Have you ever failed where you knew you should have succeeded? That was the situation with the Falcons-Buccaneers rivalry over the last season and a half. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have not been playing as well as us outside of these games. We will have a better record than them for the ninth consecutive season! Yet they beat us three times in a row! Last year, the consequences were especially harsh, for the reversal of two close divisional wins would have gotten us into the playoffs at 10-6.
Last night we went into Tampa Bay with two more wins than them but a loss to them. Would history repeat itself?
This time things went as they should have gone. While the Bucs got a couple of brief leads in the first half, our offense killed it yet again! Matt Ryan threw for 344 yards and 4 touchdowns! Julio Jones got too banged-up by the Packers to do much in that game, yet he had 111 yards receiving and a touchdown in Tampa despite a short rest. He looks fine to me. Mohamed Sanu had his second good game in a row. He’s not Roddy White in his prime, but he’s still the quality second-string wide receiver we’ve been needing. With Jacob Tamme out, Austin Hooper again proved that he’s a great tight end in the making. Maybe even our new Tony Gonzalez in time.
I can even praise the defense. Yes, we gave up 28 points but only because we went prevent when we were up 33-14 near the end of the third quarter and the game was all but over. Our pass rush is there and we forced some turnovers and a fourth down stop. This defense may not be good, but perhaps it is clutch.
The announcers seemed perplexed that the Bucs haven’t won a home game all season. Actually, southern teams seem to have weak home field advantages in general. You might have heard that the Braves are often actually better away from Atlanta, but the Falcons had equal home and road records over the last two seasons, and two of our three current season losses were in the Georgia Dome. The Cowboys, Panthers, Saints, and Dolphins all have questionable home field advantages. Same story with lots of southern teams in other leagues. The reason may be that because the South is such a controversial region, players in this region feed on the hatred of opposing crowds as much as the cheers of their own.
No matter what what happens on Sunday, we will remain comfortably on top of the division. But you gotta keep winning. We have a couple key injuries that a mini-bye will hopefully take care of. RISE UP!!!