In the last game of the season, The Falcons visit their division rival in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both teams come into the game only having to play for their dignity. The Falcons look to end their season, which was full of streaks, with a 3 game winning streak. The Buccs hope to win the last game of a frustrating season. The Falcons fight back and win at Tampa Bay, 34-32

Offense

The offense did not start the game well. They could not get pass the 50 yard line for a majority of the the first half. The first five possessions of the game for the Falcons ended with punts. Their first score of the game was in the last seconds of the half. 

They received the ball to begin the second half and scored another touchdown. Every possession of the second half ended with points except for the interception thrown by Matt Ryan. Ryan gave that interception up late in the game which led to a Buccs touchdown that gave them an one point lead. Even with that, he finished this season with numbers just shy of his MVP season in 2016. 

The comeback from 17-0 in the end of the second quarter came after a 19-yard touchdown to Julio Jones to cut the lead to 10 points. He had a huge game, in a game that means so little, it says a lot about the kind of team player he is. Jones ended the game with 9 receptions for 138 yards and 1 touchdown. He finished the season with 1,677 yards which is the highest in the NFL this year. This was also his second highest single year total of his career. 

The offense showed some trickery in the third quarter. The Falcons did their own rendition of the newly famous “Philly Special” play from Super Bowl 52. Ryan handed the ball to Calvin Ridley who then pitched it back to Mohamed Sanu. Sanu threw a 5-yard pass to Ryan for the touchdown. 

Sanu is now 7 for 8 in pass completions as a quarterback. Ryan became the first quarterback since 2016 to have a passing, rushing, and receiving touchdown in one season

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Calvin Ridley was able to catch a touchdown pass in his last game of his rookie season. Ridley ended the year with 10 touchdowns which is the 6th most by a rookie since 1970. 

Matt Bryant got the winning field goal after Ryan and the offense put together a winning drive to run out the clock. Bryant kicks a 37-yard field goal as time expires. 

Defense

The defense was not very effective during this game. They were fortunate to have the offense turn around and score with the Tampa Bay offense. Though offense was a huge part of the game, the defense was able to get a few key defensive stops that helped win the game.

Takk McKinley sacked Winston on third down in the second quarter to force a field goal. This was the defense’s 19th sack on third down this year. McKinley ended the year with 22 tackles 7 sacks for a loss of 50 yards. 

Damontae Kazee intercepted a pass from Jameis Winston in the end of the third quarter. This gave Kazee his 7th interception of the season which tied for the most in the NFL this year and is the most interceptions by a Falcon in one season since 1998. Kazee has been a star in this injury-ridden defense all season. 

The defense was able to stop two of the 2-point attempts the Buccaneers went for in the end of the game. Robert Alford picked up a big tackle to stop the first 2-point attempt. 

Final Take

The Falcons end the 2018 season 7-9 and second in the NFC South. The end of the season proved that this Falcons’ team was not as bad as it seemed in the middle of the season. In a season where the NFL has 68 games that were decided by 3 or less points, the Falcons were losers of three of those games. Looking back at the season, the Falcons were closer to the playoffs then it seemed. Falcons fans can only hope that the winning streak will bleed over to next year. 

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