed incomplete over everyone. The Falcons would settle for a field goal, which Matt Bryant nailed a from 26 yards out. With that score, the Falcons pulled to an even 3-3 with the Bucs.
Following that possession, the penalties continued. An Atlanta offsides, followed by a holding call against Tampa, had the Bucs in a second-and-15. But with a gameplan that looked as if it was taken right out the Falcons playbook, the Bucs began driving down the field on a series of short completions and LeGarrette Blount running plays. A 24-yard pass to Luke Stocker had the Tampa offense to the Atlanta 30.
Then on first and goal from the eight, Freeman found Earnest Graham on a dump-off pass that came up just short of the goal line. Freeman finished off the drive by taking it in himself on a sneak, making it 10-3 Bucs.
What's worse, Dunta Robinson was seen getting checked out on the sideline after getting shaken up on the previous play. He has been diagnosed with a neck injury, and his return is questionable. With Kelvin Hayden out, that would mean leave Chris Owens as the starting right cornerback.
And in response, the Falcons offensive line fell apart. Sam Baker got embarassed by the rookie Adrian Clayborn, who then promptly nailed our quarterback and caused another fumble inside the ten that was recovered by the Buccaneers. By the grace of some higher power, the Falcons defense came up big yet again and held the Bucs to a field goal.
The Falcons took over on offense, but more penalties on special teams led to the starting field position at the seven. This is getting a little ridiculous. However, with their backs against the wall Ryan and the offense really started moving the ball. Two big completions to Roddy White, among others, had the Falcons at midfield with 0:30 to go in the half.
Then with only 0:10 left in the half on a quick slant to Roddy, the pass was tipped and then intercepted by Ronde Barber. Nothing seems to have gone right for Atlanta this half, but they should consider themselves very fortunate to only be down by 10 points.
Going forward, the offensive line needs to respond with some better protection in the second half. We were promised "explosiveness" this offseason, but how can Ryan make plays when he has no time to throw? Falcons trail 10-3.
For discussion, head to Falcons blog The Falcoholic and Buccaneers blog Bucs Nation, plus SB Nation Tampa Bay.