TAMPA, Fla. -- I’m pretty sure I’ve just witnessed the best-played half of NFC South football so far this season.
The Falcons and Buccaneers are tied, 10-10, at halftime. Both offenses have put together some nice drives and both defenses have done some good things. Let’s run through a few quick observations.
I thought we were going to witness a perfect first half from quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman. Ryan completed his first 10 passes, Freeman completed his first four. The two were perfect as we moved past the six-minute mark of the second quarter. But the streak ended as Ryan was picked off by Ronde Barber with 5:47 left in the first half.
Barber’s interception gave the Bucs excellent field position and they weren’t able to punch it in for a touchdown, despite having two plays that looked like they would go all the way. Receiver Mike Williams took a lateral pass from Freeman and threw a pass to Vincent Jackson. It was completed, but the ball was underthrown and Jackson had to slow up. If Williams’ throw had been on target, Jackson probably would have scored. On a third down near the goal line, Doug Martin appeared to have an outside angle for the end zone. But Atlanta linebacker Mike Peterson made a nice ankle tackle to force the Bucs to settle for the field goal.
The Falcons gradually have been increasing running back Jacquizz Rodgers’ playing time. But they’re doing it even more today and it looks like the plan is to run Rodgers more than Michael Turner, who continues to struggle to get more than a yard or two most times he carries the ball.
I’ll be back with Rapid Reaction soon after the game ends.