Well, that was ugly. In another throwback performance to last season, the Falcons lost to Tampa Bay 23-20 in overtime. They committed four turnovers, which led to all 20 Buccaneers’ points before the overtime. I’ll have a full column on the game posted soon on MyAJC.com. Until then, here are my three “short takes” on the game.
Here are the short takes:
1 Good Teams Don’t Play Like This: The 23-20 loss to Tampa Bay makes three straight mediocre performances by the Falcons, following a 31-21 loss at New Orleans and a 10-7 narrow escape at Tennessee. The Falcons are 6-2 but 0-2 against NFC South opponents, which could be a factor later in the season. The Falcons lost despite having 496 yards in total offense to the Bucs 290. How does that happen? With turnovers. The Falcons had three in the first half and one in the second. Quarterback Matt Ryan had two (interception and an aborted handoff to Devonta Freeman), Julio Jones lost the ball after a long gain and center Mike Person rolled a dreadful snap attempt, which seems to be a Falcons’ center specialty this season (James Stone did it in the New Orleans game). The Falcons’ offense was in the red zone six times but two of those ended in turnovers, two in field goals and two in touchdowns. That’s just giving too many points away.
2. Lovie Smith, What Are You Doing? Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith got away with one. His team was in the process of blowing a gift-wrapped 20-3 lead but still lead 20-12 with two minutes left when he surprisingly decided to have his offense go for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 40. The Falcons had zero timeouts left. The logical decision would’ve been to punt the ball and make the Falcons go 80 yards (or more) to tie the game with no timeouts. But the Bucs went for it and quarterback Jameis Winston was buried. “I would make that call 10 out of 10 times,” Smith said later. Yeah. And he’d be wrong each time. The Falcons took over and Ryan drove the team 40 yards in five plays (one minute, 35 seconds) to the game-tying touchdown. Winston and the Bucs’ defense rescued their head coach with an overtime win. But the game never should have gotten that far.
3. The Greatest Play That Didn’t Count: We knew Julio Jones was a great receiver. But did you know he also could teach a class in defensive pursuit and tackling? On the Falcons’ opening drive, Ryan threw an interception four yards deep in the end zone that Tampa Bay linebacker Kwon Alexander returned 93 yards and appeared on his way for a touchdown. But Jones — the only Falcon in near pursuit — somehow ran him down, grabbed him and threw him down at the Falcons’ 11-yard line. As it turned out, the entire play was nullified by a Bucs’ offsides penalty but the crowd was still buzzing after watching Jones’ play on the video board.
•Recent ramblings • Matt Ryan: ‘It comes down to me being better’ • Weekend Predictions: Jacksonville on Halloween? Ooh, scary: Gators over Dogs • Georgia’s quarterback problems fall at Mark Richt’s feet • Budenholzer can coach but can he build a champion? • Overreaction Monday: Ryan’s off, Tech’s alive and Georgia… • Georgia Tech has unforgettable moment in otherwise forgettable season • Short takes on Georgia Tech’s miracle win over Florida State • Weekend Predictions: Falcons win, Jackets lose, ACC miserable • (Full column) Rick Pitino should lose job, culpable for Louisville mess • Rick Pitino may not survive latest claims regarding strippers, recruits • Overreaction Monday: Would Richt give Ramsey another look? • Misery like this shouldn’t happen at Georgia Tech • Short takes: Tech’s run of bowls, non-losing ACC seasons will end • Falcons flash some of their ugly past in loss to Saints • Short takes: Falcons still plagued by poor pass rush, turnovers • Weekend Predictions: Spurrier, Cubs, Playboy…and Georgia can still win SEC East! • Spurrier changed face of SEC, and then he walked out the back door • Health would be Spurrier’s only good excuse for retiring in middle of season • Florida quarterback suspended for PEDs — and claims of, ‘I didn’t know’ ring hollow • Overreaction Monday: Chubb’s loss isn’t Georgia’s only problem • There goes Chubb, there goes a loss, there goes Georgia’s season • Short takes: After loss, Georgia is trailing even Kentucky in SEC East • It’s too late to save season but Sefolosha deserved to hear words, ‘Not guilty’ • Weekend Predictions: No fantasy, Chihuahuas will rebound (I think) • Braves may have a plan but it will be a while before masses buy in • Here’s your Depressed Braves Fan viewing guide to the postseason • Overeaction Monday: Now is not time to make decision on Richt • Falcons 4-0, Freeman 7 TDs — who didn’t see that coming? • Short takes: An easy Falcons win, and this is a team to take seriously • Richt and Georgia fall off stage again when it matters most • Short takes: Georgia’s reality check — there’s a problem at quarterback • Georgia needs win over Alabama to alter perceptions • Weekend Predictions: Nothing sinister here – Dogs over Bama • Georgia hired Jeremy Pruitt for games like this • Nationals are a more attractive mess than the Braves • Overreaction Monday: Georgia may be 4-0 but season starts now • Georgia now can prepare for opponent that matters most: Alabama • Short takes on Georgia’s win over Southern • Weekend Predictions: Lilly takes the lead and likes Falcons • Falcons’ fourth-quarter fizzles absent so far under Dan Quinn • Braves have been more adept at building off field than on it • Overreaction Monday: Are things as they seem with Falcons, Dogs, Jackets? • Georgia chases away Spurrier demons with dominating performance • Short takes: Lambert says, ‘I just had to go through a rough patch’ • Georgia can’t blow game, Tech can’t blow chance