Sometimes it's tough to explain a loss. The Falcons once again did a lot right Sunday but couldn't overcome some of their mistakes to get their second win of the season. After the game, much of the talk was about the continued improvement from the defense, the offense's slow start and young Julio Jones' breakout performance.
The Falcons allowed four sacks of Matt Ryan, two that resulted in turnovers to Tampa. Head coach Mike Smith said his team must protect Ryan better if they're going to be able to do what they want on offense: "I felt like we fought our tails off to get back into the game. We didn't play very well. We didn't do a whole lot of good things in the first three quarters. At the end of the day we just dug ourselves too big of a hole. We weren't able to execute the things that we needed to execute there at the end of the ball game to give us a chance. We've got to do a better job in all three phases of the game to win ball games. We can't turn the ball over like we did and have the turnovers there in the redzone. Those are crucial and we've got to continue to work on protecting the quarterback, especially there in the first half. He got hit way too many times. Two of those turnovers were a direct result of our quarterback getting hit." *
Just like last week, when the game was on the line, quarterback Matt Ryan turned to the no-huddle and got the Falcons offense clicking. It's a tool the team uses to take advantage of certain situations and punish a tired defense and it worked again on Sunday. The touchdowns, however, still weren't there in the quantities they expected and Ryan said regardless of what they're running, that has to be the result: "We needed a momentum shift. When we got into our no-huddle package we moved the ball pretty effectively. Whether we're huddling or in no huddle we've got to score points. We didn't do a good enough job of that today." *
Rookie wide receiver Julio Jones had his breakout game in the loss. Jones caught six passes for 115 yards with a long of 49. Some of his biggest catches came in key moments, like the 49-yarder on the first play of a two-play scoring drive to get the Falcons to within one touchdown of the win. Jones feels like things are starting to come together for him in his rookie season: "The game's starting to slow down for me now. Those guys help me out. The Bucs tried to put their best corner on me. I just played off him. I saw him getting tired so I just kept getting stronger and stronger as the game went on." *
Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon has shown progression through the season's three games, setting the pace for the team on defense with 11 tackles and two tackles for loss. When things got down to the wire, however, a mistake on defense led to Tampa getting the victory. Weatherspoon didn't make excuses, but he sees development by the defensive unit: "We had our chance and it didn't go the way we wanted it to. We'll watch the tape tomorrow and fix the mistakes. We'll get better. As a defensive unit, I think we played better today." *
Atlanta doesn't have the luxury of taking a week off to regroup after Sunday's loss. They'll need to remember how they were able to adjust during the week after Week 1's loss to the Bears. Safety William Moore explained after the game that winning on the road now becomes critical after two early-season road drops: "You've got to (get things right). It's the first quarter of football and we definitely have to get some wins on the road. Seattle is a great young team that is playing great right now. We've got to go down there, delete today and focus on playing them."