The Atlanta Falcons closed the season out with a four-game winning streak, capped off with a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Let’s get into some of the finer points of the last game of the season for the Falcons.
I know this is an Atlanta-based sports site, but the first, and most important, note that needs to be discussed is Jameis Winston. Winston had a chance to make history, good and bad. First, the good being surpassing 5,000 passing yards. Next, the bad being throw 30 interceptions. Jameis accomplished both yesterday, eclipsing 5,000 yards and throwing two interceptions to secure the dubious honor of throwing 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in the same season. Winston is a free agent this offseason so it’s possible Winston will be elsewhere next season. As a Falcons fan, I hope Winston stays with the Buccaneers for the entertainment value of it all.
Speaking of Jameis Winston, the Tampa Bay offensive line did a great job protecting their quarterback. Vic Beasley needed two sacks to register 10 sacks for the season, a major accomplishment for Beasley. Instead, Grady Jarrett would record the only sack of the day against Winston. Despite Beasley missing the ten sack number, don’t be surprised to see Beasley resigned in the offseason with Dan Quinn returning.
While the Tampa Bay offensive line did a fantastic job of protecting their quarterback, the Atlanta offensive line struggled to keep Matt Ryan upright. The Buccaneers had 6 sacks and 14 QB hits on the day. Led by Shaq Barrett, who had three sacks on his own, the Tampa Bay defensive front kept Ryan running for his life most of the day.
Even with the pressure being on Matt Ryan all day, the Falcons offense still found ways to score. The Falcons only offensive touchdown of the day came when Ryan hooked up with Ty Sambrailo caught a pass and took it 35-yards to the endzone. It was a sight to see a man as big as Sambrailo catch a ball and streak down the field for the touchdown. That touchdown pass was likely the strangest touchdown pass Ryan has thrown his entire career.
Besides the one touchdown to Sambrailo, the Falcons offense had through all day getting back into the endzone for a touchdown. Younghoe Koo was called to action five times yesterday, hitting all five of his field-goal opportunities on the day. Since replacing Matt Bryant in the middle of the season, Koo has gone 23-26 in his field goal chances. Koo signed a one-year deal to stay with the Falcons. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Koo back for next season with a longer contract.
The Falcons close the season out on a four-game winning streak to finish with a record of 7-9. It is the second consecutive season the Falcons have finished with the 7-9 record. Let’s hope some of this momentum does back it to next season, unlike the momentum from one season ago didn’t help the team in the first 8 weeks of the season. For now, the Falcons can shift their focus to getting the salary cap down and the draft in April.