Falcons Win. Barely.
November 26, 2012 at 10:46am by Scott • 9 Comments »
The Bucs made it close, but ultimately couldn’t beat the 9-1 Falcons, leading some to conclude that this team is a bag of shit that deserves your scorn. But what this game really did was prove that the Bucs are exactly what we we thought they were coming into the game. They’re a decent team that can win against lesser teams and still hold their own against the better teams. The Bucs lost by one point to the Falcons, continuing that trend of keeping those tough games close. It sucks that they lost, but no one is bringing me down because of it.
All that said, it seems like everything was dialed down a notch yesterday. The intensity, the attention to detail, the pace all seemed just a tick less than they have been in recent weeks. Josh Freeman went 19 for 30 for 256 yards and a 90.4 passer rating, which is certainly a good day. But he was missing that signature strike that he usually has to put a game away. There was no kill shot. And he made a couple boneheaded throws that didn’t get picked, but could have made the difference if he had been on target or had seen his alternate wide open receiver.
The offensive line was okay, although the right side of the line broke down a couple times in pass protection and no one run-blocked very well. Penalties against the right side of the line erased Doug Martin‘s only breakaway run of the game and Martin was left with 50 rushing yards total with 2.4 YPC. He did score two rushing touchdowns, though. But for the most part, I’m blaming the line for Martin’s lack of production. You could see defenders peeling away from their blocks to fill gaps and stop Martin early. And seven tackles for loss by the Falcons is awful. Some of that is also blocking, and some has to be a bad play called for the defense the Falcons ran. Hang some of those on coaching. Not that Martin doesn’t carry some of that blame also, but I didn’t see that he could do much with what he was given.
Apparently LeGarrette Blount went on the field for at least one play, but I never saw him and he never touched the ball.
The wide receivers did their normal excellent job yesterday, with Tiquan Underwood really stepping up when Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams were covered. And how about that sweet pass from Williams to Jackson? I loved the way Williams caught the lateral and just cocked his arm and tossed it. No hesitation, no contemplating on whether he should run with it — just confidence. Of course, it helped that no one was within shouting distance of Jackson and it made the decision easy, but you see those kinds of plays go wrong so often because the passer freezes in his decision making for a second. Not Williams. And Dallas Clark continued to catch everything thrown his way (literally). Luke Stocker is starting to become a disappointment, which makes me incredibly sad to say. But it’s true. Couldn’t catch the only ball thrown to him yesterday and his blocking duties have pretty much been taken over by Nate Byham. Byham is the best blocking tight end the Bucs have had in years.
If I don’t throw this is now, I’ll forget. Fuck you if you blame Connor Barth for the loss because he missed a 56-yard field goal. He made all his others and to hang the blame on him for such a long miss is ridiculous. Sorry, but I’ve seen it said already. Not here, of course, since my readers are all understand football. It’s amazing what some people will just blurt out, though.
The defensive line and linebackers kept the running game in check, with the exception of a breakaway run by Jacquizz Rodgers and a Matt Ryan scramble. But the line got no pressure on Ryan, who was only sacked once and that came from a corner blitz by E.J. Biggers. I think the announcer even said once that Ryan could have gotten out a rocking chair since he had so much time in the pocket, which is a funny line but sad if you’re a Bucs fan. For my money, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim was the best lineman out there yesterday.
The big play by Biggers and Ronde Barber‘s interception were splash plays in the secondary, but everything else was pretty terrible. Leonard Johnson couldn’t stop Julio Jones from scoring an 80-yard touchdown even though he was right on top of him. Roddy White burned LeQuan Lewis a couple times. And who the fuck is Danny Gorrer? Biggers had the best day of all the corners. Go ahead and read that sentence again.
And everybody missed tackles. Some because of bad angles, some because they’re out of position, and some just because they get out-muscled. It’s going to happen. It just seemed like it happened more than usual yesterday.
And that’s the story of the game. Like I said at the beginning, the Bucs just didn’t seem to be at their best. But it wasn’t an embarrassing loss. No one ran up 150 yards rushing and Ryan didn’t throw for five touchdowns. Be disappointed in the loss, but look at the kind of loss it is and compare it to how they were losing last year. Worlds of difference. Remind others of that when they complain after a 1-point loss.