Atlanta got off to a hot 4-0 start to the season and did so as an offensive juggernaut. However, it has not been so easy for Matt Ryan and the offense since. After losing to the Saints and squeaking by the Titans, Atlanta came into their week 8 match up with the Bucs hoping to look more like their early season form.
Atlanta marched down the field on their opening drive, but were unable to punch the ball into the endzone, something that has become a common theme over the past few weeks. Matt Bryant converted on a 21-yard field goal to put the Falcons up 3-0.
On the next drive, the mistakes started to begin. Matt Ryan hit Julio Jones, who was stripped by Kwon Alexander and returned inside the Falcons 30-yard line. The Falcons defense stood strong and forced a 3 and out, as the Bucs had to settle for a field goal.
The Falcons put together another nice drive midway through the second quarter, but Atlanta found another way to shoot themselves in the foot. Inside the Bucs’ 10-yard line, Center Mike Person rolled a snap to Matt Ryan that was recovered by Bucs. Tampa Bay took advantage of the turnover and put together a 73 yard drive that resulted in a field goal. Matt Ryan was intercepted by Kwon Alexander on the next possession, and Winston was able to lead Tampa Bay to a touchdown right before the half that really put the Falcons in a hole going into the locker room.
The mistakes did not stop there. After stopping the Bucs on their opening posession of the half, Atlanta drove into the redzone again, only to fumble a handoff which was recovered by Tampa Bay. Winston led another impressive 76-yard touchdown drive together to put the Falcons down 20-3 with just over 6 minutes to play in the 3rd quarter.
However, Atlanta would not go down easy. Matty Ice rallied his troops and led an 80-yard touchdown drive that was capped off by a 7-yard TD catch by Jacob Tamme. Tamme finished the game with 103 yards receiving, by far his best performance of the season. Atlanta was able to cut the lead to 7 with just under 5 minutes to go on a 24-yard field goal by Matt Bryant.
Atlanta needed a stop for an opportunity to tie the game. Atlanta was able to stop Doug Martin on a 3rd and 1 that would have iced the game away going into the two minute warning. To everyone’s surprise, Lovie Smith opted to go for it on their instead of punting the ball away to Matt Ryan. This very questionable decision did not pay off, as the play action did not fool the defense and Winston was stopped about a half yard from the yard to gain.
The call gave Atlanta a golden opportunity to tie the ball game and send it into overtime and they did not disappoint. Matt Ryan hooked up with Julio Jones in the endzone with just 17 seconds remaining. The game headed into overtime knotted at 20.
Tampa Bay won the toss and elected receive. The Bucs were able to muster a field goal on their opening possession of overtime, so Atlanta had to answer. Ryan picked up a first down on their first offensive play to Julio Jones, but they could not get much more than that. Atlanta was stopped on downs the next series and fell to the Bucs in disappointing fashion, 23-20.