This is an adjunct to coverage of the Falcons' 27-17 win over Tampa Bay Sunday.
Below are my three "Short Takes" on the game:
1. DON'T GET TOO EXCITED, BUT: When a team starts 2-6 and ends the first half with a five-game losing streak, it generally has all playoff hopes buried. Somehow, that's not the case with the Falcons. Their win over Tampa Bay pulled them to within one game of "first-place" New Orleans (4-5) in the NFC South after the Saints lost in overtime to San Francisco. If the Falcons intend to pull off this miracle, they are going to have to keep winning -- a lot. They can't assume the Saints or Carolina (3-5-1) will keep losing. The Falcons have one advantage in division tiebreakers: They're 3-0 against NFC South opponents. The problem is they've already played the Bucs twice. They still have to play Carolina twice and New Orleans once.
2. JACKSON HAS AN IMPACT: Most would say running back Steven Jackson hasn't been the great pickup the team hoped for, but that's a little unfair because of the offensive line that has been in front of him (as well as Jackson's injury issues). But he had one of his best games as a Falcons Sunday, rushing for 81 yards on 16 carries (5.1 per-carry average) and a touchdown. The 81 yards were a season high and accounted for his second-best day as a Falcon, behind only his 84-yard, two-touchdown game against Buffalo last season. A strong second half by Jackson would make opposing defenses think twice about teeing off on Matt Ryan and give the Falcons a chance to win some games.
3. DEVIN, OH DEVIN: Devin Hester has been a nice pick up for the Falcons as a returner but he had a major blunder as a wide receiver in the second quarter. On third-and-goal from the 19, Tampa Bay somehow let Hester get wide open in the end zone and Matt Ryan threw a perfect pass to him. But Hester admitted taking his eye off the ball after seeing Buccaneers safety Bradley McDougald closing in for a hit and he dropped a certain touchdown. The Falcons had to settle for a field goal to take a 10-3 lead.
Hester's drop, via Vine