Atlanta Falcons Blog

Atlanta Falcons blog by D. Orlando Ledbetter, the pro football and Atlanta Falcons reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Falcons’ report card: Team regresses in sloppy, penalty-laden performance

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Falcons coach Dan Quinn and Matt Ryan both spoke after a 23-20 overtime home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports from the Georgia Dome.

Despite the ridiculous mishandling of the football and a game laced with 14 penalties, the Falcons somehow managed to rally back from a 17-point and force overtime against an up-and-coming Tampa Bay team, which had to overcome its own coaching blunders.

Nobody from Canton, Ohio will be calling asking for a game tape of this one. If anything, this game was tribute to former Commissioner Pete Rozelle and this whole ill-conceived notion of “parity.”

For the second week in a row, the Falcons treated the football with reckless disregard in another rudimentary display of “professional” football.

Let’s get on to the grades:

Game ball: Lovie Smith, Tampa Bay head coach. The Falcons were so kind in gifting the Bucs four turnovers that led to 20 points, that the Tampa Bay coach thought it would nice to give back with a bootleg call to go for it on fourth down and give Matt Ryan a short-field to force overtime. Former Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter bailed out Smith with some nice calls during a 15-play game-winning overtime drive.

Quarterbacks, D. Ryan had an interception, a botched hand off, another fumble in overtime that Devonta Freeman recovered, a nearly botched toss and he failed to fall on a Mike Person’s errant snap. That’s too many ball handling mistakes by the normally flawless Ryan. He was 37 of 45 for 397 yards passing with two touchdowns and the interception. He finished with a passer rating of 109. The Falcons were 2 of 6 in the redzone (counting the drive that ended at the 20.)

Running backs, C. Devonta Freeman rushed 21 times for 88 yards and averaged 4.2 yards per carry. His string of three straight 100-yard games was snapped. Tevin Coleman had three carries for 11 yards. Freeman played 67 of 80 snaps (85 percent) and Coleman played 10 snaps (12 percent).

Wide receivers/tight ends, C. Julio Jones caught 12 of 13 targets for 162 yards and a big touchdown with 17 seconds left to force overtime. He played 72 of 80 snaps (90 percent), but had the ball taken from him by Tampa linebacker Kwon Alexander. Jones must be used more in the redzone. Roddy White is an afterthought in this offense. He had two catches on just three targets. Rookie Justin Hardy made his debut and played 53 snaps (66 percent) and had more targets than White with four. Hardy caught two passes for 21 yards. Tight end Jacob Tamme had 10 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons used their three-tight end formation as Tony Moeaki played on 11 percent of the snaps. The Falcons had two 100-yard receivers for the first time this season. Jones (162) & Tamme (103). The last time Atlanta had two 100-yard receivers in the same game was Week 13 of 2014 against Arizona–Jones (189) and Harry Douglas (116).

Offensive line, D. The unit committed four of the 14 penalties. Left guard Andy Levitre had two accepted false starts. Right guard Chris Chester had an accepted holding call and center Mike Person had a declined holding call. Overall, the run blocking could have been better as the Falcons averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. Ryan was sacked once, but hit 10 times as Tampa Bay defensive tackles Henry Melton (three hits) and Gerald McCoy (three hits) turned in strong games.

Defensive line, C-minus. For just the second time this season, the Falcons run defense gave up more than 100 yards rushing. The Bucs, who gained 117 yards on 32 carries, became the first team to rush for more than 100 yards on the Falcons since Dallas rushed for 127 yards in Week 3. The Falcons had two sacks and seven quarterback hits, but only two of the hits were by defensive linemen. Paul Soliai registered a hit and so did Adrian Clayborn. Rookie Vic Beasley played 29 of 69 snaps (41 percent) and had two assisted tackles. Ra’Shede Hageman had four tackles. Soliai (left hand) and Tyson Jackson (ribs) suffered injuries, but returned to the game. Kroy Biermann tied for the team lead with six tackles.

Linebackers, C-minus: Paul Worrilow and Justin Durant were solid. Worrilow had five tackles and a quarterback hit. Durant, who left the game but returned, had four tackles. Brooks Reed played 45 of 69 snaps (45 percent), but had just one tackle.

Defensive backs, C. The Falcons, who were without starting safety William Moore because of a groin injury, finished the game with three-fourths of the starters out after cornerbacks Desmond Trufant (lower back) and Robert Alford (groin) left the game. Trufant injury is not expected to be serious. He attempted to return to the game. Phillips Adams and Jalen Collins finished the game at cornerback. Ricardo Allen and Kemal Ishmael were the safeties. Adams was called for a key pass interference in overtime to help get the Bucs in field goal position. Allen tied for the team lead with six tackles.

Special teams, C-plus. The Falcons didn’t punt against the Bucs. Matt Bosher boomed his six kickoffs, which were all touchbacks. Matt Bryant made short field goals of 21 and 24 yards as the offense continued to stall in the red zone. Returner Eric Weems had a 31-yard kickoff return and averaged 11.5 yards on two punt returns.

