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Week 2 Game Recap: Atlanta Falcons 9, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24

What you need to know

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons struggled right out of the gate as QB Matt Ryan missed his first eight pass attempts and threw two interceptions that Tampa Bay turned into scores. Ryan struggled to find time and open receivers down field throughout the game, and he finished with just 158 yards passing. He felt a great amount of pressure compared to his first start and did not get the help from his running game he did in the opener.

Michael Turner ran 14 times for just 42 yards on the ground following last week's team record breaking performance. The Buccaneers swarmed to Turner all game long and finished tackles, which made everything tougher on an offense that seems to be built around Turner and the rushing attack.

Roddy White led the way receiving with four receptions for 59 yards and Laurent Robinson chipped in with four receptions for 45 yards for Atlanta.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay demoted QB Jeff Garcia saying they thought his ankle wasn't healed (Garcia disagreed) and turned the reins over to backup Brian Griese. Griese responded by throwing for 160 yards and a touchdown to lead Tampa Bay to the win. His final numbers and his actual play on the field didn't seem much different than what was seen from Garcia last week though, so it will be interesting to see how Jon Gruden reacts to the play of his signal callers.

The Buccaneers wanted to get Earnest Graham more touches against the Falcons and they did just that. Graham ran for 116 yards on 15 carries and had the game clinching score on a 68 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He also had a touchdown run called back for penalty earlier in the game.

WR Joey Galloway still does not seem to be himself and looked to be slowed by injuries throughout the game, so the Buccaneers and Griese distributed the ball to a number of players in the passing game. While they didn't produce huge numbers, they came up with the only big pass play for either team when Griese connected with TE John Gilmore on a five yard score in the first quarter.


What you ought to know

QB Matt Ryan, Pass: 13 - 33 - 158 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 6 - 10 - 0

Matt Ryan ran into the first real defense of his rookie year and the results of his stat line show what you would expect from a rookie quarterback going into Tampa Bay for the first time in his career. Ryan threw for 158 yards on 13 of 33 passing, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. He also had six rushing attempts for ten yards. While Ryan remained poised throughout the game and was able to keep the Falcons close, he still had too many costly mistakes. Ryan started the game zero of eight with two interceptions, and the Buccaneers turned that into an early 10-0 lead. The Falcons had their chances, but the pressure from Tampa Bay and their inability to run the ball were too much for Ryan and Atlanta to overcome.

RB Michael Turner, Rush: 14 - 42 - 0, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets)

Michael Turner and the Falcons faced a much tougher defense this week and the Tampa Bay game plan was clearly to focus on Turner and make QB Matt Ryan have to try to beat them through the air. The Buccaneers held Turner to just 42 yards on 14 attempts, for a 3.0 ypc average. He still ran hard and hit the holes with the burst he showed last week, but the difference was Tampa Bay was meeting him in those holes and finishing tackles. Turner was targeted one time in the passing game, catching the pass for an eight yard gain.

RB Jerious Norwood, Rush: 6 - 18 - 0, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (4 targets)

Norwood spelled Michael Turner occasionally throughout the game and finished with six rushes for 18 yards on the ground and one reception for eight yards on four targets in the passing game. He had a long run of just six yards but had just seven total touches in the game.

WR Roddy White, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0, Rec: 4 - 59 - 0 (10 targets)

White was the most targeted Atlanta receiver as he finished with ten for the game. He totaled four receptions for 59 yards and looked to be QB Matt Ryan's favorite target by far. Atlanta even tried getting the ball in White's hand on a running play and while White was only able to gain two yards, it showed the Falcons were trying to get the ball in his hands as much as possible.

WR Laurent Robinson, Rec: 4 - 45 - 0 (5 targets)

Laurent Robinson was targeted five times in the game and finished with three receptions for 26 yards. On two of his catches, Robinson showed great concentration and athleticism, as he made both a juggling catch on a ball thrown behind him and a catch on a jump ball while being covered by Tampa Bay DB Ronde Barber.

WR Michael Jenkins (7 targets)

Jenkins failed to record a reception but was targeted seven times in the game, four of which came on third downs. One attempted target to Jenkins was intercepted by Tampa Bay.

TE Ben Hartsock (1 targets)

Hartsock was targeted just one time and did not record a reception in the game.

PK Jason Elam 3 - 3 FG, 0 - 0 XP, 9 points

Jason Elam connected on field goals from 32, 27 and 24 yards out and finished with nine points.

ATL Rush Defense

Atlanta's defense allowed 164 yards on the ground and two rushing scores, but most of that damage came late in the game on Graham's long touchdown run. Prior to the Graham score, the Falcons were able to keep the Tampa Bay rushing attack in check. Unfortunately for the Atlanta defense, their offense was not able to keep them off the field and the unit seemed to wear down later in the game.

DB Lawyer Milloy led the way with seven solo tackles and one assist and rookie Curtis Lofton chipped in with five solos and three assists of his own.

