First Quarter: **During each team's first possession, the Falcons and the Bucs traded turnovers in the first quarter. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked and lost the fumble at Atlanta's 17-yard line. The Falcons responded with an interception of Josh Freeman by Thomas DeCoud in the endzone. The next two Falcons drives stalled and resulted in punts while Tampa Bay withstood a strong effort from Atlanta's defense to post one field goal. Down 3-0, the Falcons began piecing together a positive drive to end the quarter, highlighted by a 22-yard catch from Julio Jones.
Second Quarter:The Falcons kept the drive moving, using two passes to White to gain 52 yards. Ryan completed five passes but Atlanta couldn't punch it in for the touchdown, taking a 26-yard field goal from Josh Harris to tie the score at 3-3. The Bucs responded with a Freeman rushing touchdown that took over seven minutes off the playclock. On Atlanta's next possession, Ryan was sacked on his own nine-yard line and fumbled, resulting in a Bucs field goal to give them a 13-3 lead. Ryan forced Atlanta's third turnover of the half just before the break with an interception to Ronde Barber to stop a positive, momentum-building drive in search of points before halftime. Through the first half of play, White had six catches for 96 yards in the first half.
Third Quarter:The Bucs third-quarter opening drive was reminiscent of Atlanta's offense last year, grinding down the field, taking time off the clock. Atlanta's defense kept them out of the end zone once again but Tampa's field goal extended the lead to 16-3. The Bucs' drive took more than eight minutes off the clock. Atlanta responded with a positive drive of their own but couldn't come away with any points. A blitz on third down stopped Ryan in the backfield before he could contemplate where to go with the ball. Atlanta continued to pressure Freeman but couldn't get to him in time. In a play that summed up the day, the Falcons put great pressure on Freeman, but he managed to complete a third-down conversion on a Falcons pass deflection that bounced into the hands of tight end Kellen Winslow.
Fourth Quarter:The Falcons found some fourth quarter magic once again, but couldn't find a way to close it out in the end. Atlanta began the quarter with a 27-yard interception return by safety William Moore. The takeaway gave Atlanta momentum but they were unable to get points out of the play. After stopping the Bucs, the Falcons got the ball again and two passes later they made it a 16-10 ballgame. Ryan connected with Julio Jones on a 49-yard pass completion and Tony Gonzalez caught a ten-yard touchdown reception on the next play. The Bucs were stopped again and Atlanta began to chip away at Tampa's defense with passes all over the yard to move the offense up the field. At the Tampa 15 they could go no further and a Bryant field goal gave the game its final score of 16-13. With under two minutes remaining, the Falcons were called for offsides on fourth down and the game ended with the Bucs in victory formation.
Play of the Game:Unfortunately for the Falcons, all the plays they made to get themselves back into the game were nullified with the game's final fourth-down play. After forcing fourth down by stopping LeGarrette Blount on third-and-2, the Falcons were drawn offsides on fourth-and-1 to give the Bucs the first down and the victory.
Player of the Game:Although he didn't score a touchdown, Roddy White's day kept the Falcons in the game in the fourth quarter. His huge catches late kept drives going and he was also key on Atlanta's second-quarter field goal score. White finished the day with nine catches for 140 yards and a long reception of 30 yards.
Turning Point:The penalty at the end finished the game, but to find the moment where Atlanta officially got back into the game and swung some momentum back their way you have to look to the second drive of the fourth quarter. After forcing a Bucs three-and-out, Ryan struck quickly, connecting with Julio Jones on a 49-yard reception. Gonzalez' 10-yard touchdown catch came next to put Atlanta down six and put a win within distance.
Stat of the Game:The Falcons defense gave up 81 yards on the ground to Blount but otherwise played quite strong against the Bucs offense. The Falcons' inability to score on drives put the Atlanta defense back on the field on more than one occasion and the Bucs had an impressive 35 minute time of possession. The defense limited the Bucs to 36 percent converting on third downs and limited Tampa's four trips into the redzone to just one score.
Tweet of the Game:Gonzalez once again came up with a huge score when the team needed it the most. His fourth-quarter touchdown grab is the third of the season and it got the Falcons on the board quickly and back on a more positive track. He's a player that is often associated with records breaking and the future Hall of Famer's touchdown snag prompted one fan to generate one more feat for the tight end. @Spnglrjsn had this to say after the critical catch: "Tony Gonzalez just moved into 1st place all time on the career list for being the freakin' man. #atltb11"
Quote of the Day:Despite dropping to 1-2 on the season and having two losses that are polar opposites, the Falcons locker room doesn't seem to have any panic. They embody a level-headed approach set by head coach Mike Smith. After the game, Ryan looked at the loss as another opportunity to make himself and his team stronger: "It's early in the year. In this league it's all about how you respond. There's going to be adverse situations in September, October, November and December. It's all about how you respond to those situations. We've got to be mentally tough. We've got to get back into work this week, get focused, prepare and get a win next week."