FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- If you're the type who wants the Falcons to lose their final game of the 2022 regular season under the premise of Atlanta getting a higher draft pick because of the loss? A word of advice for you: Do not - and I repeat - do not say that to Grady Jarrett.
We all remember the circumstances of the last time these two teams faced each other, right? It's probably still a sore spot.
It was Week 5 of the season, and things were very different for these two NFC South teams at the time. Though Tampa Bay has the playoff berth for the division right now, and the Falcons are out of playoff contention at this point, both teams were in need of divisional wins at the beginning of October.
With about three minutes to go in that first meeting, the Falcons were knocking on the door of the Bucs six-point lead when Jarrett sacked Tom Brady for a loss of 10 yards on third down.
The Falcons sideline was exuberant. Tampa Bay would be forced to punt the ball, and Atlanta would get one more shot to go win the game.
That's not what happened, though. After the sack, a flag was thrown and Jarrett was penalized for roughing the passer. Instead of a 10-yard loss and Tampa Bay being forced to punt, Brady and the Bucs were given new life, 15 yards and a first down. Two plays later, Brady found Mike Evans for a nine-yard pick up that ultimately sealed the 21-15 win for Tampa Bay.
After the game, social media was irate. Fans, journalists and talking heads across the league noted their displeasure with the call. Looking back on the season as it enters into its final weekend, it was a call that could be deemed one of the most controversial of 2022.
So, if Jarrett comes to Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday ready to run through a brick wall to get a win vs. Brady and the Bucs, don't be surprised.
What does he have to lose? Nothing.
What does he have to gain? Revenge.
Personally, I fully believe Jarrett is going to be a man on a mission on Sunday... A man playing with his hair on fire... A heat missile with one target in mind. That target, of course, being Brady.
When asked about this on Thursday, Jarrett said it's "definitely inevitable" that you think back to that moment in Week 5 even a few months later. Heck, somebody brings it up every week, he said with a small chuckle. He doesn't dwell on the call. He's moved on. But c'mon, human nature is still at play here, too, and Jarrett is a competitor through and through. Don't you think he wants to demolish and destruct the line of scrimmage on Sunday? Even with nothing truly on the line? Of course he does.
Let's be honest for a second, too: Jarrett has not been given the credit he deserves in the public arena in 2022. If you're questioning his prowess and impact, you're actually not paying attention to the game at all. He's one of the best in the league at his position, period. Regardless of what PFF may or may not say. It's evident in how opposing offensive coordinators shift protection to account for him. You see it constantly and consistently.
More than the statistics, that's what Jarrett cares about.
"At the end of the day, my job is to the best that I can do. The best I can do is being one of the top players of my position in the league, consistently on a weekly basis being somebody that always has to be accounted for, make an impact in whatever way that may be," Jarrett said. "It may be a big statistical game, or it might not be a big statistical game but I might have had an impact across the game, however it looks that week. I want to make sure my number is being accounted for and respected."
The Falcons may be out of playoff contention. They may be prepping for the final game of 2022. But that final statement by Jarrett stands every time he takes the field.
The difference now? Perhaps there's a sprinkling of revenge baked into Jarrett when he lines up with Brady in his sights on Sunday.
The guys put in the work in Flowery Branch to prepare for this week's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.