ATL Pass Defense

The Falcons secondary played well against Tampa Bay, as they gave up just 147 net passing yards and virtually shut down the Buccaneers passing game. They did allow a first quarter touchdown on a short field, but aside from that, Atlanta was able to keep Tampa Bay's aerial attack under control.

DL John Abraham recorded a sack and caused a Griese fumble for the Falcons.


QB Brian Griese, Pass: 18 - 31 - 160 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0

Brian Griese got the starting nod against the Falcons, and while he started off playing pretty well, in the end Griese's numbers looked similar to a typical game from the player he replaced in the lineup, Jeff Garcia. Griese was 18 of 31 for 160 yards and a first quarter touchdown pass from five yards out to TE John Gilmore. Behind Griese, the Tampa Bay offense seemed as out of sync as it was in the opener, and Head Coach Jon Gruden look disappointed after a number of missed opportunities Griese missed throughout the game. While he did not throw any interceptions, Griese did have a fumble on a play he was flushed out of the pocket and hit from behind that Atlanta was able to recover. The good news for Griese is that the Buccaneers came out with a victory, something Garcia was unable to produce in week one.

QB Jeff Garcia

Garcia did not play in the game, even though he stated this week that his injury from last week was fine. It seemed to be a healthy scratch and Jon Gruden must have seen something on film from last week that caused concern, because Garcia was relegated to third string for the game against Atlanta. There have been reports the Buccaneers called about possible trades involving Garcia, so owners will want to keep an eye on this situation in the coming weeks.

RB Earnest Graham, Rush: 15 - 116 - 1, Rec: 1 - 12 - 0 (2 targets)

For the second week in a row, Earnest Graham looked like the best offensive player on the Tampa Bay roster. Graham rushed for 116 yards on 15 carries and caught one pass for 12 yards in the passing game. While he split carries with Warrick Dunn, Graham is still the clear starter and the guy you want in the Buccaneers backfield. Graham put the game away for Tampa Bay on a 68 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter after Atlanta cut the deficit to eight points that put the Buccaneers up 24-9. Graham also had an eight yard touchdown run nullified for a holding penalty.

RB Warrick Dunn, Rush: 12 - 49 - 1, Rec: 3 - 21 - 0 (4 targets)

Dunn was utilized in both the running and passing attack for Tampa Bay as he finished with 12 rushes for 49 yards on the ground and three receptions for 21 yards on four targets through the air. Dunn helped the Buccaneers put away his former club with a 17 yard second quarter touchdown run. Coming off of what some thought was a down year for Dunn, he has showed glimpses of his shiftiness in the open field we saw early in his career, and for the second week in a row, Dunn was involved in a near 50/50 split for carries in the rushing attack.

WR Ike Hilliard, Rec: 4 - 41 - 0 (6 targets)

Ike Hilliard was targeted six times and finished with four receptions for 41 yards. Hilliard seems to be a security blanket no matter who the quarterback is for the Buccaneers. He was targeted four times on third downs, and three of his receptions on third down targets resulted in first downs.

WR Joey Galloway, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (5 targets)

Galloway received five targets and totaled just two receptions for 18 yards. For the second week in a row, he seemed to be out of sync with the Tampa Bay quarterback. Whether it's a result of him missing much of the preseason or the nagging injuries he's had so far this season, Galloway does not seem himself. Late in the game he was on the sideline with an undisclosed injury.

WR Antonio Bryant (3 targets)

Bryant was targeted three times but did not record a catch against the Falcons. His biggest contribution came as a blocker downfield on the Earnest Graham touchdown run.

TE John Gilmore, Rec: 2 - 41 - 1 (2 targets)

John Gilmore made the most out of his two targets as he caught both passes thrown his way, including a five yard touchdown on Tampa Bay's first score of the game.

TE Alex Smith, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (6 targets)

Smith was targeted six times and finished with two receptions for 20 yards.

PK Matt Bryant 1 - 1 FG, 3 - 3 XP, 6 points

Bryant connected from 33 yards out on his only field goal attempt for the game and added three extra points to finish with six points in the game.

TB Rush Defense

Tampa Bay knew what they had to do in order to beat the Falcons, and that was slow down RB Michael Turner. They were up to the task, as they held the Atlanta back to just 42 yards on 14 carries after his breakout performance last weekend. Their ability to completely shut down the Atlanta rushing attack allowed them to pin their ears back and go after rookie QB Matt Ryan.

LB Barrett Rudd led the way defensively with five solo tackles and three assists, but the Buccaneer front seven all contributed in slowing down the Falcons rushing attack.

TB Pass Defense

The Buccaneers defense did what you would have expected them to do against a rookie QB. They brought pressure and forced Matt Ryan to rush his throws and worry about where they were coming from all game long. Tampa Bay sacked Ryan four times and turned two early interceptions into ten points.

DE Gaines Adams had a strong game as he finished with three solo tackles, three assists and two sacks, and DB's Aqib Talib and Sabby Piscitelli each added interceptions for the Buccaneers.