Coaching, D. The penalties and the red zone play-calling must be put under the microscope and corrected by the coaches, immediately. The shoddy ball handling is on the players and their proper execution of the plays. The Buccaneers entered Week 8 with the most penalties per game in the league while the Falcons were among the least penalized teams. The Bucs came to the Georgia Dome and dragged the Falcons down into the muck. The Falcons were called for 14 penalties which resulted in 124 loss yards. Three penalties were declined. The two false starts by Levitre and the two defensive offsides (Clayborn and Beasley) are utterly unacceptable. The rest of the penalties were errors of commission. Defensively, the coaches were limited to zone coverages with the backups in the secondary in overtime. Also, the defense almost had another too many men on the field penalty in overtime. Better organization with signal calling may be required.

How did the Falcons get to 6-2?

Here's a look back at the game stories, news and notes from the Falcons' 23-20 overtime loss to Tampa Bay,  win over the Titans (10-7), the loss to the Saints (31-21) and their victories over the Redskins (25-19 in OT), Texans (48-21), Cowboys (39-28), Giants (24-20) and Eagles (26-24).

TAMPA BAY GAME COVERAGE -- Bucs 23, Falcons 20 in OT

5 things we learned in the Falcons' 23-20 loss to the Bucs

How the Falcons lost to the Bucs in OT

10 comments from Dan Quinn after the loss to the Bucs

Adams disagreed with overtime pass interference call

Matt Ryan's miscues help to gift the Bucs' 20 points

QUOTEBOARD: What the Falcons were saying after the 23-20 loss to the Bucs

Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston bests his role model: 'Mr. Ryan'

Falcons defense holds up, but forces no turnovers

Falcons rallied behind wide receiver Julio Jones

Bucs rookie linebacker Alexander dedicates win to deceased brother

TENNESSEE GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 10, Titans 7

5 things we learned from the Falcons' 10-7 victory over the Titans

BRADLEY: Falcons do enough to survive

10 comments from Dan Quinn after the Falcons' 10-7 victory over the Titans

NEW ORLEANS GAME COVERAGE -- Saints 31, Falcons 21

5 things we learned in the Falcons' 31-21 loss to the Saints

Saints hand Falcons their first loss -- Quarter by Quarter

Matt Ryan: 'It was a tough night'

5 comments from Dan Quinn on the Falcons' loss

What the Falcons had to say after their 31-21 loss to the Saints

Why didn't the Falcons feed Freeman? -- Mike Check

Falcons flash some of their ugly past -- Jeff Schultz column

Falcons-Saints by the numbers

Tweetcap: Falcons flop in New Orleans

WASHINGTON GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 25, Redskins 19 in OT

Falcons pull out 25-19 victory over Redskins in OT -- Quarter by Quarter

5 things we learned in the Falcons' 25-19 win over the Redskins

Alford's 59-yard interception return saves the day

What the Falcons had to say after the 25-19 win

Ryan, offense struggle with turnovers

Mark Bradley column: The Frenetic Falcons: Five-and-oh-my!

Roddy White hears support from the crowd

15 comments from Dan Quinn on the Falcons' victory

Roddy White: 'I'll be a Falcons for life'

Tweetcap: Falcons beat Redskins in OT

TEXANS GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 48, Texans 21

How the Falcons hammered the Texans -- Quarter by Quarter

5 things we learned from the Falcons' 48-21 win over the Texans

Devonta Freeman stars again for the Falcons

What the Falcons had to say after pummeling the Texans

9 comments from Dan Quinn on the Falcons' victory

Jeff Schult'z column: Devonta Freeman, 7 TDs -- who didn't see that coming

Schraeder, Matthews keep Watt in check

Hankerson turns in a 100-yard receiving day (second of his career)

Houston's J.J. Watt tips hat to the Falcons

Former Falcons great Jessie Tuggle honored during Texans game

COWBOYS GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 39, Cowboys 28

Falcons 39, Cowboys 28 -- Quarter by Quarter

5 things we learned from the Falcons' 39-28 win over the Cowboys

Mark Bradley's short takes: Julio, Freeman and the defense

Devonta Freeman is catalyst for Falcons run game

QUOTEBOARD: What the Falcons had to say after beating Dallas

Julio Jones does it again: 12 catches, 164 yards and two touchdowns

Mark Bradley column: A dominant half shows what he Falcons could be

Offensive line cracked the run-game code

Ryan directed second-half fireworks show

Beasley help lead resurgence on defense

Where's Falcons wide receiver Roddy White?

GIANTS GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 24, Giants 20

Falcons 24, Giants 20 -- Quarter by Quarter

5 things we learned from Falcons' 24-20 win over the Giants

Mark Bradley column -- Don't stop believin': Dan Quinn's men are 2-0

A record day for Julio Jones: 13 receptions

Kroy Biermann: 'We're a ball-attacking team'


5 things we learned from Falcons' upset win over Eagles

Matt Ryan leads Falcons to 26-24 win over the Eagles

Jeff Schultz column: An impressive debut by Quinn's new Falcons

Mark Bradley column: A new year: The Falcons dig deep and hang on

Julio Jones moves into fifth on Falcons' all-time receiving list

Tevin Coleman powers new rushing attack

Ricardo Allen seals victory in first start at free safety

4 questions with Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones after the game

Falcons rookies Beasley, Jarrett make impact

Falcons' revamped offensive line shows positive signs

Falcons quotes after their victory over the Eagles

Falcons-Eagles: By The Numbers



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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.