These short takes are presented as a companion to the Falcons-Buccaneers print column, which can be found here.
1. This offense is really something, and we don’t mean Tampa Bay’s. After a blah performance at Cincinnati, the Atlanta Falcons needed 177 seconds to score a touchdown. By halftime they would lead 35-0. After three quarters it was 56-0. Through those three quarters, the Falcons had outgained the visitors 457 yards to 151 and had mustered 24 first downs to the Bucs’ six. Julio Jones caught nine passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns. Devin Hester scored on a reverse and on a record-breaking punt return. (He has now scored 20 times on kick returns, exceeding the standard set by Deion Sanders, to whom Hester paid homage with a hand-behind-the-helmet strut into the end zone.) Oh, and Matt Ryan set a franchise record by completing 21 of 24 passes.
2. The last-in-the-NFL defense was, at least against this opponent, unyielding. After being gashed for 472 yards in each of the season’s first two weeks, the Falcons found an opponent they could not only contain but overwhelm. Halftime numbers: The Bucs had 63 yards, two first downs, three turnovers and zero points. Kemal Ishamael scored after intercepting a pass by Josh McCown, whose quarterback rating — he would leave in the second quarter with a thumb injury — was 22.2. In this dominant half, the Falcons even generated their first two sacks of the season, the first by Jonathan Massaquoi, the second by Corey Peters.
3. The Falcons are 2-1, having been favored in only one game. And that’s not bad. It’s hard to know what to make of game this lopsided. The Bucs are 0-3, having lost their first two games at home, and appear headed for an awful season. But it must be noted that both these teams were 4-12 last season, and that the Buccaneers beat the Falcons 41-31 in November 2013. It would appear that one team has gotten a lot better in a hurry. As bad as the visitors looked Thursday night, the home side looked that good. As if you didn’t know that from the final score.