The Falcons received a stellar performance from wide receiver Julio Jones and needed a fourth-quarter defensive stop to earn a 34-20 NFC South victory over Tampa Bay on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Jones has 12 catches for 253 yards and two touchdowns.
The Falcons improved to 7-4, 1-1 division, while the Bucs dropped to 4-7, 0-3.
Here are the grades for the game:
Run offense: Tevin Coleman had more room to work against the Bucs. He had 43 yards on his first seven carries, including a 20-yard run. He had 43 yards on 20 carries when he was stymied by Seattle last week. The Falcons were going in to ice the game in the fourth quarter, when Terron Ward was stripped of the ball by Kendell Beckwith. Brent Grimes returned the fumble for 37 yards. Coleman add a 14-yard touchdown run with 1:53 to play to help secure the victory. Coleman rushed 19 times for 97 yards and two touchdowns. Julio Jones picked up 15 rushing yards on a reverse. Grade: B-plus
Pass offense: Jones was unstoppable. Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu went in to play quarterback in the second quarter in the Falcons’ 12-Gauge package and tossed a 51-yard touchdown pass to Jones after faking the ball on a read-zone look. He bobbled the ball, gathered it back in and launched a nice spiral. Ryan and Jones connected on a 25-yard touchdown play in the second quarter to give the Falcons a 17-3 lead. Jones set the mark for most yards receiving in the first 90 games of his career in the second quarter. Jones has 8,534 career yards surpassing the previous mark of 8,502 yards held by Lance Alworth. Ryan completed 26 of 35 passes for 317 yards and one touchdown. The Falcons were 11 of 14 on third downs. Grade: A
Run defense: The Falcons were strong against the run as the Bucs used three running backs. Doug Martin started the game. Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber came on in relief. Barber had two rushing touchdowns. The Bucs were held to 94 yards on 24 carries. Grade: B
Pass defense: Falcons cornerbacks Brian Poole (lower back) and Desmond Trufant (concussion) were knocked out of the game in the second quarter. Both were later ruled out. Trufant was hit by Falcons safety Keanu Neal. With Poole and Trufant out, the Falcons’ went to a big nickel package with three safeties. C.J. Goodwin took over at left cornerback for Trufant. Free safety Ricardo Allen went to the slot for Poole and rookie Damontae Kazee took over at free safety for Allen. The Falcons released cornerback Jalen Collins this week after he served his 10-game NFL suspension. Grade: B
Special teams: Matt Bryant made his field goal attempts of 49 and 36 yards. Bosher had two punts. On his second, in the third quarter, he had a hangtime of 4.70 seconds, but the Falcons’ gunners failed to down the well-placed punt and it ended up being a touchback. Returner Andre Roberts had a season high 129 kickoff return yards for 25.8 yards per return average - fourth highest of the season. He had 155 total return yards, which was also a season high. Grade: B
Coaching: The Falcons were creative on offense with the touchdown pass from Sanu to Jones and the coaches had to get creative on defense as the injuries mounted. The Falcons built a 27-6 lead and then let the Bucs creep back into the game with two third-quarter touchdowns. Grade: A
Next up: The Falcons (7-4) will host the Minnesota Vikings (9-2) in a key NFC game at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
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