Falcons special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica discusses the play of Jamal Carter and others on special teams. The Falcons host the Saints Thursday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter)

Film-review report card: Bucs 35, Falcons 22

The Falcons’ opening drive stalled, and they couldn’t turn Desmond Trufant’s interception into points. 

“We missed on a couple of different opportunities there,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “We put ourselves in a tough spot on third down and had a chance at a fourth down as well, but we jumped offsides.

“So that was tough to not be able to keep that drive moving and come away with points. I really think the first two drives of that game were missed opportunities for us, where we had a chance to score a touchdown the first drive and certainly had a chance to score points on the second, if not a touchdown.”

If the Falcons had gone up 14-0 after those drives, maybe it would have been a different game. 

“Being up 3-0 was basically the least we could walk away with in that situation, and that is not what you want to do,” Ryan said. “When you get your chances, short field and in the red zone, you have got to come away with touchdowns.”

Run offense: Running backs Brian Hill and Qadree Ollison didn’t have much room to run. They combined to rush 17 times for 34 yards for a paltry 2.0 yards per carry. Overall, the Falcons rushed for 19 times for 57 yards. It was the sixth time this season that they have rushed for 60 yards are less. Grade: F  

Falcons tight end Jaeden Graham was open after three Bucs went with Julio Jones. (GamePass.NFL.Com screenshot from Fox Sports)

Pass offense: Matt Ryan completed 23 of 46 passes for 271 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. He had a passer rating of 59.2, his lowest of the season. Ryan was under duress as he was sacked six times and hit 12 times before giving way to backup quarterback Matt Schaub, who also was hit once. Schaub tossed a garbage-/fantasy-time touchdown to Calvin Ridley to make the score look more respectable. Second-year wide receiver Russell Gage was the lone bright spot as he caught 8 of 10 passes for 76 yards. Julio Jones tried to play through an right-shoulder AC joint injury. Grade: F  

Run defense: The Buccaneers rushed 34 times for 133 yards for a solid average of 3.9 yards per carry. Ronald Jones led the way with 12 carries for 51 yards and a nice 4-yard touchdown run that put the Bucs up 25-10. Grade: C 

Pass defense: The Falcons, much like they did to Will Fuller earlier this season, made Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin look like the second coming of Jerry Rice. Godwin caught 7 of 8 targets for 184 yards and touchdown downs. Free safety Damontae Kazee should have stopped the long-gainer but overran the play. He’s got to be the angel of the defense in the back. “On one of them, we had said he went down the seam for 70-yard touchdown pass,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “Deion (Jones) is what we call the run-through player, so he would be matched up on him but a safety over the top. In that instance, you'd hope, ‘OK, that's a worst-case scenario of a 20-25-yard gain,’ and you don't like it but you can live with it. When it goes for the big explosive, that's the hardest part. We tip our hat to them, give them credit, but yeah, that's one you hope you can stop for sure.” Mike Evans had four catches for 50 yards. The Falcons were not able to mount a pass rush, with Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston picking apart the zone coverages. The Falcons had no sacks and one quarterback hit. Grade: F 

Falcons linebacker Deion Jones is in coverage on Chris Godwin. Free safety Damontae Kazee over ran the ball and he tried to break down. Coach Dan Quinn said it was a "teachable" moment for the safety. (Gamepass.NFLcom screenshoot from Fox Sports)

Special teams: Kicker Younghoe Koo made 3 of 3 field goals. Punter Ryan Allen averaged 41.2 yards net on six punts. He had a nice coffin-corner kick to put the ball at Tampa Bay’s 3 in the first quarter. Returner Kenjon Barner was held to 8 yards on three punt returns and the Bucs had seven touchbacks on kickoffs. Grade: B

Coaching: The Falcons, perhaps enjoying their two-game winning streak too much, didn’t come out ready to play. They had an opportunity to pounced on the Bucs, who had dropped five of their previous six games. When Winston gave them two extra possessions, the offense could only come up with one touchdown. In a relatively clean game, the Falcons have 7 penalties for 60 yards. The offensive braintrust needed a better blocking scheme against the Bucs. Once they noticed that the Bucs were winning their one-on-ones, they needed to leave a back in or have a tight end stay back to help with the protection. Grade: D. 

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About the Author

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