Ten things we learned from the Falcons' 34-29 win over the Buccaneers

ATLANTA – The Falcons finally got back into the win column with their 34-29 win over the Buccaneers on Sunday. Not only did Atlanta (2-4) snap a three-game skid, it improved to 2-1 in the NFC South and 2-2 against NFC opponents.

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Here are 10 more takeaways from the win over the Buccaneers, who fell to 2-3 and have now lost three straight since their FitzMagical start to the season:

10. Third time is a charm. Julio Jones eclipsed the 100-yard mark in receiving yards for the third time this season. Even though Jones has yet to find the end zone in six regular-season games, he did catch 10 balls for 143 yards against the Bucs.

9. Injured receivers. Rookie receiver Calvin Ridley left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury and he did not return to the game. Later in the third quarter, Mohamed Sanu left the game with a hip injury. The Falcons have been hit hard by injuries this season and losing either one of these playmakers would for any extended time would be big.

8. Timely sacks. The Falcons didn’t finish with a ton of sacks in this one – just two – but both came on third downs. Brooks Reed chased down a scrambling Jameis Winston on a key third-down play to force a punt in the first quarter. The sack was Reed’s first of the 2018 season. Jack Crawford sacked Winston on a third-and-5 play on the Falcons’ 11-yard line. The Bucs ended up settling for three points.

7. Hot start for Matty Ice. Matt Ryan started the game with 12 straight completions, which marks his second-highest total in his career. He completed 13 straight to start a game in Detroit back on Dec. 26, 2012.

6. Ryan protecting the ball. In his last four games, Matt Ryan has completed 86 of 115 passes for 1,147 yards and 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Ryan has thrown a couple of picks in 2018 – one in each of the first two games of the season.

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5. Hello, Hooper. In the last two games, tight end Austin Hooper has added another dimension the Falcons offense, catching 18 passes for 148 yards and no touchdowns. Against the Bucs, Hooper made 9 catches for 71 yards and a score.

4. Red hot in the red zone. The Falcons converted all three of their red-zone opportunities against the Bucs on Sunday. For what it’s worth, Atlanta converted 8 of 16 third-down attempts (62 percent). Yes, the offense is humming right now.

3. Move over, Montana. Matt Ryan’s touchdown pass to Tevin Coleman late in the fourth quarter gives the Falcons quarterback 274, surpassing the great Joe Montana for 16th all time. The score also put the Falcons up 31-22 with a little more than six minutes left in the game.

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2. Turnovers the difference. The Falcons picked off Jameis Winston twice – each time deep in Falcons territory, preventing the Bucs from coming away with any points. Damontae Kazee, who picked off Winston late in the second quarter (above), became the first Falcons player since Kemal Ishmael in 2014 to have an interception in three straight games. Brian Poole caught a deflected pass in the end zone early in the third quarter. It was Poole’s first pick of 2018.

1. They won, and that’s huge. If the Falcons had dropped this one, a 1-5 hole would have been much tougher to climb out of. Now, with the Giants, Redskins, Browns and Cowboys up next – all very winnable – the Falcons have a realistic chance at entering their showdown against the Saints on Thanksgiving Day with a 6-4 record 5-2 conference mark. And if that happens, no one will even remember this three-game skid. Everything is still on the table for this team.

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