Nothing’s ever easy in Falconsland, but when they needed a win, they got one.
The Atlanta Falcons got a win out of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Florida, defeating the Buccaneers 16-13, thanks to the dogged work of the die-hard Falcons’ defense and a late 51-yard field goal from Younghoe Koo, the reliable Falcons kicker once again called out to punch in those extra points when the going gets rough for the Dirty Birds.
But recurring mistakes from their quarterback, Desmond Ridder, made it hard for the Falcons to stay on track and almost derailed their victory train altogether.
Ridder started off well, scoring the first touchdown for the Falcons in the first quarter. The Bucs answered with their own touchdown to even up the game. The second half was an exchange of punts, field goal scores, and a Falcons fumble just before halftime that would kill a drive that was depressingly close to the endzone.
After the half, another exchange of punts and fumbles, capped with a Koo FG. In the fourth quarter, more flustration for the Falcons as a play that was originally called a touchdown was reviewed to be yet another fumble for Ridder. The ball went back to the Bucs. Later, after a Bucs FG that tied the game, The Falcons drove down the field with 45 seconds to go. A 39-yard pass from Ridder to Kyle Pitts helped set the Falcons for a game-winning FG from Koo. Koo and the Dirty Birds celebrated the win in mid-field, and Falcons fans could breathe easy.
The hard-fought win was more than just a W on the statistics. It helped put the Falcons on top of the NFC South, thanks to this being a division win over the Bucs. It was also a road win, proving the Falcons could win such games when and if offense and defense work together.
That’s our King (Koo)👑 pic.twitter.com/RN7luRGPRb
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) October 22, 2023
One thing the win didn’t do was clear up some of the issues around the quarterback, Ridder. He turned the ball over three times and all three were in striking distance of the red zone. He himself admitted after the game that there was no excuse not holding on to the football as if his life (or at least the game) depended on it when a drive is on the verge of a touchdown.
“I have to do a better job of taking care of the ball,” he told the press. He elaborated that he felt “antsy” on at least two of those fumbles.
His coach, Arthur Smith came to his defense.
“It’s his eleventh start, just got a good win, so let’s give him some credit,” said Smith, a pre-emptive strike against obvious questions sure to come at him about Ridder’s performance in this game despite the win. “I know this about Desmond Ridder: he’s tough, and he’s a winner.”
Ridder went 19 of 25 for 250 passing yards, while his Bucs counterpart Baker Mayfield went 27 for 42 attempts for 275 yards.
Cordarelle Patterson got 56 yards in his short time on the field. Tyler Allgeier went 59 yards.
There was some confusion around Bijan Robinson, whose absence in most of the game stirred up chatter on social media. (He was not listed on the game as out). In a conversation with Fox TV, Smith said Robinson was “not feeling that great.” He saw no action until the last 30 seconds of the game, turning in 3 yards participating in the final winning drive. Robinson himself later confirmed to Fox 5’s Kelly Price he woke up this morning with a “huge headache” and was unable to fully continue playing.
It wasn’t an easy win, but it was still a win the Falcons needed, and even though nagging questions about Ridder still remain, the Dirty Birds are happy to be on the winning side this Sunday.
“Give this team some credit,” said Smith, after the game. “We found a way to win.”
Atlanta Falcons vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: By The Numbers
Scoring Sequence: ATL: 7-3-3-3 TB: 7-3-0-3
Total yards: ATL 401 TB: 329
Pass yards: ATL: 245 TB: 256
Rush yards: AT: 156 TB: 73
Penalties/Yards: ATL: 960 TB: 9/66
Fumbles: ATL: 3 TB: 1
Time Of Possession: ATL: 29:59 TB: 30:01
Credit: Atlanta Falcons/X