FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes reactions and takeaways from the Falcons' victory against the Buccaneers.
Atlanta earned a big win in front of its home crowd and it will now look to keep that momentum rolling into next Monday's game against the New York Giants (1-5). Before completely turning the page, however, let's look back at some takeaways from Sunday's win, courtesy of NFL.com's Herbie Teope.
"The Falcons' offense showed grit in the second half without wide receivers Calvin Ridley (ankle) and Mohamed Sanu (hip), and came through when it mattered the most in the fourth quarter," Teope writes. "Nursing a slim 24-22 lead early in the final period, the Falcons put together a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped off by quarterback Matt Ryan's scoring pass to running back Tevin Coleman. The Buccaneers had plenty of momentum, having scored a touchdown to pull within two points, but the Falcons' drive took 6:28 off the clock to push the lead to 31-22 before holding on to win a wildly entertaining matchup.
"Ryan played exceptionally well, completing 31 of 41 passes for 354 yards and three touchdowns for a 125.4 passer rating. With Ridley and Sanu down for the final two quarters, Ryan's often connected with Julio Jones, who totaled 10 catches for 143 yards on the game, marking the 42nd time on Jones' career he's had a 100-yard receiving game."
Teope also discussed the defense's performance, which allowed 512 yards of offense against the Buccaneers. With injuries to a few offensive players in the game, Teope wonders whether the offense can continue to perform at a high level in the face of the pressure the defense puts on the unit.
To read the rest of Teope's takeaways from the game, click here.
Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today:
ESPN: Week 6 takeaways
Teope wasn't the only one to provide takeaways from the game on Sunday. Vaughn McClure, ESPN's Falcons beat reporter, shared his thoughts on Atlanta's victory.
"The Falcons are feeling pretty confident despite a 2-4 record, as they snapped their three-game losing streak," McClure writes. "But they also understand that they aren't playing their best football, with the offense stalling at times and the depleted defense surrendering 512 yards to the Bucs. 'Everybody pats you on your back, 'Good job. Good job. Good job,' but we've got to go in there and fix things, too,' Julio Jones said."
To see the rest of the takeaways from around the NFL, click here.
CBS Sports: NFL Week 6 grades
To provide his take on how Sunday's game unfolded, CBS Sports' John Breech assigned grades for each team. The Falcons and Bucs played a close game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Breech's grades for the game reflect that.
Atlanta earned a B from Breech for its performance, while Tampa Bay was one tick lower with a B-.
"It's a good thing Matt Ryan has been on fire lately, because every game the Falcons play in seems to turn into a shootout, and Sunday's game against Tampa was no exception," Breech writes of the Falcons. "Ryan threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns, marking the third time in four weeks that Ryan has thrown for at least 350 yards and three touchdowns. Of course, the Falcons have needed every single one of those yards and that's because their defense has been horrible. Against the Bucs, the Falcons surrendered 512 yards of offense, marking the second time this season that Atlanta has given up more than 500 yards in a home game. If you're wondering how bad that is, the Falcons haven't given up 500 or more yards in multiple home games in the same season since 1966, which happened to be their expansion season."
AJC: Falcons defense finally rises up
There's no question the ending of Sunday's game was a wild one. There was pressure on Atlanta to make a stop right up until the very last second. But when it mattered most, the Falcons' defense made a play and secured the victory, which is exactly what Michael Cunningham wrote about for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"Finally, the game was over, with the Falcons ahead 34-29. Finally, the Falcons got the stop that they couldn't in close losses to the Saints and Bengals," Cunningham writes. "Finally, they ended their losing streak, at three games.
"After three straight weeks of surrender the Falcons had played enough defense to win, if just barely."
To read the rest of Cunningham's piece, click here.