Falcons Fall in Finale
Tampa Bay Buccaneeers @ Atlanta Falcons
This was a throw-away game for the Falcons, who had already locked up home-field advantage and the NFC’s #1 seed and Atlanta played like it. Although Matt Ryan attempted 44 passes he had just 238 passing yards and 1 touchdown against one of the league’s worst pass defenses. Back-up RB Jacquizz Rodgers was the team’s leading receiver with 8 receptions and Matt Ryan dumped off 16 of his 28 receptions to RB’s or TE Tony Gonzalez. Ryan’s lone touchdown pass came with a little over 7 minutes left in the 4th quarter when he hit Harry Douglas from 7 yards out. It was Ryan’s 32nd touchdown pass of the season.
Surprisingly Matty Ice played the entire game against the Bucs, as well as many of Atlanta’s other starters but maybe head coach Mike Smith should have protected his team rather than attempt to win a meaningless game. Falcons pass rushing defensive end, John Abraham, was forced to leave the game late in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. This was just a few quarters after Atlanta CB Dunta Robinson was removed from the game with a head injury when he suffered a helmet-to-helmet hit with Bucs RB Doug Martin. The Falcons will get a week off and face the lowest seed remaining in the NFC after Wild Card weekend and are hoping to return to the field healthy and ready to prove they’re not going one and done.
As for the Buccaneers, they had a roller coaster of a season but they were able to snap their 5 game losing streak and beat their division rivals on the road, finishing the season 7-9. The future looks promising for the Bucs who have a young QB in Josh Freeman who became the franchises leader in touchdown passes with his toss to Mike Williams in the end-zone in the 2nd quarter. They also found a great workhorse RB in “muscle hamster” Doug Martin, who in his rookie season rushed for 1454 yards and 11 touchdowns on 319 attempts.
Martin added another 472 receiving yards on 49 receptions, 1 of those going for a score. The biggest stat is that despite the large workload Martin stayed healthy and had just 1 fumble lost all season long. Martin fell just 91 yards short of setting the franchise record for most rushing yards in a season but when you see that James Wilder had 88 more carries and 9 more fumbles one could argue that although he didn’t rush for the most yards he did have one of the most successful seasons for a Bucs running back and he’s a rookie!